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where they preside over “an ancient bitter struggle.” McGovern proposes, instead, a peace-keeping force drawn from the non-super powers. “What would we think or what would the Israelis think if there were 1200 Russians in Beirut?” he asked. The Senator said he would immediately invoke a freeze on the further deployment or construction of nuclear weapons. He would also take steps to right the economy and the problems of unemployment, to rein in the forces destroying the environment, and to address the crisis in education. For each speaking engagement, McGovern explained later, he chooses one or two such steps to explore in detail. That night in the Texas Union ballroom he had concentrated on a discussion of American foreign policy. Speaking for nearly an hour, he taught as much as orated, leading his audience through an examination of the machinations of Reagan’s foreign policy. “I suppose I’m a lifetime teacher,” he said the next day as we drove east on Highway 290. “Even in politics I think I’m teaching again. When I look out at an audience, once in a while I’ll see Elinor [his wife] laughing. And usually it’s because I’ve given a history lesson on something instead of giving a political speech. When you’re a teacher as long as I was, it’s just so ingrained in you that you never really change. Everything has a teaching function. “That is what I think I can do better than the other candidates. I watch these audiences day after day, and I see them leaning forward and some of them taking notes and nodding their heads. I know that I’m explaining things that they’ve been hungry to hear explained. I also feel that, better than the other candidates, I’m not letting Reagan define the terms of the debate. Reagan starts from the premise that, as he puts it, we are significantly weaker than the Soviet Union in every significant category of military power. From that premise, notwithstanding the budget deficit and everything else, we have to increase military spending at an annual rate of 10% a year above the inflation rate. If inflation goes to 10%, you increase the military budget 20%. “The Democrats, people like Glenn, Mondale, and the others, say, ‘That’s right the Russians are ahead of us. We’re weak; we’ve let our defenses down. We have to catch up, but 10% is a little too big. Let’s make it 5% or 7%.’ My view is that there is so much obscene waste and fat and just sheer scandalous throwing away of money in the way we procure weapons systems these incredible cost overruns and sweetheart contracts between the senior military officers and defense suppliers, that you could safely cut 25%. No increase at all; a 25% cut in military spending without weakening the nation one iota. “You put somebody like Lee Iacocca in as Secretary of Defense and say, ‘I want you to do here what you did for Chrysler: get rid of the fat, get rid of the dunderheads, get rid of the featherbedding, all the sweetheart deals, and just buy good products. When you have to do this on 25% less than Reagan is requesting, I think that it will just change the whole budget equation. The deficit would decrease. You’d begin to have money for other things. That’s just one example of where Reagan’s been permitted to define the ground rules of the debate. If you accept his premise that we’re weak and the Russians are strong, then he’s won the debate. If we said 10%, he’d say 15%. There’s no way you can spend as much money as Weinberger and Reagan want to spend. And the Democrats have got to change the ground rules. If I were debating Reagan, I would say, ‘You don’t know what you’re talking about to say the Russians are stronger than we are.’ There isn’t one category of military power that I would trade with them. Both sides have more than they need, so why continue to pile up all these redundant systems? “It’s a paranoid response to our anxiety about the Russians. And they’re just as bad as we are. They’re just as paranoid. They do crazy things, too, in terms of the amount of money they’re spending on the military. I think there’s more excuse in their case because they’re more surrounded than we are and they’ve also been almost destroyed twice in the 20th century, whereas nobody’s fired a gun in anger within the borders of the United States since the Civil War. “I’m not recommending closing Kelly Field [for example]. It’s a vital part of our air defense system. What I am saying is that I wouldn’t put a B-1 bomber in Kelly Field. I’d make them get by on the planes they’ve got now. Some of the new aircraft is so overly sophisticated that it’s doubtful they’ll hold up under combat conditions. San Antonio would be much better off with the same amount of money spent on other things: upgrading the roads, the housing, the waterways, the railways. You get the least production out of those military dollars.” Having said this, George McGovern rested. In fact, he fell asleep for a five-second interval. This is how he rests, he explained, during arduous campaigns. Since the loss of his senatorial seat in 1980, a good portion of his time has been spent on the road, teaching and lecturing on over 150 campuses, in Europe, Japan, and the Middle East, in all 50 states. This campaign has been a natural extension of that experience. McGovern travels alone with a typed itinerary provided by his Washington, D.C., office, run by two of his children, several aides, and many volunteers. Secret Service protection will come later in late winter or early spring. Elinor, too, he thinks, will begin campaigning in the spring. She had not initially supported his decision to enter the 1984 race. The grueling ordeal of the 1972 national campaign was still with her. “She’s kind of warming up now, though,” he says, almost apologetically. “She likes what I say. She gets excited when the crowd starts applauding. She sees something like last night in Austin and she says, ‘That’s really good, George. I’m really proud of you.’ Pretty soon she’ll say, ‘Is there anything I can do?’ Don’t be surprised if you see her floating around Atlanta, Dallas, and points west in the next few months.” 1 N WHICH George McGovern assays the field before him and his possible course therein. As we crossed a bridge over a creek, McGovern pondered the question raised as to whether he had been made a scapegoat by the conservative elements of the Democratic party in order to enable them to regain control of the party machinery after the imposition of the campaign reforms he had championed. “Yes, there is some of that,” he answered. “It’s a stupid reaction because every poll after the election showed that if people could vote over I’d have won hands down. They don’t seem to take that into consideration the fact that I ran against a bunch of crooked thugs. That’s known by most of America. It’s only the press corps and some of the professional pols talking about the humiliating McGovern defeat. As I said last night, all the humiliation’s on the side of the winners. Members of that team served 180 years [combined] in prison. When I went to the airport in Washington, I didn’t have to check with my probation officer.” “But I do think there are some of the old manipulative type Democrats, who would like to see me out of the race. I think they tried to write the rules that way. They didn’t want somebody like me coming out of the pack. So they put ten of the primaries in the same week, half of which are in the South. Boy, that’s going to be tough to handle if you don’t have a lot of money. Obviously you can’t be in ten THE TEXAS OBSERVER 3