The Old Humphrey My but you got a fine piece of Texas girlhood tending desk. \(His eves twinkle out from under a furrowed You gonna leave us alone, honey? LIZ SNOOK Oh, Mr. President. I mean \(She backs out the door, closing it and, judging from the LBJ Sit down, boy. \(He sits, too, letting the gown Damn, these things are hot! Don’t you sweat up a storm in yours? \(He fans himENDICOTT: One doesn’t usually wear them to class. LBJ: But I’s outside, lecturing while I walked. Thought it looked better, somehow. ENDICOTT: You lecturedwhile walking? Oh, my dear fellow! LBJ: Used to conduct some real fine press conferences that way. ENDICOTT: Ah! That is precisely why I requested this meeting. \(He picks up a LBJ: That something to sign? Damn, I haven’t done that like I used to. Hand her here. ENDICOTT: No, no. I’m afraid these are complaints. LBJ: Who the hell by? ENDICOTT: Ah students, Your students. They LBJ: If they bitching about those pop quizzes I gave each of ’em on the phone at 3 a.m., I ain’t ever doing that again. Lady Bird chewed me out for fair on that. ENDICOTT: Well, that is on the list. LBJ: What you mean “list?” \(He claps on mortarboard and fixes Endicott with ENDICOTT Quite a lung one, I’m afraid. Almost everyone objected to being held in class one hour and 48 minutes after the bell. And the student you expelled for asking about Brown & Root LBJ: That peckerwood! ENDICOTT: Yes, but to expel him on the spot, sir! LBJ: Frank Erwin didn’t mind, I don’t think. ENDICOTT Indeed he wouldn’t. LBJ: Now what was that? ENDICOTT It’s the questions, Mr. President, the questions! Students want to question you but you seem to resent it. And they resent your questions, sir. I mean to give a mid-term with 50 true and false! One just can’t answer a question about the nature of communism today with “true” or “false.” LBJ: By God, I had to. And I didnq get no 15 minutes to do it in, neither! I want my students to see the presidency as I did. ENDICOTT: Ah, they say that’s all you tell, sir: your side. It is a bit quick when you teach a course called “The Power and Problems of the Presidency” and yop reach November 23, 1963, with the third lecture. L133: Now, just let me tell you some The Texas Observer thing. I happen to know that my students wanted that. They wanted a firsthand account. According to a little poll I took that first class, 87.3% favored conducting class along these lines. So I did. \(He leans back and crosses his legs, his ENDICOTT \(picking up another sheet But that was in September, sir. Now a poll taken in October showed only 35.6% favoring this approach. And early last week LBJ: \(He says nothing but the intensity of his silence deserves a line to itENDICOTT: Ah . . . Mr. Johnson. Sir? Are you all right? You look a bit febrile, sir. . . LBJ: \(coming to his feet like a NASA Goddammit to hell and back! Am I gonna have to go through the rest of my life? \(He slams the mortarboard down And here. In Texas!! ENDICOTT: But but sir. It . . . it’s just a matter of style. If LBJ: STYLE: I got My STYLE! \(He snatches up the mortarboard, slaps it on and strides for the door, glaring back at the astonished Endicott. Naturally, he doesn’t notice that Liz Snook has started Austin The questions this fall are these. Which of the presidential candidates is likeliest and ablest to end the war? Which of them is likeliest to effect actual domestic justice? Under which of them is the reaction against dissent and civil liberty likely to become fiercer? Would Humphrey’s election hurt or help the reform of the Democratic party? What should be our underlying desire maximum reform now, or maximum disruption for the next four years, or what’ The overarching problem is not only to make one’s own guess and decision about the answer to each of these questions, but to arrange these answers according to their relative importance and to come to a general judgment on what one should do on November the fifth. This challenge in the exercise of judg. ment comes to each of us in the midst of such a welter of emotion-arousing events, we cannot fail to have become aware of a much higher ‘level of personal abuse than we are accustomed to. Obviously, everyone must make up his mind without caring about that, at all. I have been meditating, listening, and reading for the last few weeks, and I concluded last night, after Humphrey’s policy broadcast on Vietnam, that I am going to vote for him. For some, Humphrey’s and the Democratic party’s demonstrated concern for to open it, and he walks into it, leading with his nose as he turns to leave. You must imagine the sound for it is indescribable. He yanks the door open with such force that it slams back against the wall. Endicott’s diplomas fall to the floor with a great splintering of glass. Johnson can be heard receding into the distance, LIZ SNOOK \(peering around the door, I just thought I had to look in. I just thought I could help. ENDICOTT \(collapsed in his chair, Very good Mrs. Snook. LIZ SNOOK: We should have called him by his full title, Dr. Endicott. That means so much. ‘Specially now. ENDICOTT: Yes, Mrs. Snook. LIZ SNOOK: We just mustn’t ever forget. He’s our Guest Professor of Government and Politics Extraordinary, Lyndon Baines Johnson, Former President of These United States. This university must remember that. ENDICOTT: I fear that the University of Texas will never be allowed to forget it, Mrs. Snook. \(He turns an urbane, fatalistic little smile upon her; but to Liz the poor and oppressed of our own country is the most compelling factor. For others, the prospect of Humphrey losing, followed by they hope only four years of Nixon and then a modern Democrat’s election to succeed him, comes first. Some want a right-wing repression and chaos. To me, the controlling question is ending the war. The reformist domestic liberalism of Humphrey and the Democrats is a vital factor, of course, but it would not have been enough to cause me to conclude, this year, to vote for Humphrey. There is something too brutally selfish about voting on the basis of our own domestic welfare while we are wrongfully decimating the people of a small nation in Asia. The proven peace-oriented international liberals would have a better chance to prevail within the Democratic party in 1972 against the militarist and big-business interests that controlled it at Chicago, and this, in my own mind, I have weighed in on the side of neutralism or a McCarthy write-in this year. But the point that Nixon is probably adaptable enough to assure his re-election and that what we would be looking at would be, not four, but eight years of his Republicanism, is an important likelihood, weakening the force of the 1972 take-over argument. There are those who wish for a rightwing repression, a destructive convulsion,
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