I Newspapers Magazines Political Specialists Signs and Placards Bumperstrips Office Supplies 100% Union Shop PRESS Phone 512/442-7836 1714 SOUTH CONGRESS ii P.O. BOX 3485 AUSTIN, TEXAS Happiness Is Printing By IFTURA Fusin’ and feudin’ Austin Why do Texas liberals behave like the northern Irish’? Or, as a Feiffer character would say, why do we keep doing this to ourselves? The latest outcropping of liberal fractricide has appeared in Austin and is complicated by feminist politics. The race in the 10th congressional district is and State Rep. Larry Bales of Austin. Pickle, even in his better days, when he voted more or less down the line with his mentor Lyndon Johnson on domestic issues, was never even a semi-hero to liberals. According to the Almanac of American Politics, “Since Johnson left office, Pickle’s liberal votes have become increasingly rare, both on roll call votes and in the Interstate and Foreign Commerce Committee.” Old libs still resent Pickle’s fink outs of the Fifties in state party politics. Pickle is a notoriously goosey politician. And, either because he faces competition from his left or simply because he has been seized by zeal for the public weal, he has lately been sticking like a bulldog on some smelly matters involving ITT and our gummint. BALES WAS one of the reform class of ’72. He was a member of Speaker Price Daniel’s reform team and carried a lot of water for Common Cause during the last session. Granted, he would not have been first on anyone’s list for Outstanding Freshman of the Year, but he did have the guts to jump into what most folks considered a “suicide race” against Pickle. But in the man time, Bales had managed to get at least half-way cross-wise with Rep. Sarah Weddington, also of Austin, who, depending on who is doing the analysis, may be more liberal than he and is certainly a lot stronger on women’s issues. As is typical of liberal in-fights, the Protagonists hold almost nothing against 16 The Texas Observer each other and both, indeed, are rather puzzled as to how all this got started. But their various minions and camp-followers have managed to convince themselves and each other that nothing short of a great feud is at hand. The specific charges are that Bales introduced only one or two pieces of legislation and then reneged on them in committee; was a do-nothing in general and is now claiming to have done a lot of things he didn’t do \(“inflating your record for a campaign is one thing, but lying is another,” we were told by an angry egregiously wrong vote on abortion and either did not help or did not help much with Weddington’s bill ending sex discrimination in the grating of credit. Bales did vote for the Weddington bill, and he also claims to have worked the floor for it. But Weddington’s aides say they have no recollection of having seen him do any lobbying for the bill. On the other hand, Bales’ proponents point out that Weddington was absent on a number of crucial votes; went home during a verification count during which her vote was greatly needed and \(we think this is generally ticked some people off by being holier than thou. “You can’t count on her,” griped one member of the speaker’s team. On at least one occasion when Weddington was missing on an important vote, a few of the hardnoses in the reform camp indulged their unfortunate propensity for “chewing ass,” and that in turn engendered no small degree of resentment among Weddington’s partisans. The affaire has not infrequently descended to the level of a third-grade tussle on the playground at recess. Some of Bales’ allies spread absurd stories about Weddington-as-a-stalking-horsefor-Farenthold when Weddington urged Speaker Daniel not to run for statewide office while serving as convention chairman. In fact, there has been a good deal of “Well, I heard that so-and-so said such-and-such about you,” kind of tittle-tattle being passed around. Part of the problem lies in differences of style. Weddington is a lady. She does not drink and is not, obviously, one of the boys. Bales’ chums include Buck Wood of Common Cause, the Wendler brothers \(Ken is Travis County Democratic chairman and officially neutral in the congressional race and Ed is a reformed lobbyist who devotes Carlton Carl, the speaker’s administrative assistant and, by extension, Bob Bullock notorious topers all. The Weddingtonites suspect a dark plot by the Wendlers, et al, to build a political machine in Austin under their sole control. The Balesites in turn think that Wed dington \(and her fellow feminist Jane Wells of the State Board of of their own and are out to spoil Bales’ race simply because they think he’d be harder to unseat in the future than Pickle. THE UPSHOT of all this paranoia was the entirely unexpected endorsement of Pickle by the Austin Women’s Political Caucus. The Caucus, as chairperson Liz Parker explained, does not make endorsements on traditional political ideological lines. The fact that Bales is more liberal than Pickle is of no particular interest to the caucus: its concern is how the candidates stand on women’s issues. No one ever claimed that Pickle reads Ms., but he is supposed to have promised that he would not sign a petition asking for a re-opening of the abortion question and to have kept his promise. The best that can be said of Pickle’s feminist record is that he hasn’t done anything seriously wrong. There seemed to be some feeling among the women that while Bales has voted mostly right on women’s issues, he harbors sexist attitudes. If that is the caucus’ rationale, it will have to do some fast explaining of its endorsement of Bob Bullock for comptroller. \(The endorsement of Bullock was made by the Texas Women’s Political Caucus, rather than the Austin caucus, but members of the latter may have sterling qualities, he can still top Bales for sexist attitudes any day of the week and twice on Sundays. The Bales camp holds that Weddington and Wells were responsible for the Pickle endorsement. Although it is true that Carol Y o n ts, Wed dington’s administrative assistant, was present at the endorsement session; she reportedly remained scrupulously neutral. Another theory is that Pickle’s people “packed” the meeting. It wouldn’t have been hard: not many people turned out and apparently there were a few who had plunked down their $15 to join only a few days before. Still another theory is that many of the women in the Texas \(and soulmates of Liz Carpenter. The inimitable Carpenter, longtime friend of the Lyndon Johnsons, is also close to Pickle. Bales’ people did not take the loss well in fact, they spent a couple of days rather mercilessly warting their liberal female friends about how they had voted on the endorsement. While intramural liberal bloodletting is always a waste and a shame, this half-jelled little feud carries some dread cultural overtones. It so happens that Larry Bales is the scion of the Scholz Beer Garten dynasty and, in fact, manages the joint. This could destroy liberal unity permanently. Scholz’s may be the last thing in town all liberals agree on. M.I.
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