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1,000,t malty Opinion “”, Liberal Lunacy r trON. ,#0.414,4%?#01 Dallas, Austin I never got around to making up my mind as between Robert Kennedy and Eugene McCarthy as my personal favorite for the Democratic presidential nomination. 1 thought. McCarthy deserved priority because Of his courage in blazing the trail of dissent from LBJ within the Democratic party this year. Yet I felt that RFK had a better chance of wresting the nomination from Johnson \(or stronger candidate nationwide, though not in Texas. It is now, alas, moot whom to prefer. Of course, we here in Texas can do little to help Senator . McCarthy get the nomination. The conservatives still control the state Democratic party and the delegation to the national convention. Those of you who are considering going to Chicago as part of a rump delegation from Texas to support McCarthy and embarrass President Johnson and Gov. John Connally will do well to follow your own consciences on that. I will say that there would be some propaganda value in raising some nationally-televised hell there this August; the example of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party at the 1964 convention is evidence that there is some worth in boat rocking. But don’t expect that the liberals from Texas will be seated, not so long as LBJ runs the party, and certainly not so long as the liberals’ credentials are in such shoddy order. Nor is there much likelihood that you’ll stop Humphrey or Connally, should, perish the thought, the delegates be of a mind to put the Texas governor on the ticket. Liberals can rant and rave against the unit rule, the stacked credentials committees, aid the retrogressives who run the Texas Democratic party. It matters not. Liberals are, in 1968, once again the losers. The challenge of the dissidents to the conservative delegation to Chicago is founded on no sound basis at all this year, cont. -ary to the situation in some previous years. The liberals at Dallas last week during the state convention handled themselves most ineptly and were an embarrassment to a political philosophy that deserves far better leadership than it gets. Where in hell were some of our liberal leaders last week, anyway? They weren’t in Dallas. Those who did show up bungled badly, making a hopeless situation worse; but give those who showed up credit: they cared enough to be on hand during a dark hour. The result of their presence, however, was not sound leadership nor a repre 14 The Texas Observer sentation to the state that liberalism is a thriving political movement in Texas, deserving of respect. Instead there was interfamilial rancour. Of course, the bitterness was born of profound frustration: Yet another failure to capture the gubernatorial nomination despite almost unprecedented disarray on the party’s right flank. The recent murders of Martin Luther King and Senator Kenendy. The inability to do anything real to help the challenge to Johnson/Humphrey in Texas. And the absence of savvy, experienced, reliable leadership in Dallas at the state convention. There have been low points for Texas liberalism in the past three decades, but I don’t believe the record low had been achieved until that wretched Monday night caucus at the Baker hotel. How the evening was completed without a fist fight or out-and-out riot I don’t know. I do know I have never seen so much ill will and unbridled bitching in one room as I saw that night. It was absolutely disgusting. It was the shame of liberalism and there is much hard work ahead of liberals in expiation of that dreadful scene. Small wonder that the McCarthy Western states campaign worker left for home in the middle of the caucus, commenting privately that he had seen, mostly, “mental masturbation” on the part of liberals during his several trips to Texas this spring. I fear that the pressures of assassinations, political impotence in our own state, the lure and jibes of the New Left, and the flaking away of people who should lead the movement have pushed Texas liberalism to ineptitude, deep confusion and self-doubt, sterility, almost to politically suicidal madness. What, then, to do about it? I have no comprehensive program to lead the movement back in the right direction. Right now, though, I think it absolutely imperative that liberals honestly and squarely face the truth: we are stumbling off in all sorts of directions and flailing away to no avail. It is, for example, the sheerest of folly for one liberal to stand up and tell other liberals, as was done at Dallas last week, that there is some real hope of the rump delegation being seated at Chicago. That is balderdash. More, it is cruelty to hold out the viability of such a prospect. Even if Texas liberals had a sound basis for contesting the conservative delegation in August, which assuredly is not the case, the power of Lyndon Johnson would prevail in seeing that that competing delegation didn’t get seated. Let those who would speak to Texas liberals speak honestly and not engage in idle or destructive pipe dreams. The fantasizing has reached dangerous proportions within liberalism this year. We have been told by workers in behalf of Kennedy and McCarthy that the Texas delegation could be won for either of those candidates, though the mathematical realities of the situation never held out that prospect; that was all irrevocably settled in the fall of 1966 when liberal precincts turned in a low vote for Connally because of acute disaffection from the governor and because of having no liberal on the ticket that November \(and convention delegate strength is apportioned in 1968 on the 1966 general We have seen the leader of the Kennedy drive in Texas first say he would form “an organization in every county” in Texas in the six weeks between RFK’s entry into the race and the Texas primaries. That was impossible. Then this statement was followed a few weeks later by the Texas RFK man’s publicly switching to Humphrey without first advising other key Kennedy workers in the state. The hope \(which the Observer embraced the “million new voters” would turn out at the polls this spring to bring liberals their longsought Armageddon proved futile and, in retrospect, overlooked the fact that in 1966, when some 600,000 new voters were specially registered they didn’t turn out either. The liberal response to the ‘defeat of Don Yarborough was not mature: there was too much complaining about the money the other side had. We knew they would have money. Dallas last week was impossible. The liberal caucus was plagued by personal axe-grinding, too many people vying for attention, too much dwelling on how good a liberal the speaker of the moment was \(somehow, liberal discussions invariably include such tangential lack of any sense, generally, about what to do. As it turned out it would have been better to have done nothing, just walk into the auditorium the next day and take the licking that the precinct and county conventions had assured. But the revulsion at going along with Connally as Texas’ favorite son candidate for president was understandably too great for most of the liberals at the convention to consider doing nothing. Allright then, do something effective. First it was decided to seek a two-week recess of the convention because of Senator Kennedy’s death, not that anyone here I know about really was so overcome that the convention would work an emotional hardship on them; rather, I believe the request for a recess was considered for two purposes: barrass the state party leaders, who were not expected to grant the two-weeks delay, thus m a k i n g them susceptible to liberals’ charges of callousness and lack of respect for RFK, whom the state party officials are well-known not to have admired; liberals time to think of something to challenge the Con