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were taking a piece out of me and a piece out of my propensity to be progressive and aggressive on issues. I felt like, little by little, the process was eating away at me. One day it was insurance money, the next day it was dairy money.” Former Republican Senator Charles Mathias of Maryland: “I did one of those TV debates for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. I was shocked because one of the Chamber’s people . . . said, ‘You can’t do away with campaign contributions because no public official would do anything for you. How would you ever get anything done?’ In some circles that is really the naked truth that is, this is an outright lever that you can buy to get government action.” Former Senator Thomas Eagleton, Democrat of Missouri: “Every PAC has its special interest or special interest. . . . If I take X thousands of dollars from a tobacco or a trucking PAC, I know what it is those fellows are interested in, because I’ve been around ’em. So the minute you accept their money, you are tacitly acknowledging that you are part of their philosophical orientation.” Rep. Jim Leach, the Iowa Republican who is close to George Bush: “I argue that what you have in a campaign contribution is an implicit contract with the person that gave. If you listen carefully to that group’s concerns, and abide by them, there is an implicit promise of another contribution for the next election. . . . What you’ve done is turn upside-down the American premise of government, which is the idea that people are elected to represent people.” Former Rep. Bob Edgar, who ran unsuccessfully for the Senate from Pennsylvania in 1986: “A hundred days before [the election], I realized that I had to raise $2.5 million. That’s $25,000 a day, every day, from that hundredth day down to zero. . . . I started to go to fundraising events three, four, five a day. That whole fundraising fever has a dramatic impact on a campaign that wants to talk peace-andjustice issues, women’s rights, senior citizen rights, environmental issues. It really gets you warped at the way in which you make those choices.” Former Senator Lawton Chiles, a Democrat in Florida: “A lot of people seem to think that somebody gives you a PAC contribution, then they come in and say, `I expect you to vote for this.’ It never happens that way. . . . The hook is already in you, and if you’ve taken it, you know it, and you know you know it.” Jackson and Stern propose a number of reforms, some of them obvious or standard, some of them quite innovative \(and a couple of Jackson’s, in my view, benighted or the campaign-finance system would be easy to reform, and permanently, with new laws. For example, ‘ we could have public funding of Congressional campaigns. Per Rep. Jim Leach, the Iowa Republican, we could prohibit all contributions from groups. Per liberal Democrat Bob Edgar, we could open up the radio and’ television airwaves, which are public property, to the bona fide candidates \(on a fair and equal basis and The real problem is not theoretical, but the practical fact that the now pervasive corruption is self-perpetuating: new laws to stop the corruption have to be passed by the same members of Congress who benefit personally from it. American democracy has slipped to the bottom of a foul and slimy well, and it’s going to take some kind of a political miracle to haul it back up. For a start, using the books in hand as examples, we should call corruption corruption not “honest graft,” but “the best Congress money can buy.” The Orwell Tradition BY TOM McCLELLAN PREPARED FOR THE WORST By Christopher Hitchens New York: Hill & Wang, 1988 357 pages, $19.95 IN HIS INTRODUCTION to Prepared for the Worst Christopher Hitchens says he hasn’t attained Nadine Gordimer’s ideal of writing posthumously egolessly, that is, with the detachment of one already dead; not speaking to future readers “from beyond the grave \(a common author’s distinction, I’d like to dwell on the fantasy. Common it is any morsel in the literary stewpot will attest to. that and it suggests a criterion. For 20 dollars I can buy admission to a theater performance that will, good or bad, grace my memory for a lifetime. Hitchens wants me to put the 20 on Hill and Wang out of Farrar Straus and Giroux for a collection of ’80s essays; journalistic essays, which by nature tend to read like yesterday’s sounding of the Heraclitean river. Is this a book I might exhume from the pile five years from now, or wish I had time to? Tom McClellan is a writer and teacher living in Dallas. Hitchens gives the some reasons to believe I might. First, artisanship; one example from “Nicaragua Libre” \(Granta, Nicaragua is a caesura between the Atlantic and the Pacific; built on an earthquake fault and precarious to a degree. The caesura spoken of is provided by the renders the reader shaky as to whether “degree” belongs to geography or another idiomatic phrase, and hence a different intonation if by then he’s absorbed the metaphor’s landmass = gap equation: .Precarious, yes, as is a poet’s highwire act. Pages later, then, confronted with the deadpan delivery of a Reaganvolk notion ” ‘Reality time’ is the White House term for the seven-o’clock news” the reader must laugh or gasp or else, such is the force of the prose. But style is not all the man. One of the author’s stated values is prescience; he admires this in Orwell and hopes to be credited for “a dash” of such himself “\(understatement courtesy of Hitchens’s alma that most fleeting of shadow plays, the D.C. political scene, yields at least one prophecy confirmed: Near the close of “Against the “The Reagan Administration will obviously carry on arming and paying the Nicaraguan Contras whatever Congress decides.” Twenty-five or so essays later comes the “Reality Time” of November 1986. And amid those 25 is a discussion of public Rambochismo vs. personal reality, entitled “Chicken Hawks.” Had you wondered who coined the term? Another reason not to toss Prepared for the Worst into the bag for Used Books: the opportunity for mental quibbles and downright arguments with the author, a selfcharacterized Labor Party Liberal evolved to “radically freelance scribbler” for “secularism, libertarianism, internationalism, and solidarity” in their Marxist senses; a humanist by virtue of “what is still called \(because it applies to `conventional’ education”; a radical of immovable Principles, in other words. NE QUIBBLE: The piece on Nicaragua quoted earlier shows one of the writer’s Principles, fairness, at its best. It also displays his knowledge of the country’s literary history: Because “Nicaragua is a country where writers have always been impelled into THE TEXAS OBSERVER 9