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TEXAS @ The Texas Observer Publishing Co., 1987 Vol. 79, No. 6 March 20, 1987 Copyright 1987 by Texas Observer Publishing Company; All rights reserved. Material may not be reproduced without permission. PUBLISHER Ronnie Dugger EDITOR Dave Denison EDITORIAL ASSISTANT Kathleen Fitzgerald LAYOUT AND DESIGN: Valerie Fowler CALENDAR: Kathleen Fitzgerald EDITORIAL INTERN: Joan Fereday WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Richard Ryan POLITICAL INTELLIGENCE: Dana Loy EDITORIAL ADVISORY BOARD: Frances Barton, Austin; Elroy Bode, Kerrville; Chandler Davidson, Houston; Bob Eckhardt, Washington, D.C.; Sissy Farenthold, Houston; Ruperto Garcia, Austin; John Kenneth Galbraith, Cambridge, Mass.; Lawrence Goodwyn, Durham, N.C.; George Hendrick, Urbana, Ill.; Molly Ivins, Dallas; Larry L. King, Washington, D.C.; Maury Maverick, Jr.. San Antonio; Willie Morris, Oxford, Miss.; Kaye Northcott, Austin; James Schwartz, Galveston; Fred Schmidt, Fredericksburg, Robert Sherrill, Tallahassee, Fla. CONTRIBUTING WRITERS: Bill Adler, Warren Burnett, Jo Clifton, Craig Clifford, Louis Dubose, John Henry Faulk, Terry FitzPatrick, Bill Helmer, James Harrington, Jack Hopper, Amy Johnson, Michael King, Dana Loy, Rick Piltz, Gary Pomerantz, Susan Raleigh, John Schwartz, Michael Ventura, Lawrence Walsh. CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS: Alan Pogue, Alicia Daniel. CONTRIBUTING ARTISTS: Mark Antonuccio, Eric Avery, Tom Ballenger, Jeff Danziger, Beth Epstein, Dan Hubig, Pat Johnson, Kevin Kreneck, Carlos Lowry, Miles Mathis, Joe McDermott, Ben Sargent, Dan Thibodeau. A journal of free voices We will serve no group or party but will hew hard to the truth as we find it and the right as we see it. We are dedicated to the whole truth, to human values above all interests, to the rights of humankind as the foundation of democracy; we will take orders from none but our own conscience, and never will we overlook or misrepresent the truth to serve the interests of the powerfill or cater to the ignoble in the human spirit. Writers are responsible for their own work, but not for anything they have not themselves written, and in publishing them we do not necessarily imply that we agree with them because this is a journal of free voices. Managing Publisher Cliff Olofson Subscription Manager Stefan Wanstrom Office Manager Joe Espinosa Jr. Publishing Consultant Frances Barton Development Consultant Hanno T. Beck The Texas Observer paid at Austin. Texas. Subscription rates, including 5 1/8% sales tax: one year $23, two years $42. three years $59. One year rate for full-time students, $15. Back issues $2 prepaid. Airmail, foreign, group. and bulk rates on request. Microfilm editions available from University Microfilms Intl.. 300 N. Zeeb Road, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48106. Copyright 1987 by Texas Observer Publishing Company. All rights reserved. Material may not be reproduced without permission. POSTMASTER: Send form 3579 to: 600 West 28th Street, #105. Austin, Texas 78705. EDITORIAL Political Football IT WAS JUST WHEN state Republicans had begun to snort and whinny about the unfavorable play Gov. Clements’s budget was getting in the press that the Ponygate scandal broke. Clements and his budget director had been planning to visit newspaper editorial boards around the state to promote his retrogressive agenda. \(Complained the director of the state Republican party, “What we’re hearing in the media is one voice, and it’s saying ‘tax, tax, tax.’ ” Houston Republican Rep. Mike Toomey said “I think the governor has gotten a raw deal on his budget proposal,” and charged that Capitol himself in an editorial meeting with the Dallas Morning News, which had gotten wind of a story that Clements had known about improper payments to football players at Southern Methodist University while he was on the governing board of SMU. If he thought he was in trouble on the budget, it was nothing compared to the thunder of the press cavalry when the football scandal broke. The Morning News, which was the only major newspaper in the state to endorse Clements, can not be accused of rushing into print with the damaging information. Editors met with the governor on Monday, March 2, to discuss the matter. It’s hard to say when they expected to get around to reporting the story because on Tuesday, at his weekly news conference, the governor made his famous admission about “phasing out” cash payments to avaricious members of the Mustang squad. come prepared to pop the big question. Knowing the story was bound to break, Clements let the entire press corps hear it straight from the horse’s mouth. They picked up the ball, of course, and ran with it. Unlike the unnameable scandal that bedevils Republicans in Washington, this one immediately found a catchy label. Ponygate is not likely to take its place beside Sharpstown in the history books, but it certainly rolls nicely off the tongue. \(Semanticists would probably note how nicely the -gate suffix works for Others have tried “Prevarigate,” but that’s more in the spirit of making a wicked political joke than creating an enduring brand name. Partisans have found a sort of rueful humor in Ponygate. Former Congresswoman Barbara Jordan was speaking at a dinner in her honor a couple of weeks ago in Austin. Among the distinguished guests was Mark White, now a lawyer in Houston. “I believe in running for public officeand getting elected,” she said, turning her gaze to the former governor. “I’m delighted to see you Mark,” she said dryly. “I don’t know why your staff couldn’t find out about SMU.” The audience erupted and White let out a horselaugh and slapped his knee. White had fun that week skewering Clements for his “no pay, no play” program and speculating on how the election might have been different if the voters had known Clements had condoned payola to student athletes. Between the jokes and gags, many Democrats must have been left 2 MARCH 20. 1987