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‘Sorry, Kid don’t like arguments over my mornin’ coffee.’ ON THE HEAD OF A CLICHE Why the ‘Great Debates’ Won’t Come Off AUSTIN “Why won’t John debate Don?” That is the sign they are putting on top of the Yarborough cars in Dallas, and it asks a good question. Connally has given his answer, and he must live with it. He says in effect he will lose votes, and why should he lose votes ? All the debates would do is give Yarborough publicity. “I’m aheadwhy should I publicize the man in second place?” That is his answer. AFTER ALL, that has been the answer of traditional politics for some years. The Lincoln-Douglas debates are the only memorable example of great political debate of the formal kind in American history until the Kennedy-Nixon debates. Franklin Roosevelt followed the invariable rule : never mention your opponent’s name in your speeches ; it just publicizes him. The idea of debating him, AUSTIN J. W. Edgar, Texas commissioner of education, has put the full weight of that splendid office behind “Youth Crusade for God and Freedom,” headed by Dr. Walter K. Kerr of Tyler. Since it sounds very much like a kind of children’s auxiliary of the Strategic Air Command, this newspaper will reserve judgement pending the progress of the Cold War and the likelihood of Universal Military Training. In a recent letter sent out on Texas Education Agency stationery to Texas school superintendents, Edgar says he has been hoping “there would be an opportunity offering additional motivation to our students for our great way. of ‘life.” Every ‘ student in Texas, he believes, should have a chance to affiliate. The organization should have purposes similar to vocational clubs, student councils, and other high school groups. “The Youth Force will encourage our students to use, in full, all their talents. The effect, therefore, should be to strengthen our present teaching programs and youth organizations,” Edgar writes. A very handsome brochure is enclosed. Kerr, former chairman of the Texas Development Council, explains on page one that the Crusade “is a religious, patriotic, educational, motivating movement. It is non-denominational and non-political. It endeavors to give youth a greater appreciation, understanding, and participation in our great way of life.” On page five it is pointed out that members can participate in essay, oratorical, religious, and athletic events, and can “sponsor our radio and TV program ‘Crusade’ and personal appearance of our director, Walter Kerr. And Most Exciting ! We will hold GREAT YOUTH FORCE RALLIES FOR GOD AND FREE-the world where we stand.” We quote verbatim from page two: “You will be THE YOUTH FORCE “1.Training Wing “2.Thrust Wing “3.Combat Wing “1. Replacement Team “You move up as you learn. “The unit in the Wing is called a Named for the nucleusthe positive charge in the “It is organized by a leader who gets 12 others. This is 13 in all. Thirteen is a good number. “1.We are religiousnot superstitious. “2.There were 13 Colonies. THE TEXAS OBSERVER Page 5 May 19, 1962 of sharing the podium with him, was not even considered. The man who is ahead ignores the man who is behind; acts as though he doesn’t exist. Everybody who knows anything knows it’s a device to draw attention to one’s self to the exclusion of serious issues, but it has customarily been done because a lot of voters don’t know anything. Ah, there’s the rub. More and more voters know a little something. One of the things they know is that Kennedy and Nixon had those debates. If they, are the slightest bit interested in the governor’s race between Connally and Yarborough, they know that Yarbrough has challenged Connally to the same kind of debate, and Connally has refused, which makes him look scared, and contemptuous of the public’s right to know, as well. That is why Connally blundered. He tried to extend a precedent that won’t extend; he tried -to “3. There were 13 Apostles in all. “There are 13 in the Nucleapreferably : “7 Boys “6 Girls “\(It seems to work better that The brochure goes on to explain that each unit has an adult supervisor. The unit meets each month or week “when and where the group decides.” \(No mention is made of hipboots, helmets, or possible arm-bands, The purpose is cited on page three: “TO WIN THE WORLD FOR GOD AND FREEDOM \(It ain’t easybut Under “Improve Mentally,” is listed the study of our American Heritage, study of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, study of the lives of great Americans, study of the concepts of God and Freedom found in western civilization, learning of the principl6s on which our country and way of life are based, and lastly : “SpecialIf at all possible, raise your grades in school 10 points. \(Easy to sayhard to dobut neces-not be out-educated by anyone especially the Communists.” Under “strengthen physically,” such items as exercise, good health rules, and proper eating, sleeping, and dressing are listed, as well as “No dissipation Alcohol Narcotics OUTI mean like WAY out.” Under “Deepen Spiritually” : “\(The Communists have minds and bodies. So do weplus Godand that’s the reading the Bible, praying, going to church, volunteering services to ministers, priests, or rabbis, and “If you are not an active member, become one The Youth Force Guide, Membership card, Newsletters, Annual Dues, and Your Youth Force Charge costs $1.50. Rebuttal Truitt Lively, the John Bircher who ran unsuccessfully for the GOP nomination to the state Senate in Houston, provoked a minor controversy in the last days of the campaign. Lively, a school board member at Spring Branch, told a GOP rally at the Music Hall that the school district hopes to produce “20,000 conservative students” and that a course in civics and economics at the school is designed to turn out young conservatives. Response from fellow board members was swift. Russell Quantock summed up their thinking when he said : “I don’t buy that at all. It’s not the duty of the schobl district to turn out con I servatives or liberals. It’s the intent of the course to educate, not indoctrinate.” use a rule from the past in a present revolutionized by television. Unless Connally’s advisers are very dumb, they knew they would lose ground when they refused the debate, although they could hardly have expected the loss to be as serious as it has become. One must ask the question, therefore : “Why won’t John debate Don ?” John’s answer is not sufficient. It is plausible, but it is not sufficient. THE MOMENT one permits one’s thoughts to dawdle into these fields of speculation, one sees at once many of the real reasons why , John won’t debate Don. Connally has repudiated the New Frontierspecifically, he has repudiated medical care for the aged under social security and federal aid to education, two of the Democrats’ most important domestic reforms. Many Democrats in Texas do not realize that Connally took a position of high honor in the administration and now has come down to Texas and knifed it. Don Yarborough could be counted on to make that fact abundantly clear in a debate, as he does in his speeches. The special difficulty, however, is that in a debate Connally could not explain it. He could try, but it would sound like a man turning on his benefactor. This would embarrass Lyndon Johnson. Then, too, consider where Connally is getting his support : Shivers people, Republicans, big oil, big banks, big utilities. In a debate, Yarborough could demand Connally’s views on many public issues on which the public has a right to know where he stands. Yet every time he took a position, he would alienate either the Democrats, whom he is trying to con into supporting him because of his . ministration, or the big money, .the conservatives without whom he would have no chance at the governorship. Yarborough would not have this problem to such an extent, because he is more candid. People who don’t know generally where he stands can’t blame him. He said Tuesday, for example, that the run-off at this point is “a fight pitting Eastern monopolies against Texas businessmen and farmers.” There is the further fact that Con nally is ignorant of state government. Yarborough was just as ignorant when he ran for lieutenant governor against Ben Ramsey, but he has been boning up two years, and he knows his subject now. Connally has been You can engrave what he knows about Texas state government on the head of a cliche. Say, such as, “We’ve got to cut down on state spending,” or “Let’s everybody pull together for a better Texas,” or, “We’ve got to encourage business.” It would not take voters long to perceive that electing Connally, they would get a man who knows nothing about the job he wants except the big businessmen he wants to protect by holding it. Why won’t John debate Don? Because Don knows how to think on his feet. He is a debater because he is not afraid of the thoughts in his mind and therefore speaks them out. A man with Connally’s values knows that in a public debate, he will be defending himself, and hardly ever saying what he really means. This we have learned about Don Yarborough : he is forthright as hell. He says what is in ‘his head at the time. He is not all knotted up about the things he believes, because he likes the things he believes. APART FROM ALL this, there is a question that is deeper and more serious than any of these. Television is real. Politicians are tricksters, we all know that ; but television is real. How long will the politicians hold out against our new, technological right to confront them in our living rooms?to hear them and to see them face their opponents? Television is an abomination, but it could also be the invention which could return to American democracy all the immediacy and personal re-. sponsibility of citizenship in the ancient city state. No more the high and mighty, no more the cryptic, the authoritative, the men who ask us to give them our offices would have to come down among us and tell us who they are and what they think on this and that. We could see them think; we could _learn how they think ; we could know what they know. More of us realize this than John Connally realizes. John Connally misjudges us. R.D. A Healthy Project