CIVIL DEFENSE APPROVED FALLOUT SHELTER $5.00 up No Charge for Children Under 18 24-Hour Coffee Shop Radio-Television Completely Air Conditioned FREE INSIDE PARKING anb HOTEL Commerce-Murphy-Main Streets Telephone: Riverside 2-6431 Dallas, Texas A Texan Looks at A Texan Looks at Lyndon: Sweet Reason vs. Black Passion Fulton, Mo. It would be simple enough to dismiss A Texan Looks at Lyndon as an exercise in deceit and J. Evetts Haley as the master of same if liberal-minded Texans could still afford the luxury of regarding the radicalright as the radical-right regards them, but that day is past. We are in contention with a movement which evidently visualizes only two alternatives for its future: as a fundamentalist oligarchy dedicated to the suppression of “off-color drama and the pornographic novel,” or a kind of West Texas Viet Cong. To regard them as Neanderthals roaming the plains with their knuckles dragging in the buffalo grass only increases the possibility of their defection from our traditions of civil procedure. My point is that there is enough namecalling going on. If Mr. Haley chooses to stand on the right bank and wet In the Mainstream, that is his business, and we have no business standing on the other bank doing the same. We have a sizeable minority in our country easily capable of disrupting civil procedures, and our job is not to ostracize them into total alienation, but to listen to them, conciliate them where their grievances are valid, and neutralize them where they are not. Those left behind by trends in social organization are just as dangerous to our society as those put out of work by automation, and potentially more dangerous. This is much the frame of mind in which I read Haley’s book on President Johnson, more interested in what Haley stood for than in what he had to say about the President. It was a good thing, too, because the book is little more than a vicious personal attack. In the hard-fact department it is quite disappointing. There is little here you haven’t already read in Luce, Laskey, Human Events, or the Texas Ob-. serverthese last two, by the way, are Haley’s favorite sources, excepting God. In fact there aren’t really any good new rumors for the “See-He’s-Just-Like Fenstermaker-Society.” But for the student of rhetorical devices and fictional techniques the book is a gold-Mine. In the blurb on the back of the book Haley is credited with writing history that “reads like poetry.” A more accurate description of Haley’s technique is simply not available. All logical connections, casual and sequential, have been eliminated, and each word is used for its most destructive emotional effect. Strangely , enough, Lyndon himself is a Dave Hickey teaches creative writing at William Woods College in Fulton, Mo. He edited Riata, the student literary magazine at the University of Texas, for two years and received his M.A. from the University. He is from Fort Worth. Dave Hickey .rather peripheral character in this book. The total effect is a little like reading an Ian Fleming novel for which James Bond failed to show up. The evil force here is not SMERSH but LBJ, and like all evil forces it operates mainly in mysterious ways, elusively, just out of reach, but you can feel its presence. The narrative technique is what Ford Madox Ford would call one of “tangential relevancy.” First Haley establishes a relationship between the President and some Texas folk-hero such as Billie Sol or George Parr. Then he relates in gruesome detail the activities and documented short-comings of said folk hero with the heavy-handed implication that the wily agents of LBJ are at work in the background, and that his enormous ear is to the ground or rather the telephone. This technique is also employed consistently with Bobby Baker, Morris Jaffe, George and Herman Root of Brown & Root, and others. It would all be very interesting if the facts were new and ungarbled. Unfortunately they aren’t, and the digressions seem oddly out of place in a book about the greatest folk hero of them all. The gossip in you keeps wanting real dirty facts, something Bill Brammer doesn’t know, but all you get is the real dirty rumors. AGAIN AND AGAIN Haley is forced to admit that malevolent LBJ has covered his tracks too skillfully. Again Editor’s Note J. Evetts Haley’s A Texan Looks at Lyndon has becomeone of the major underground factors in the campaign against Lyndon Johnson for President. The Observer receives reports of the book being hawked at cut-rate prices door to door in Amarillo and of incredibly rapid sales to conservative sorts in Dallas. Haley, the Canyon, Texas, “Pro-American” textbook crusader, rancher, and writer, told Lewis Nichols of the New York Times that in four days he received orders for 210,000 copies of it and that orders come, not for one at a time, but primarily for lots of 100 to 10,000. In Los Angeles, according to the AP, Haley said Sept. 2 that 7,350,000 copies have been sold or are on order and that while he is not a Bircher, “I understand American Opinion bookstores have a connection with the [Birch] Society” and that he has had “tremendous orders” from these stores. The AP in Los Angeles quoted Howard Jarvis, head of a group named “Businessmen for Goldwater,” that he intends to distribute 150,000 copies of the book free.Ed. and again his spoor is merely hearsay. In fact Haley nearly manages to burst one of this native Texan’s favorite folk-myths. I have always found it fashionable and comforting to believe that Lyndon stole the senatorial election from Coke Stevenson \(it gives you the same kind of perverse pleasure as identifying with Flem veals that the whole case apparently rests upon the word of Stevenson, his two lawyers, and a Texas Ranger, just doesn’t sell me where I expected to be sold. I still believe it but only through faith. Don’t let this give you the idea that Haley is an amateur pamphleteer. He colors language, discredits authority, quotes out of context, passes hearsay as fact, and finds his subject guilty by association with a facility that makes Bruce Alger look like Horatio. While writing on Bobby Baker, Haley finds himself a little shorter on facts than Senator Williams, but his prose reads like the first draft of the Alexandria Quartet: September 18, 1964
You May Also Like
The Texas Rangers are tasked with investigating corruption and crimes by public officials. Those officials are rarely held accountable.