A WASHINGTON VIEW High Stakes in Texas Political Season For a national perspective, we are pleased to excerpt this superb analysis of the present Texas political scene, written by Washington correspondent Robert Novak for the Wall Street Journal.Ed. WASHINGTON The ever-feuding Democrats of Texas are at it again. But on the eve of another outbreak of fratricidal warfare, the stakes are higher than the mere supremacy of one faction or another. This time their quarreling may determine whether a two-party system will emerge in Texas and the South any time soon. Alarmed by the emigration of conservatives from their hereditary home in the Democratic Party to the state’s swelling Republican ranks, old line Texas Democrats headed by Vice President Johnson are counterattacking. Their goal: To re-establish the state’s Democratic’ Party as a congenial fraternity that has no set ideology and offers a home for both the conservative oil man and the liberal dirt farmer. If their aim is realized, the Texas GOP would revert to its former status of a narrow-based band of stalwarts who dispense Federal patronage when a Republican is in the White House. N THE OTHER SIDE of the barricades in the intraparty Democratic struggle are anti-Johnson liberals, backed by much of organized labor in the state. Their goal: To accelerate the recent polarization of Texas politics toward a conservative Republican Party and a liberal Democratic Party. Given the present conservative climate in Texas, the liberals admit, such a two-party system could result in a dominant Republican Party. But the liberal Democrats contend that growing unionization plus greater efforts to turn out the Negro and Mexican-American votes could swing state power into the hands of a left-of-center Democratic Party. These conflicting designs will collide next year in the state gubernatorial election, focal point of all factional maneuvering for the past several months. Thus, the decision by John Connally to resign as Navy Secretary and run for governor and the announcement by Senator Ralph Yarborough that he is considering challenging Mr. Connally for the nomination signify more than manifestations of personal ambition. Mr. Connally, a longtime Johnson intimate who has charm and ability and is hard to peg either as a liberal or a conservative, is regarded by the Vice President’s allies as the ideal man to re-unite Texas Democrats and thwart the growth of the GOP. Liberals view Senator Yarborough not only as the lone liberal with any real chance to beat Mr. Connally but also as a man who would hasten the conservatives’ departure from the Democratic Party. ACTUALLY, the Democratic monopoly in the South ceased in 1952 as far as Presidential elections are concerned : Virginia and Florida, in fact, are now regarded as quite likely to back the Republican candidate in any contest for President. But Southern conservatives have blocked the emergence of effective GOP organizations on the state and local levels by choosing to maintain control of the state Democratic organizations rather than formally transfer party allegiance. Only Texas conservatives have shown an inclination to break the tie to the Democratic Party, partly because growing liberal strength has made the Texas party less comfortable for conservatives and partly because of the evangelical fervor of the state’s youthful Republican leaders. What had been a gradual evolution of a two-party system in Texas assumed revolutionary proportions after the surprise election of Republican John Tower to fill Mr. Johnson’s old Senate seat last spring. Since then, the GOP has broken the Democratic monopoly over the state legislature by winning two special elections. And the Republicans figure to pick up additional legislative and Congressional seats next year. Most important, Mr. Tower’s victory has triggered a formal switch of party allegiance by significant numbers of conservatives, many of them in well publicized “resignation rallies.” The answer by Mr. Johnson and his associates to this phenomenon is the Connally candidacy. Tall, dark and handsome, the Fort Worth lawyer brings to life the Hollywood version of the Texan who rose from humble beginnings to wealth and power. His intimate connections with the politically potent oil and gas industry \(he was executor of oil millionaire Sid man Jack Cox, a converted conservative Democrat who will be the Republican candidate for governor. But he seems sufficiently far enough to the left of Mr. Cox to attract liberal support in the general election if he is nominated ; there is no possibility that liberals would then boycott Mr. Connally as they did right wing Democrat WilliamBlakley this year to pave the way for Senator Tower’s triumph. “We know what Lyndon is doing,” complains one leading Texas liberal. “He’s reversing the trend to a twoparty system. We’re in bad trouble.” Emphasizing the validity of this warning was the simultaneous support Mr. Connally won from both conservative businessmen and liberal-leaning Mexican-American leaders within a few days after he announced his candidacy. Moreover, the grand design of the Johnson forces extends beyond next year. It envisions Mr. Connally spend AUSTIN The tragic flaw of capital punishment is the uncertainty of justice. Who knows how Shirley and Clifford Barnes died? Who can say whether Howard Stickney was telling the truth when he said \(to a man in Minnesota, a girl in Nova Scotia, the Canadian Mounties, and since his does not know? Who can say whether he was telling the truth when he signed the confession? Who can say whether he was lying whenthe day after he signed that confessionhe charged the state with welching on a promise to give him mental care in return for saying he did the killings? Who can explain why Stickney’s first lawyer withdrew from the case with the announcement that Stickney had just signed a false confession ? Who can explain why this lawyer, Jack Knight, told Stickney to shut up about his account, a complete defense if true, that he woke up and found Shirley hollering rape and Clifford hitting her with a tire tool, and that he grabbed the tool and hit Clifford ? Who can say whether Stickney really just “made this up” or has a subconscious memory of it but was too drunk at the time to remember later consciously? Who can say what would have happened at the jury trial at which Stickney was convicted: IF R.E.L. Fox and his story of seeing a larger beach party with Stickney unconscious and Barnes and James Vittitoe threatening each other had been presented to them? IF the jury had heard from Agnes Ogilvie of Nova Scotia, to whom Stickney told his story of waking up and finding the Barneses dead? IF the jury had realized that Stickney at first had no thought of fleeingVittitoe says this now, in his Observer interviewbut that Vittitoe told him nobody would believe “his story” and actually gave him $112 ing four years in the statehouse and then whipping Senator Tower in the Republican’s bid for re-election in 1966. As far as next year is concerned, there are signs that careful political groundwork preceded Mr. Connally’s formal announcement. It is widely believed that Governor Price Daniel, who usually is on cordial terms with Mr. Johnson, has been talked out of trying for a fourth term : a battlescarred veteran of factional feuding, Reporter Mr. Daniel would be poorly cast as the architect of new party unity. Cong. Jim Wright, a Johnson protege who entered politics as a liberal and now straddles the middle of the road, declared last weekend he would not make his long-rumored try for the governorship ; his liberal past would disqualify him as a party leader to keep conservatives in the Democratic fold. LIBERALS have been meeting in hurriedly-convened strategy huddles ever since Mr. Connally’s announcement. But they have recognized in advance the one hope they have : A campaign for governor by Senator Yarborough, the only liberal with enough prc. ,stige to unite labor, liberal intellectuals, minority groups and farmers into a coalition with any chance of beating Mr. Connally. For example, Senator Yarborough might be the lone liberal candidate who could induce organized labor to risk future reprisals at the hands of a hos and headed him for the state line toward Mississippi? IF the jury had heard from Miss Ogilvie that Stickney had told her he was going, to go back to the U.S. and try to clear things up, and that he had actually headed back? IF the jury had knownif the lawyers for either side had had the luck or interest or time or had bothered to find outthat the Barneses had had very serious marital difficulties, involving Clifford’s stupid and sadistic cruelty to her and her own fear of sex ? WOULD A JURY that had heard Stickney’s story that he did not know what happened, and the Barneses’ doctors’ testimony that Shirley had been a virgin after several years married to Clifford and that Clifford the fall before the murders inflicted a grievous, brutal sexual injury on herwould the jury have given Stickney death ? Would they even have found him guilty ? Writing to “Agnes” in Canada was like sending a message in a bottle on the open sea. Should her answer help him now, it would only stress again the uncertainty of justice. Well, perhaps he is guilty. Who knows? Perhaps he is not. Who knows? And this is the point about capital punishment, not whether a man is guilty or innocentobviously some men are guilty, and Stickney may be one of thembut whether the processes of the law, the procedures we have devised to approach justice, are sufficiently fool-proof, error-proof, carelessness-proof, to justify our certain conclusion that anyone is guilty of murder and ought to be killed once and for all, beyond all correction for human error or carelessness or don’tgive-a-damnism. There are many other points about capita! punishment. That two wrongs do not make a right. That killing felons has no statistically perceivable tile governor by waging a full-scale campaign against Mr. Connally. To be sure, a Yarborough-Connally battle would involve many personal considerations. Texas politicians believe Mr. Connally silently has coveted the governor’s mansion for many years, and his restiveness in the subcabinet post of Navy Secretary is well known in Washington. Mr. Yarborough’s dream of serving as governor is no secret, and he would relish the thought of humiliating old foe Johnson. Even the Vice President is not without personal motives ; he and whatever Presidential ambitions he still harbors would be deprived of a political base in a two-party Texas where conservative Republicans and liberal Democrats battled for power with Mr. Johnson on the sidelines. FROM A BROADER standpoint, the outcome of a ConnallyYarborough contest would be felt throughout the South. The defeat of so prominent a liberal as Senator Yarborough almost certainly would convince many Southern conservatives of the wisdom to remain within the Democratic Party rather than defecting to the Republicans. And without a two-party South, those who favor recasting the two national parties on more rigidly ideological grounds can make little progress. Yet, some Texas politicians believe the election of John Connally as the next Texas governor could do no more than postpone the inevitable. If social and economic trends ultimately mean more than the machinations of men in political warfare, they probably are right. For the increasing industrialization and urbanization of Texas and the South will make it increasingly more difficult for a Democratic Party that means all things to all men to maintain hegemony in Dixie. relationship to the rates of capital crimes. That the august state should not kill. That crime is a social symptom that needs treatment, not abhorrence and hate. But the Stickney case illustrates most vividly that in the complex, tortuous processes of capturing, questioning, and trying an accused man, witnesses get lost or shunted aside, zealous prosecutors act as judge and jury themselves with evidence that would help the accused, defense lawyers worry about their own reputations and lose track of essential facts and leads, newspapers fan public indignation, and what finally is presented to the jury may be only a small fraction, may often be a distorting and misleading fraction, of the evidence available to establish the guilt or innocence of the accused. The case also illustrates the macabre inflexibility of the courts, once a man has been condemned. “Why can’t we get into court on this?” Stickney asks. Although plenty of new evidence is available for a new trial, the law is very strict about how a new trial can be ordered. After a certain point the trial judge may not have authority to re-open the case. The prosecuting attorneys bitterly fight any attempt to re-open it, and in this case the state’s highest criminal court has actually ordered a district judge to keep his hands off the case because he obviously believes Stickney has not been proved guilty. HOWARD STICKNEY whiles away his time on Death Row. The harshness of his prospect cannot be mitigated by the relevance of his case to the abolition of capital punishment, but it may be some comfort to him that whether he lives or dies, his trial and execution will have demonstrated to all who trouble themselves with the facts that capital punishment is a primitive abomination which has no place in the modern world. R.D. Uncertainty of Justice
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