Texans reacted like most other Americans during that short but exceedingly vexatious period between the time Richard Nixon fired Archibald Cox and the time he decided to come through with the Watergate tapes. The citizens of this state sent an unprecedented number of letters and telegrams to their congressmen, most of them calling for impeachment. Sen. Lloyd Bentsen’s office reported receiving 2,417 letters during the first five days of the crisis; almost 80 percent of the messages were pro-impeachment.Kyle Thompson, Republican Sen. John Tower’s press secretary, said that Tower’s mail and wires were running as high as 10 to 1 for impeachment at the first of the week. By the end of the week, the ratio was down to about 2 to 1 against Nixon. Bentsen, a Democrat, stopped short of advocating impeachment proceedings. The day after Cox was fired, the senator said he was considering the introduction of a resolution demanding that the President relinquish the subpoeaned tapes. Tower, as usual, adhered to the official Nixon line. “The agreement worked out by the White House and the Watergate committee, which Cox did not agree to, was basically good and a positive means of resolving the problem,” he said. After the immediate crisis was over, Tower said, “Those partisan politicians that are lusting for his blood were, I think, very premature in demanding impeachment” \(on the basis that he had Congressman Bob Eckhardt, D-Houston, came out for impeachment proceedings, calling Nixon’s actions “an utterly shocking interference with the judicial sort of Political Intelligence process.” And Congresswoman Barbara Jordan, D-Houston, called the President’s scenario “the ultimate Saturday night special.” Henry Gonzalez, D-San Antonio, said it was “imperative” that the House consider impeachment. Congressman Bill Archer, R-Houston, chose to reserve judgment on Nixon and urged Congress not to “run pell-mell into emotional action.” After. Nixon promised to hand the tapes over to Judge Sirica, but before he announced that two key reels didn’t exist, a number of Texas representatives were minimizing the possibilities of impeachment. “You should not vote to impeach the President of the United States without being sure of what you are doing,” W. R. Poage, D-Waco, insisted. Bob Price, R-Pampa, said talk of impeachment wouldn’t get very far. Abraham Kazen, D-Laredo, said he didn’t know of “any impeachable acts” by the President. George Mahon, D-Lubbock, and 0. C. Fisher, D-San Angelo, both called impeachment moves “premature.” Early on, John Connally allowed as how the firing of Cox was “a healthy thing.” Then, on the interview show Capitol Eye, he took a few mild swipes at Nixon. “I must say that the President owed the country a better explanation for his actions than we got,” Connally said. He pointed out that he had “questioned the advisability of appointing a special prosecutor in the first place,” because there was nothing to lead him “to distrust the competence of the Department of Justice’s criminal division.” Concerning the tapes, Connally said, “There are many close questions that any chief executive has to deal with If indeed he was going to change his mind about the tapes, I’m sorry that he didn’t do it three months ago or four months ago. I think it would have saved him and saved the country an awful lot of trouble and chaos and confusion in the minds of some.” The Dallas Morning News tore into the swell-heads and fanatics who had dared to cast aspersions on The President. “Any President’s attempt to reach a compromise with elitist liberals is probably a futile activity,” the News said in an Oct. 25 editorial. “Why? Because, in the words of the clich, if a President gives an inch they’ll demand a mile. And when he gives a mile, they’ll demand 10 miles.” Robert E. Baskin, the News’ “Senior Political Analyst,’ wrote that the President had hit the nail on the head when he talked about the “outrageous, vicious, distorted,” etc., reportage by the news media. “We have always believed that the Watergate investigation was an expedition into folly and something that could not serve the best interest of this country or its people,” Baskin opined. “Now we have seen the proof of it where internal American politics so misled the Russians that we were at least on the threshold of a confrontation with the Kremlin.” Baskin concluded that fanatics “have cast aside responsibility in government and plunged into a phony morass of Puritanism that is not in accord with the demands and viabilities of our time.” But even the News had to catch its breath when President Truthful, as Nick Von Hoffman calls Nixon, announced that two of the tapes were mere figments of our collective imagination. “Too much,” concluded a News editorial Nov. 2: “In asking Americans to believe on faith that the administration has only now discovered that two of the crucial Watergate tapes do not exist, President Nixon is asking too much. He’s asking too much not only of the general public but of his most steadfast supporters as well.” The paper concluded that the Prez has the clear burden of proving his version of the story. For a sturdy analysis of how Leon Jaworski, the President’s new special prosecutor, and his mammoth law firm fit into the Houston structure, see Griffin Smith’s article on Houston’s legal supermarkets in the November Texas Monthly. It’s the most solid piece of reporting the magazine has done to date. Brown-baiting It was just like the good old days when we had the Vietnam War to November 16, 1973 13 Firestorm’
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The Texas Rangers are tasked with investigating corruption and crimes by public officials. Those officials are rarely held accountable.