The Central Figure Turman’s Mistake Protocol and Persuasion Inside View of the Senate AUSTIN The central figure in the final moments of the six-month legislative tax fight was House Speaker Jim Turman. In the frenzied 24 hours before the close. the speaker made decisions which he, his friends, and his enemies, all knew would have a pivotal effect on his political future. His friendsmost of whom must now be identified as erstwhile friendsfeel he committed political suicide. His enemies, their scorn of recent months now temporarily repressed in most cases, nevertheless make it clear that Handsome Jim is not really their man. Butat least during the first post-midnight calm that settled over final sessionTurman himself apparently felt he had done himself no harm in his unannounced but widely discussed race for lieutenant governor. BEHIND these varying reactions to a political event lies much of the snarled underbrush of Texas politics, the beguiled tolerance with which many politicians view this jungle, and the complex personality of Mr. Turman. There are those who are now convinced thatin a phrase Handsome Jim is a has-been; that the lobby knows it; and that House conservatives dispassionately welcome it. It is certain that House liberals will, in many individual instances, make special even extraordinaryefforts to insure it. Even among the small, pivotal band of moderates who followed the speaker’s weaving last-minute flip-flop, there are private admissions of misgivings though their public utterances are given over to praise of Turman and optimistic assessments of his political future. With such divergent numbers arrayed against Turman, many have hastened to conclude that the speaker is an excessively naive and provincial politician who at the moment of truth gaveled down his friends with ruthless determination. Says a liberal: “Only a turncoat could have done us in so completely and passed such a bad, regressive tax bill.” A conservative, “defending” Turman on the House floor against irate liberals, does so thusly: “The speaker has only done to you’all what he did to us last session.” A moderate, with some sympathy, hoists the gallows’ rope with these words: “Jimmy’s political course has always been shaped mostly in reaction to things, or people mostly people he is against. There at the finish, he had so many things to accomplish, and so many people opposed to one or more of them, that poor Jimmy ended up hating everybody.” From a detached lobbyist: “Jimmy is impulsive and, in the final analysis, his ambition seemed AUSTIN Senator John Tower favors the military occupation of Cuba by the United States. He has written a letter explaining why to the Rev. Dana S. Green in Santiago, Chile, and has given the Observer permission to quote from it. \(Rev. Green is an Observer subscriber “The whole basis for my suggesting that the time may he imminent when we will have to militarily occupy Cuba is not necessarily that Cuba poses a great military threat to the United States, but that it poses a threat to the peoples of other Latin American nations,” Tower wrote Rev. Green. to drive his judgment into retreat. To run successfully for statewide office, you have to have campaign contributions and mass conservative support or else campaign contributions, luck, and mass liberal support. Whatever else Jimmy may have accomplished in his last-minute gaveling, he hasn’t got mass support from either side for a statewide office. You can’t get elected just by teachers, even if the teacher lobby could deliver the vote, which they can’t.” And from an old politician comes a curiously disappointed appraisal, as if Turman had let the entire “trade” of politicians down: “Jimmy could have made his peace with the powers, passed his bill, and still been in a fair position to mend fences with the liberals –or a lot of them anyway. But when he gaveled them down that way, and all that personal bitterness crept in on both sideswell, there are some fences that just don’t mend. You’d think he’d know he’s going to have trouble carrying Grayson County after shovin’ that liberal \(Charles sure doesn’t have an excess of conservative friends in Grayson County.” \(Final word, accompanied by much shaking of the for office.” To these’ judgments might appropriately be added the thought that 20th Century American politicians, operating in a pluralistic society awash in counterveiling political currents, must learn how, in the words of one old hand, to “lecture the pressure groups.” This “craft” must be learned, that is to say, if one is to avoid the two ultimate solutions of selling out or meeting defeat. To the casual observer, all this doubtless appears disagreeable, overly technical, and faintly corrupt. One can only nod assent. Nevertheless, if one is not to surrender completely to his illusions, these conditions must be recognized for what they are realities. They explain why Wayne Morse can remain faithful to his own point of viewand survive while Chester Bowles can’t. In Jimmy Turman’s case, there has always been doubt in official Austin about just where he stood ideologically. But until now, doubt about his knowledge of The Craft was not widespread. IT IS curiously symptomatic of the climate of the times that Jimmy is being written off, not because what he did was too moral or not moral enoughbut because it was unprofessional. Some say he had the makings of a pro but his impatient hunger got the best of him. Others say the first requirement of a pro is to control his hunger. It seems a curiously irrelevant argument. But not, of course, to Jimmy Turman. L.G. “I am anxious that their territorial integrity should be preserved and that they should not fall prey to communist .imperialism,” he continued. “Under no other circumstances would I advocate intervention in the affairs of any country. “Such action, if taken against Castro, would be against a man who has lied to and abused his people, who has turned against those who supported him and murdered them in cold blood because they dared speak out in defense of true democracy and in THE, TEXAS OBSERVER Page 6 August 12, 1961 The Texas Senate, as we all know, has once again succeeded in getting Its way on taxes. What is it really like in the Senate? Freshman senator ‘Babe’ Schwartz, a fighting liberal from Galveston, tells associate editor Bob Sherrill something of the circumspections, of the modes of persuasion and the methods of protocol which exist in that curious chamber. When I was in the House, I engaged in the happy pastime of abusing the Senate something everybody engages in whoever had a bill die in the Senate. When I was elected to the Senate, I was apprehensive. Friends in the Senate told me it would be different across the hall and that I might Ibe advised to conduct myself differently. But they also urged me to withhold judgment. Is the Senate a plot against the people or is it a functioning body as it ought to be? I think I presumed it would be harder for me, a new member, to pass bills. But I found out quicker than anybody that the potential of a new member is greater in the Senate than in the House. The lieutenant governor, within the limits of his abilities, will let you run with anything you think you’re man enough to pass. I’m talking about ordinary legislation. Tax bills or million-dollar teacher pay billsthat’s a separate system. On ordinary legislation, it is a better place to work than in the House. In the House, each member has one rules suspension, except for the local and uncontested calendar; he has only one suspension as a matter of right. You have to go off and hustle rules suspensions from other members, or the speaker can give extra ones to you subject to the criticism of favoritism. If you’re on the speaker’s “team” you get along okay in this regard. Over here, so far as ordinary legislation goes, I don’t see any signs of there being a team. All you have to do is get your bill out of committee and convince the lieutenant governor you have a chance with your bill, that you aren’t just going to get up and harangue all day, and he’ll give you a chance with it. The last thing I did in the House was break a logjam to get $1 million for the Galveston medical school. I worked the floor all day; I was promising to vote for pine seedlings or any amendment to get a vote. Then Col. Winfree and I demogogued and harangued for an hour, telling them about burned children and crippled children, and emotionalizing. We got it through, and then the committee just seemed to fold up, and before we were through we had put on $15 million. That’s the way it used to be. Maybe it has changed. But over here in the Senate, nobody looks at you like it’s none of your business if you sit in on the tax or appropriations committee work. You’re in the Senate, so you belong there if you want to be there. Little Missing Of course the chances of anybody messing with the appropriations bill over here are thin, for one thing because the bill has been reviewed by a majority of the Senate before it ever gets out of committee, and also because a single senator represents a hell of a lot of the state and you wouldn’t do violence to him in the appropriations bill unless you had awfully good cause. Over here, we probably have a more wide open area of debate, but you can’t slam an amendment on a bill with oratory. There’s only one wayget 16 votes. Over here it’s cold turkey. In the House I used to delight in standing up there and selling my bill, arguing and emotionalizing. You don’t “sell” in a speech to the Senate, except maybe an amendment on the spur of the moment when you just get up and tell them your ideas of what’s right and wrong. As for cornering votes, new senators work the floor more. We can’t presume anybody will vote with us, so we go out and ask. The older members seem to know pretty well who will go with them without asking. In the House, debate was a lark. Hit them in the head for five minutes and win votes. Over here, there’s no problem of getting attentionthey’ll listen to youbut you may not win any votes as a result. Another thing, nobody will presume on other members’ time in the Senate. In the House, I never felt any restraint from talking as long as I pleased. Of course, you lose something. I miss the fun of mixing it up. That’s the only thing I miss about not being in the House. I like to get my kicks. I’m basically playful. I want to chide people who are insincere and slam people I feel are all wrong. I like to get in every battle. In the Senate you don’t have all that fun. Wardlow he pointed his finger at me and said, “You enjoy this, don’t you!” and he was right. It was the only good fight of the special session in the Senate. Over there in the House you drew blood whenever you could. Over here, there’s no blood-letting in public except when necessity demands. I hope I’ll outgrow the fun aspect. I want to be a little less inclined to fight. If I’ve done anything this session, I’ve stayed out of some battles I would have liked to get in. I’ve restrained myself. If you fight every battle in the Senate, you lose them allyou lose your audience. It’s a hell of a lot better just walking around the floor and saying this is a bad bill. The committee system is much better in the Senate, I guess because the Senate is so small and its committees are so large. Bills fly out of the House on wings of gold that die in Senate committee. Bills get a more complete hearing in Senate committee than they do on the House floor. Several bills I would have felt compelled to take the floor against fortunately died in Senate committee. Things like the atheist bill, the Senate wouldn’t waste floor time on it. It’s kind of like a medical profession. You don’t refer to other members by name on the floor. It’s just one of those things you don’t do. And there are other things you have to be judicious about. I had several senators come up to me and ask me what I meant by telling the AFL-CIO convention the Senate was going to change. I had said there would be four or five replacements. They wanted to know who I thought was going to lose. At the convention I had couched my words very carefully. I’ve been in politics long enough to know you can’t say something in Galveston that won’t be repeated in Austin. And I told those senators who were complaining to look up the Observer article and they would see that I had said nothing about winning or losing. I had said that several members would retire, quit, or run for another office. I have a right to point out these up-coming vacancies and warn liberals they had better do something about it. If Gonzalez leaves, they had better get busy if they want another Gonzalez-like senator for that seat. Weinert is retiring; all right, if the liberals want a Herring-like senator to fill that vacancy, they’d better get busy. Hudson is leaving. His replacement will be liberal or conservative. The division in the Senate is close enough that those seats are absolutely critical. Look at the vote on the Aikin tax amendment \(the $10 deductible offered in the -I consider it the key vote—16 to 14. It just shows how close the Senate came to passing something besides a sales tax. The liberals were only two votes short. I understand how these senators feel who came to me. I feel like the other senators. I don’t want to see any of my colleagues lose. We all have our respect for each other, for what we stand for. Everybody up here recognizes that George Parkhouse represents the majority viewpoint of Dallas. I believe honestly that most senators really represent the majority viewpoint of their districts, as they see it. I like this Senate. But let me go back and footnote something. The great mistake of the tax bill fight was in not filibustering right then when amendment to kill the telephone companies’ rebate. ‘Buddies’ Work I should have done it. But I had been beaten three or four times in a row, and I had already been on the floor more than anybody else. That’s probably something about the Senate that may or may not be good. Anybody’s fight is everybody’s fight in the House, but this was Bill’s fight, so I didn’t filibuster. I should have.
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