to resent being thought of as the pigeons in a half-million-buck scam operation. No doubt the amateur cynics and jargoncoiners featured by this workshop thought themselves political realists, when in fact they bore about the same relation to Machiavelli as does a Girl Scout to an experienced whore. To note that conscience can be a hindrance should one murder an opponent or have him murdered: both options are weighted with consideration of whether guilt might trip one up later that is realism. To pretend one has no conscience, or can “factor” it out that is folly. WHEN WHITMAN tired of the learned astronomer, he found a night full of stars to ponder. Sore-footed and sore-headed in the chill of a D.C. noon, I left the halls of pros and came eventually to the marble columns of the Supreme Court building: tons of evidence that someone once believed the law beautiful and enduring, the Athenian roots of democracy worthy of an architectural allusion. And the policeman on watch the night before said the builders had managed to finish below estimate and return the surplus funds. Back then, you know, when honor had a few advocates. Matthew Arnold identified two major tributaries to Western culture: one represented by the Parthenon-like structure I was viewing; the other, by a red brick building a few blocks away, where the visitor might dip in blest water to purify himself and ponder Thomas More as statued Sir and Saint. His official prayer, framed nearby, petitions the Almighty for a sense of humor, among other virtues. Let the reader recall the political leader he most admires and most respects, whose biography or handshake has most moved him . . . then imagine the same personage responding to a “pro-active” theorist’s request to fit the mold implied by surveys of “the targeted population,” to tell voters what they think they want to hear, and to define such behavior as leadership. “Mr. Lincoln, our make-up person wants a more Jeffersonian expression if you can manage, thanks, and the sound studio reminds us that the high pitch of your voice can be augmented for the ads, but you’ll need to aim lower during debates and such chin down, breathe deep, ‘kay? The latest polls show a five to seven percent increase in polarization on the slavery thing, so maybe we need to shift focus, y’know Indian threat or something? Almost forgot, the psycho-sociometrics are in. Current indications are the voter’s looking for a sense of humor among other virtues, right?” The popular contrast between toughminded realist and fuzzy-minded idealist carries little weight if one considers history. Truths held to be self-evident find a priori ideas their natural bedfellows. Those who have shaped the political present of our nation and of the culture in which it is imbedded have believed in values which transcend the material culture and the ephemeral moment; though the best of them have given to integrity a form, and to honor a name. Whoever ignores this is in no sense a realist. Whoever attempts to incorporate it as a “campaign image factor” is a fool. I would offer an old term for the political theorists’ consideration, old at least as Aristotle: ethos. As a term of rhetoric it refers to the character of the speaker, what lies behind the mask of “image.” For instance, to come through eight years’ observation of presidential speech and act with the unshakeable conviction that the man is far less bright than charming is to perceive ethos. One last instance: the American ethos allows us honest admiration of a successful mountebank or flimflam man, even as we look for the tree that will carry his weight at the end of a rope. Award Winner from Texas Anglos and Mexicans in the Making of Texas, 1836-1986 By David Montejano 1988 Frederick Jackson Turner Award from the Organization of American Historians Texas Institute of Letters Friends of the Dallas Public Library Award for 1987 Texas Historical Commission T. R. Fehrenbach Award Best Ethnic, Minority, and Women’s History Publication for 1987 A reconstructionist history of Mexican-Anglo relations in Texas. Montejano addresses major questions about ethnicity, social change, and the nature of society itself. This fascinating study will alter the way we view the history of the Lone Star state. Write for a complete list of UT Press books t v % University of Texas Press THE TEXAS OBSERVER 23
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