The Caucus, one of the few effective extraparliamentary bodies in the House, will meet at Lakeway in Austin in late May, perhaps more polarized than ever by recent electoral politics. In Houston, Rep. Roman Martinez directed the campaign of a grudge candidate running against Luna and in the Valley, Eddie Lucio defended the right of Attorney General Jim Mattox and Comptroller Bob Bullock to campaign against Caucus incumbent Renato Cuellar, with whom Lucio shares a basement office suite in the Capitol. Hinojosa had protested that Mattox and Bullock shouldn’t be -campaigning against a Democratic incumbent. V IF THERE WAS EVER any doubt about Houston exterminator and Republican Congressman Tom DeLay’s position on organized labor, it should have been resolved by his line on the recently passed trade bill. Discussing the possibility of swapping a vote for the repeal of the windfall profits tax for the trade package DeLay said, “I want repeal but I’m not going to sell it down the river for organized labor.” V FORMER PRESIDENT Gerald Ford did not demand $10,000 to campaign in Texas on behalf of Wharton Congressman Mac Sweeney, says the Congressman. A staffer in the Congressman’s campaign office had originally said Ford asked for the fee, but the later version said the money was sent unsolicited and was not a payment for Ford. Some consider Sweeney’s seat vulnerable and claim that Democrat Greg Laughlin has a fair chance of upsetting the third-term incumbent. Some suspect that Sweeney, known for playing it a little loose with the facts and for his clumsy use of his Congressional frank, might actually bring in Chevy Chase to do his Ford-fallingon-the-tarmac or Ford-hit-by-the-car schtick. The Republican national committee is looking to invest some money in Sweeney’s race; should Sweeney lose there is the threat of even another book on the Reagan administration, where the Congressman worked as director of administration operations. Laughlin took 48 percent last time. He could pick up a few points on his second attempt. V UPDATE on former Gov. Mark White: his political career is still in cold storage. El Paso Times columnist Gary Scharrer checked in with White and reported in April that the ex-Gov. still entertains notions of running for governor again. “I have people encouraging me to run again, and I’m considering it seriously,” White said. “But I won’t make any commitment until some time next year.” BOOKS & THE CULTURE Breathing Life into the Democratic Party BY DAVE DENISON THE LIFE OF THE PARTY Democratic Prospects in 1988 and Beyond By Robert Kuttner New York: Viking, 1987 265 pages, $18.95 THE END MAY BE at hand for conservative Democrats. All Michael Dukakis has to do to snuff out this miserable tendency within the party is find a conservative perhaps Georgia Senator Sam Nunn or our own Senator Lloyd Bentsen and render him neutral by making him the Vice-Presidential candidate. This was, after all, Ronald Reagan’s ingenious tactic for disposing of moderate Republicanism within his own party: he took George Bush and turned him into a lapdog. Of course it may not be so easy for the Democrats. What has yet to be proven is that a liberal Democrat who is not a member of the Ronald Reagan Taught Me a Lesson Club can chart a reversal in public policy as comprehensive as Reagan’s and get away with it. Even Democrats wonder if a candidate such as Dukakis could govern successfully. Who can shake the fears about a Dukakis administration dissolving among the kind of misfortunes and ineptitude that brought Jimmy Carter down? In fact, George Bush is already trying to hang the Carter millstone around Dukakis’s neck. And Al Gore, in one of his many desperate attempts to draw attention to himself, argued before the Illinois primary that Dukakis was another Walter Mondale. Dukakis, naturally, spurns all comparisons to Carter and Mondale, and instead invokes the more distant recollections of Kennedy and Camelot. But why is the thought of another Carterstyle or Mondale-style candidate so universally unappealing? It is unappealing to politicians, obviously, because Carter and Mondale were losers. And they were losers, it could be argued, because they so capably demonstrated everything the Democratic Party should not be. If the next Democrat to lead the Party is to truly change the course of the country, he must understand first of all the reasons why Democrats have faildd to win and to govern over the last two decades. Secondly, he must know what kind of course should be taken instead. Michael Dukakis may elicit a favorable audience response by invoking John F. Kennedy in the campaign, but if he gets to the White House he will face a different world than Kennedy faced. He will need a new vision for these times. Robert Kuttner, in The Life of the Party, presents a powerful argument that the best hope for the Democrats is to make a dramatic break with Carter-Mondalism and with the many “professionals” who are urging a move to “the center” and an accommodation with the conservative wing of the Party. Kuttner is like a man leading a disoriented band of travelers from a dark forest. His eyes have adjusted much faster than have those of his compatriots. It is as if he is ringing a noisy bell for those who can’t quite see yet. And his bell is warning Democrats: don’t go back; forge ahead and discover something new. Imitation Reaganism has already been tried, in Kuttner’s view. In 1984, he reminds us, Walter Mondale accepted his party’s nomination by saying to Reagan voters: “Look at our platform. There are no defense cuts that weaken our security; no business taxes that weaken our economy; no laundry lists that raid our treasury. We are wiser, stronger, and focused on the future.” In THE TEXAS OBSERVER 15
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The Texas Rangers are tasked with investigating corruption and crimes by public officials. Those officials are rarely held accountable.