Of Republican women & GOP pols Dallas Just about every national-weight Republican politician in the universe, plus a slew of lighter weights, showed up in Dallas in September for the convention of the National Federation of Republican Women. Basically, the GOP offers neither aid nor comfort in our upcoming 200th birthday election to anyone left of Charles W. Fairbanks.* For most Texas liberals, who would sooner give up barbecue than vote Republican, this news is doubtlessly underwhelming. Nevertheless, those of the progressive persuasion beyond our borders not infrequently regard the GOP as an alternative to the more egregious outcroppings of Democracy. From time to time, a principled conservative like the late Senator Taft of Ohio has seemed a Galahad compared to a Tammany-tainted Democrat. It is true that the only time the Texas liberal community ever went Republican in order to stave off the advent of yet another Bourbon Democrat netted us nothing more than 12 years of John Tower. Still one tries to approach the Republicans with hope. Hope died in Dallas. IT MAY NOT be quite fair to the Republican pols to judge them on the basis of their Dallas performance. After all, any good pol will offer different strokes for different folks, and the National Federation of Republican Women is not the audience to bring out any closet strain of progressivism in a pol. The NFRW is mighty white and strong on the blue rinse. They numbered somewhere between two and three thousand, counting alternates and guests, and were overpowering en masse. Jane Ely of The Houston Post claims they were especially overpowering in the shuttle buses, where their perfumes clashed. Generally speaking, NFRW women seem to come in two flavors: they are either heavy in the avoirdupois or suffer from severe cases of Episcopalian thighs. In their favor, they do not wear tennis shoes. In a fit of hopeless home state chauvinism, we note that Anne Armstrong and Nellie Connally showed more personal style than most anyone else in the whole bunch, except for the lady from Massachusetts who told funny dirty jokes about Teddy Kennedy. In further fairness to the pols, it should be noted that none of them engaged in that peculiarly nasty form of tackiness made famous by our late lamentable veep S. Agnew. Tackiness is out with Republicans \(pace *Fairbanks was the Republican vice-presidential nominee in 1904 and in 1916. 4 The Texas Observer ‘Connally & Ford: the ideals of the Nixon-Agnew militaryindustrial, Ev-and-Jerry, Barry-and-bombs school of Republicanism are with us still. It is rumored that there are yet extant fabulous creatures known as liberal Republicans. One hears of a McCloskey in California, a Weicker of Connecticut. Those folks should not be placed on an endangered species list: they should be considered veritable unicorns. In NFRW circles, Ike was a liberal. The NFRW’s current nominee for liberal is Vice President Nelson Rockefeller. The reception accorded Rockefeller was two handclaps this side of warm. Correct that; it was just enough claps to be polite and not one clap more. Rockefeller, for his part, did the political equivalent of standing in the snow outside the Pope’s door. He came out for fiscal responsibility. He confessed his sins. He said he had been part of the problem \(in his 16 years as governor of New York, the blame. Hea culpa. He also dumped on New York City for having run itself nigh to bankruptcy while he was governor and NYC never got anything close to its fair share of state revenues. Rockefeller is good on his feet. Any politician who can condemn busing while offering a plausible explanation for why he is sending his own children to private schools is good on his feet. \(A. He believes in public schools. B. He proved that because when he was governor the state spent a whole lot of money on public schools. C. He has also always recognized the role of private education in this country, which is traditionally where experimental, innovative, and progressive changes in education have come from. D. He also for veep in ’76, he has no interest in pursuing that post [he only met privately with Texas Republican leaders to discuss thrpe-dimensional chess] , he is traveling only to support the President’s programs, and he is not politicking. Also not running for the veepancy is Ronald Reagan, former governor of California. He is running for the Presidency. Reagan is good-looking, as advertised. He has a most pleasant speaking style, as advertised. And he goes down as easy as vanilla ice cream, as advertised. Furthermore, he has a record. He left California with a surplus in its treasury, he cut the welfare rolls, he knows the dangers of communism, and he is a loyal Republican who has stumped for obscure Congressional candidates in Louisiana and other hopeless spots. From a liberal point of view, it’s hard to imagine more wrongheadedness wrapped in a more palatable package. The Republican women love him. He leaves one feeling grateful for Democrats. At least most of them sweat. The President was a pleasant surprise at his first speech and brought to mind LBJ’s aphorism about him during his second. The first speech was to the NFRW and it was a good show. A pol in his element. A sympathetic, nay, adoring audience. A chance to get in some stout partisan punches, knowing they would go down well. Balding, but with vigor. And a nice guy. Not a bit above himself. Shook hands with every turkey on the platform, with enthusiasm. Had nice things to say about everybody. Even got Connie Armitage, president of the NFRW \(whose usual manner makes Dean Acheson seem like a pleased, and even thrilled. Some cynics have noted that there was a time when we took for granted that our President was a decent man, a nice guy, and expected a few other qualities in addition. Ron Nessen, the President’s press secretary, does not like cynics. Blue rinse & wet look
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