I’m in love with Janey Austin What’s a Dolph Briscoe rally without a singalong, I always say. I have a morbid presentiment that we will never again approach the operatic panache, the sheer joy of last year’s classic “Let’s Glow for Briscoe” evening, but I think we earned a solid B on Oct. 30. For one thing, we didn’t have to follow the words on some dinky little song sheet. The words were writ large, very large, across five giant slide-screens slung across the back of the stage of Austin Municipal Auditorium. The words changed smoothly as we worked our way through: “We’re in love with Janey, “So much in love with Janey, “Ever and ever, fascinated by her .. . “Sets our hearts on fire to stay . . . ” My nomination for the second-best vocal effort of the evening was the chorale ensemble doing lyrics as follows: “Texas, I love you “I love you, Texas “Texas, I love every inch of you. “I love Rockport, Aransas Pass, El Paso, Irving, Dallas, Greenville, Dimebox, Katy, Houston, Sugarland, Corpus Christi, Palestine . . . ” And more, Much more. You think I’m kidding, don’t you? Ha! I heard the whole thing. THE LATEST Briscoe rally \(you should pardon my burying the big news: he did announce he was going to run for a serious questions. There was, for one thing, the matter of Fresh Departures. Out of my deep respect for my beloved confreres on the editorial page of the ‘Dallas Morning News, I try to be conservative when I can. It so happens that I have been attending Texas political fundraisers for several years now and am a traditionalist, even a sentimentalist about these affairs. Not since the night Roy On fed the multitudes with hamburgers have I seen such a shocking disregard for established custom as was displayed by the Briscoes. First the worst no booze. Not even beer. Simple, straightforward unTexianism is what I call that. Further, at 25 bucks a head, no dinner. We got picnic lunches. In lunchbuckets. I won’t tell you who called it “a cute idea,” but you’d be shocked. Now when in Dolph Briscoe’s career, born had a damn thing to do with lunchbuckets? Kiss my hardhat. Where is the Jetton barbecue of yesteryear? Where is one decent speech among the 15 golden godawfuls? 0 tempora, o mores! For another thing, I found the whole evening more than a little scary. Sports fans, Texas politics has just done been Nixonized. It took me a shamefully long time to remember what the Briscoe rally was reminding me of my dejci vu finally got so strong I had some difficulty distinguishing it from nausea. Multi-media, music on soundtracks, live orchestra on cue, chorale of fresh-scrubbed youth, slides in the background, mellifluous overvoice of the narrator, don’t let the candidate say much, short speeches with no content, where, where, slick, orchestrated, vacuous but too technically well-done to be totally boring, where, where . . . ? Oh, OF COURSE. \(Hit yourself in the head three Convention, Miami, 1972. Essence of Republican Miami. It was the slide show that finally did it for me. Folks, do you want to know how much money can buy? It can buy enough to make Dolph Briscoe look like Mr. Dynamite. And I find that scary. How, you may ask, does one glamorize Dolph Briscoe? The man, despite what merit he has, has all the charisma of a breadpudding. I think Glenn Advertising of Dallas \(the men who almost made George Bush our an outstanding effort. That was the most sophisticated political presentation I have seen since last August in Miami and it may even top what I saw there. It lasted 20 minutes, it used anywhere from one to all five of the slide screens simultaneously, it featured a constantly shifting array of images, all cued to a smooth, four-balls voice telling us what a good man Briscoe is. The approach had several things going for it: one was, it had the good sense not to allow Briscoe himself to speak one single word on the sound track: the second was, Dolph Briscoe is a good man. No one I have ever heard of, and Texas politics can be a nasty business, has ever questioned the man’s integrity, but that’s not the point. However, if that’s the only point that’s being made, it’s hard to quarrel with it. Try this, in color Texas is a great state, cattle, high plains, oil wells, Dolph, cotton, city skylines, freeways, Dolph, country music, blues music, we used to have a bad state government, little chicano children, little black children, now we have an honest governor, Dolph,’ Dolph and Janey, bluebonnets, rivers, creeks, streams, Dolph, rodeos, forests, Six Flags, the Astrodome, the Gulf, a seawall, beaches, Dolph cares, lakes, state fair, square dance, country folks, Dolph’s a businessman, football stadiums, football games, Dolph understands, sunsets, wildflowers, yes; Texas is a great state, close on Dolph’s sturdy, smiling, brown face. What that is, folks, aside from .a pile of manure, is a truly great, a superb political slide show. I don’t know what it cost Briscoe’s p.r. man wouldn’t tell me. But I do know it involves a helluva lot more money that we ever spent on Sissy or Ralph Yarborough. They raised $750,000 for Briscoe that night, $750,000 before it is even campaign year, much less campaign season. And Jess Hay, Briscoe’s appointee to the Democratic ‘ National Committee who was in charge of that dinner, can kiss my lunchbucket if ‘ he didn’t use the Maurice Stans fundraising method. People were assigned’ quotas for that dinner assigned set sums of money they either had to kick in themselves or raise from others. Be it never so politely suggested. There are further questions about the money raised at the rally. Jess Hay proudly claimed that 9,000 people attended the thing. Even allowing him all 9,000 at $25 a head that would account for less than a third of the money raised. In other words, some person or persons paid for huge blocks of tickets. In further shades of Maurice Stans, there is still considerable question about what they money is to be used for. Briscoe owes himself $800,000 from money he spent out of his own pocket for expenses in both his 1968 and 1972 gubernatorial campaigns. Can Briscoe use money he raises as governor to pay off the debts he incurred before he became governor? Is this using his office for private financial gain? These questions were raised, naturally, by a Republican; specifically, by Jack Warren of Tyler, who bodes fair to become the next state Republican Party chairman. The Briscoe folk have sort of lamely replied that if using the money to pay off Briscoe’s debts to himself turns out to be illegal, it will be used in next year’s campaign. And that raises the spectre of the old Stans-get-your-contribution-in-early trick. IAM worred. I’m a political reporter, not a g.d. film critic. I’m also a buckle-and-thonger on the idea that The People are not dumb. But it’s not for sure that Texans are real sophisticated about this kind of political pornography. This goes beyond what Bentsen did to Yarborough that was plain old nasty and .effective. Or what Bush tried to do image, image. This is a new kind of politics-as-manipulation: Nixon’s kind. There are a few reporters like Joe McGinniss who have managed to November 16, 1973 23
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