Page 19


with his reminiscences of his trek to West Texas in the 1940s to become a Midland millionaire. “Good to be home in Texas again,” he began his keynote address. He told how he and his wife had packed everything into “a red Studebaker and headed west. I got a job in Odessa, then in Midland,” and here he paused to add, “right here in this state,” for those who might have missed the Texas angle. “And you know, I’ve voted here in Texas in every Congressional and national election since 1948.” The crowd applauded, and he added that when America reaches the year 2000 he would still be voting here. Yet, who can doubt that what Bush is revealing here is that he has made a political calculation that it is more important for him to vote in Texas than in, say, Connecticut, if he ever wants to become President? Bush, unlike the President, is not able to deflect attention from his own disingenuousness and give the feeling that he really cares about the issues. Instead, he is reading applause lines and without the skilled actor’s training. “We aren’t ashamed to say we believe in patriotism,” he said, wagging his head and sounding cornball. “And thank God I serve with a President who doesn’t go around apologizing for the United States of America!” He went on to define the Republican vision, which includes the belief “that our streets should be safe, that crime should not be tolerated.” And most importantly, he said, heating up now, “in these days when we hear of one tragedy after another, we believe that we must stop the flow of narcotics into this country!” For this he got a strong ovation. But there was more. He invoked the “spirit of Texas” in urging a rebound from the oil recession. “We must repeal now and this is the time to do it the windfall profits tax! We must right now deregulate natural gas! We did it with oil, we can do it with gas!” he said, as the crowd cheered. For some reason, he made his lines about oil and gas sound as if they were supposed to be the climax of the speech. But compare Bush’s somewhat squirrelly performance with that of Jack Kemp. Kemp speaks rapidly, aggressively, and with real content to his remarks. Except for the standard reminder of his past as a pro football player, he puts the emphasis of his presentation on his ideas, and, like Reagan, he is able to cast his politics in the most appealing American terms. For Kemp, it is an article of faith that capitalism will improve living standards for all segments of society that Republicans favor an “opportunity society.” “We’ve got to have a party that goes into the barrio, goes into the ghetto, goes into the campuses, goes into the labor union halls, goes into every single segment of American society,” he declares. “We can’t leave anybody behind,” he says. “Ladies and gentlemen, welfare should not be measured by how many people need food stamps; it should be measured by how few people need food stamps.” Ladies and gentlemen, if I were a Republican I would put my money on Jack Kemp. Here is a man with something on his mind. Few people will stop to ask him along the campaign trail whether capitalism indeed works the way he says it does. He is peddling a fake populism, but fake populism is much easier to sell in this country you can continue to get the backing of big business, for one thing. Kemp speaks of programs and specifics, but in the context of the larger American myths. George Bush uses a phony spiel about “values” as a substitute for political ideas. \(Here is what he had to say on the worst farm crisis in America since the Great Depression: “We are also working to help our farmers through this crisis, to ease the transition to a more competitive future. But the key for Texas and for Americans is to stick to those values that have gotten us, this far: respect for family, faith in God, buh-lief in ourselves, and commitment commitment to freedom and the Republican ideal is more than easy talk about family values and stopping the narcotics traffic and deregulating natural gas. But I’m not a Republican, so bring on George Bush! He promises to be the Walter Mondale of the GOP. He may be just the man to deliver the party into the disarray and dissension that could save us all. He calls his political organization the Fund for America’s Future. Give generously. POLITICAL INTELLIGENCE V Nothing like a little racism to kick off the campaign season. Before the Democratic state convention began, Texas Democratic Chairman Bob Slagle told the Houston Chronicle that Governor Mark White’s calling a special session doesn’t bother him. Slagle said the average Texan understands that Texas is paying for what OPEC has done. “And I don’t think the average Texan thinks Mark White’s an Arab,” Slagle added. “I think they think he’s a Baptist.” Embarrassing V A recent report published by the Dallas Times-Herald showed that at least 654 workers have been killed on Texas construction sites during the 1980s. The total is 200 more than in any other state, and six times higher than the national average. The report said that contractors paid an average fine of $350 per worker killed in cases where OSHA found violations of federal safety regulations a contributing factor to the death. Fewer than half the contractors in Texas follow federal safety regulations, and three of every four worker deaths were related to such violations. The report said that Texas has the poorest construction safety record in the country, that current safety and enforcement and onthe-job training are not addressing the problem, and that OSHA has not stringently enforced safety regulations in Texas as required by law. Bobby Barnes, a member of the state Industrial Accident Board, said the death toll is “embarrassingly high. There’s been nothing done in Texas to correct the problem,” Barnes said. “So I don’t see any reason for the problem to get better.” V A Texas lawyer accused of trying to undermine enforcement of OSHA regulations was denied a chance to hold a seat on the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission when a U.S. Senate committee recently killed his nomination. When Congress was not in session last fall, Reagan appointed Robert E. Rader, Jr., of Ennis, to the three-member panel that rules on corporate appeals of OSHA charges of job safety violations. Such recess appointees are subject to Senate confirmation; the Senate Labor and Human Resources Committee in June stopped the nomination with two successive 8-8 tie votes. Sen. Edward Kennedy called Rader a “fox-in-the-chicken-coop nominee,” while other senators revealed that Rader is a supporter of a “stop OSHA” movement, advises corporate clients to resist OSHA inspections, and once was fined $3,000 by a federal judge for making misrepresentations in a civil rights case. V The Fellowship of Excitement Church in Houston, also known as THE TEXAS OBSERVER 7