Page 21


impact of the rule on students in other activities and on schools themselves. Jimmy R. Walker El Paso A teacher fails the star athlete and the school loses the football game. Who is going to be blamed for the fact that the student didn’t play and the team lost the game? And is it going to be easier or harder for that teacher to “maintain his standards” the next time the question comes up? In the matter of fairness, from the perspective of the good student \(which doubtless Dugger, Perot and White all for some students to benefit from easier grading practices, easier courses, etc. But in most Texas schools, unlike those in Lake Wobegon, fully half the student body is below average. For many a weak student, just having to come to school seems unfair. And for a slow academic student to be prevented from doing the one thing he does well \(playing football, practice but because he failed math or English now that is unfair. And there are some, not a party to that dispute, who would agree. Walter J. Ligon Freeport, N. Y. Valley. Magic I must congratulate author Javier Rodriquez on the touching article “The Subtleties of Memory,” concerning his childhood in Donna, Texas. This Third World poverty pocket, the Rio Grande Valley of Texas, worked its magic on me during my childhood some years earlier in Edinburg, Texas. Reporter Rodriquez has a sure pen and I hope, a bright future ahead. Strange Bedfellows Ronnie Dugger, Ross Perot and Mark naively expect the influence of organized football in American life to be reduced by the no-pass, noplay law. More specifically, Dugger seems to believe it will help to maintain academic standards unfairness of their unequal application. In politics Dugger may qualify as a liberal, but in education he reveals himself to be as conservative as they come. Let’s take a closer look at those two points. Every teacher’s standards for grading differ to some degree. But assume that maintaining academic standards to Dugger, Perot and White \(there’s that unholy your rules, no matter what -they are, for any student regardless of circumstances. Emmit R. Tuggle San Antonio Correction: There was a misprint in the closing sentence of “Observations” in the December 20 issue. It should have read: “On this issue [no pass, no play], the Governor deserves more than equivocal or offhand support. . . .” Washington, D. C. THE UNTOLD STORY of December’s congressional debate on fiscal policy is the role played by liberal Democrats in helping to thwart the most progressive tax legislation in a decade and their fawning participation in deficit-busting. Thus it was that, in the first debate, black Democratic congressmen such as John Conyers of Detroit, Ron Dellums of Oakland, Gus . Hawkins of Los Angeles, and Parren Mitchell of Baltimore lined up against a tax bill that would have exempted up to 70 percent of their poor constituents from paying any federal tax whatever. Joining these black liberals were the most outspoken progressive feminists in Congress Pat Schroeder of Denver, Barbara Mikulslci of Baltimore, Marcie Kaptur of Toledo, Claudine Schneider of Narragansett, Rhode Island arguing against legislation that would have dramatically aided James Ridgeway’s column is a regular feature of the Observer. working women and their children across the country. \(The entire New York Democratic delegation voted for It is true that Reagan worked feverishly to quell the Republican backbench revolt and bring 50 House Republicans into line in order to pass the tax measure. But in the December 11 crucial debate over the rule, that is the terms under which the tax bill is finally debated by the full House, it was the liberal Democrats, , answering the special interest lobby of a public employees union, who pulled the rug from under the legislation. The scenario in the House comes straight from an early Reagan campaign speech on liberal perfidy. While some liberal Democrats turned on their historic lower-middle-class constituency in the tax bill, others enthusiastically joined conservative Republicans in supporting the GrammRudman deficit control measure. This confusing act will almost certainly undercut that same constituency. The only hope is that Gramm-Rudman will turn out to be unworkable, or that the courts will throw it out as unconstitutional. Senator Teddy Kennedy led the liberals arguing that the bill was “the only way to protect important Democratic programs that I care deeply about.” Kennedy was followed in spaniel-like procession by his fellow Massachusetts senator John Kerry, Albert Gore of Tennessee, Chris Dodd of Connecticut, and Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia. Gary Hart voted against Gramm-Rudman. These moments of congressional debate last month were richly symbolic of a moribund Democratic Party and a death rattle by its liberal wing. The debate over fiscal policy is part of a massive reorientation of American politics away from the New Deal coalition. And rather than defend the New Deal, the very Democratic politicians whose existence depends on that coalition are the ones hammering the nails into its coffin. A Liberal Dose of Perfidy By James Ridgeway 6 JANUARY 24, 1986