THE PEOPLE’S INDISPENSABLE GULLIBILITY HOUSTON Christians have burnt each other, quite persuaded That all the Apostles , would have done as they did. Byron, Don Juan FRIEND OF HUMANITY: I give thee sixpence ! I will see thee damned f irst, Wretch ! whom no sense of wrongs can rouse to vengeance ! Sordid, unfeeling, reprobate, degraded, Spiritless outcast ! \(Kicks the Knife-grinder, overturns his wheel, and exit in a transport of republican enthusiasm and universal Canning, the Friend of Humanity and the Knifegrinder. Oh, beautiful, beautiful Texas, Where beautiful bluebonnets grow ; We’re proud of our forefathers Who fought at the Alamo ! W. Lee O’Daniel, Sang. So far as is yet known, none of W. Lee O’Daniel’s forefathers ever got within six hundred miles of the Alamo. But that circumstance did not keep O’Daniel from writing his silly song. Nor did it keep an equally silly electorate from choosing him as governor of Texas. Let us regard O’Daniel. Let us also study the people who elected him. Let us then consider why the Liberals find it so hard to cope with them. The glib, loquacious, and deluded O’Daniel may be taken as the perfected new-style Texan. This flour salesman from Kansasthis boy who never grew too old to comb his mother’s hairsaw himself as the inheritor and avatar of all those salty and reckless frontiersmen who fought of f Santa Anna, subdued the Comanches, and drove the trail herds up to Abilene: Of Jim Bowie, Jack Hays, Ben McCulloch, Charlie Siringo, John Wesley Hardin, Sam Bass, and Sebe Barnes. His partners in the delusion are everywhere nowadays. They have flocked here from Kansas \(equally famed as the home soil of John Brown fornia \(which gave us Rock Hudson Connecticut \(renowned since Colonial times for its output of wooden nutnumber the autochthones. Big Texas department stores chiefly owned by remote Semites in New Yorkhave often flown the Six Flags of Texas, beginning from left with the arms of Castille and Aragon, two stately towers quartered against two lions. But what we really need is a seventh emblem. I hereby propose two gold bricks, quartered against two seats of walnut shells and the accompanying peas. What nowadays passes for a Texan is only a sort of parody of the modern American. Once every year he gets out of town and goes on a deer hunt, the deer having long and -systematically been baited with shelled corn to stand still within range of a telescope sighted .270. And on such an expedition the streamlined new-style Texan wears aluminum leggings to keep the snakes from biting him. As much was made in Texas as in the other states of the late disclosures that the TV quiz shows were rigged : That Charles Van Doren and little Elaine Whatshername were coached on the answers before the show began. This coaching was interpreted as a fraud on the citizens. But the citizens long since had defrauded themselves. Damned fools by the dozens of millions sat glued to their seats, actually believing that it takes some kind of scholarship to remember the name of Kublai Khan’s grandfather or the name of the river where Dubois found Pithecanthropus. Little Elaine rolled her lustrous eyes toward heaven as if beseeching God himself to tell her what any chump can learn by looking in an encyclopaedia ; and millions of viewers sweated in sympathy. Let us leave it to Walter Webb and Arnold Toynbee to decide whether the strong and quarrelsome Russians or the already half-starved hordes in Africa and Asianow in a breeding About the Author Our guest columnist this week, the writer H. Mewhinney, is a member of the Houston Post staff, on which he has been columnist, writer of profiles, reporter, and desk man. He wrote for the Texas Spectator. His Manual for Neanderthals, a book about flint-making, was published by the University of Texas Press. storm that would daunt the lemmings constitute the greater danger to the world. Let us merely consider our gullible brother, the same fellow who thought the TV shows were on the level, the same fellow who voted for W. Lee O’Daniel. His gullibility is indispensable to American civilization. If he had sense enough not to buy the trash that is now fobbed off on him, the whole economy would collapse. For it was the great discovery of Rooseveltseldom stated explicitly that the American system now makes goods in such fantastic amounts that the only way to keep it going is to give people jobs, pay them fairly well, and persuade them to spend their money. For the first time since the world began, man as a customer has become more important than man as a producer. Roosevelt did not pursue any abstract justice. He merely got new laws to match the new techniques. It is not on record that Roosevelt ever read the works of V. Gordon Childe, Clark Wissler, or Ruth Benedict. But he had the same ideas as a few of the cultural anthropologists : and so is mankind’s concept of jusple depend, more than on anything else, simply on how the people make changes, so will the ethics. Shall we ask that all Liberals go read Childe and Wissler? H. MEHINNEY MEANWHILE, BACK AT THE RANCH was filling “important” and “longstanding” engagements in Hutchinson, Kan., and Marshalltown, Iowa. It is sadly characteristic of Johnson that for all his national interests and ambitions, he remains a provincial figure. Johnson did not appear at the dinner for Mrs. Roosevelt along with the other leading senators because his egotism would not permit him to be seen as just one of several and on the same competitive level. In Washington he is ri.27 44′ , \( William V. Shannon and Observer contributor Robert G. Spivack are New York Post staff members who are assigned to Washington. Shannon has considered Senator Johnson in a column entitled, “Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch,” which we print now. WASHINGTON While all the other Democratic Presidential candidates were in New omnipotence personified ; he directs the destinies of the Senate from a huge private office furnished in Hollywood baroque. He should exchange such dreams of glory for six minutes of time allotted by Harry Truman? Johnson shunned the dinner because public speaking is not his forte. He is an uninspired and mechanical speaker. The contrast with Adlai Stevenson and with his senatorial colleagues, all of whom speak better thanhe does, would have been painfully evident. The same ‘need to avoid any conspicuous failure dictates Johnson’s circuitous approach to the presidency. He cannot announce his candidacy because once he did the press would begin asking him why he did not enter any state primaries. He could not give the truthful answer, which is that he would be defeated in any Northern or Western primary he entered. He avoids having to answer by denying his candidacy and thereby preventing the question from arising. The best he can hope for is to be considered “available” at the convention. Where Johnson is concerned, this issue of discrimination is fraudulent. Northern and Western liberals oppose Johnson’s candidacy not because he is a Southerner but because he is not liberal enough. The proof is that many Northerners admire Sen. Yarborough IT IS TRUE that Southerners are a minority, just as Catholics and Jews are minorities. But there is only one way in a democracy for a minority politician to overcome that innate handicap. He must go out and show himself to other groups, talk about their problems, and demonstrate that he has transcended the limitations that minority status often imposes. If Johnson wants to overcome the handicaps of being a Southerner, he has to go out and try to “convert the heathen” in the North and West. If he does not want to do the necessary political missionary work of persuad ing the majority it can safely entrust its interests to a man from a minority, he should quit the race and stop com plaining about discrimination. MAULW3 THERE ARE TIMES when.it is hard to take Johnson seri ously. On Nov. 29, he spoke in Philadelphia and criticized the Eisenhower Administration for “cutting the people’s dreams out of the budget.” That same day, his office in Washington released the transcript of a radio interview broadcast on the Texas state network. In this interview, Johnson said : “Americans generally have the feeling that huge government budgets and our present budget is the largest in our peacetime historyhave a direct bearing upon these rising living costs.” Q. “Is Congress going to do anything about these unbalanced budgets ?” A. “Congress has already clone something. We have cut a total of $12,000,000,000 out of the requests that President Eisenhower has made for spending money since he started to submit budgets.” Has not Johnson heard about the miracle of modern communication ? It is no longer possible to take one side of an issue in Philadelphia and the other side in Texas and hope to escape undetected. Johnson is still playing Pony Express politics. Nor is this the first time. Several weeks earlier, Johnson transcribed an interview for Massachusetts stations When the transcript was released in Texas, Johnson’s pro-civil rights remarks had been deleted. A L SMITH used to boast that in his governorship campaigns, he “never left the main line of the New York .Central.” In other words, he just ignored the farmers. After he was defeated for the Presidency, Smith noted his poor showing in the farm states but explained it away with the uncomprehending remark that he had never done well with farmers. It is the fate of provincial men to fail of the highest honor because they do not communicate effectively in our big, complex, and diverse society. Lyndon Johnson has not profited from Al Smith’s experience. He has yet to learn that Texas is not America. WILLIAM V. SHANNON THE TEXAS OBSERVER Page 5 Jan. 8, 1960 St. Louis Post-Dispatch `Careful, Men, He’s Got Ifs Outnumbered’
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