OBSERVATIONS Who Will Stand Against Country-Club Democrats? New York City ITEM, as it happens from the Los Angeles Herald-Examiner for ‘June 24, 1989: “Sen. Lloyd Bentsen has rejoined three clubs he quit last summer, after being picked as the Democratic vice-presidential nominee, his spokesman said yesterday, contending that the clubs have no membership restrictions. “Bentsen has rejoined River Oaks Country Club, the Middleburg Tennis Club in Middleburg, Va., and the Ramada Club of Houston, spokesman Jack DeVore said. The Houston Post said officials at two of the three say that their groups have no black members.” Well, what the hell, it didn’t win the election to quit them last summer. So, what do you want, Jesse Jackson in golfing togs? Bentsen can quit’em again when he runs for President in 1992. A MINIMUM GOAL , Maury Maverick,: the coluinnist every Sunday in the San Antonio ExpressWew.S i :: speculated, in response to my item here last spring informing Texans of Btiit$en’S decision to run for President agairi: that ‘J ..’ seemed to be implyingthat Jim Mattox, Ann, Richards, Garry Mauro, even IOn 1.407 tower might support Bentsen .for President I have told Maury I was not doing that. The question is too basic, and too serious in its implications, for public conjecture to be quite fair. To find out, when it’s publicly clear that Bentsen is running, will be simply to ask. I also wrote Maury last month from Blue. Mountain Center, a writer’s colony on a lake in the Adirondacks Wilderness, where I was holed up working: “By a progressive revolt against Bentsen, I don’t mean, necessarily, denying Bentsen a majority of the Texas delegation; I mean, minimally holding at least a third of the delegation for progressive presidential candidates or uncommitted. There ought to be that much real independence, individual : ism, and progressivism in the Thxas Democratic Party. If it means anything to be a Texan, and it does, it means not going along with the herd, so the question. and we’ve got three years to face it is, are we really Texans, or are we just Texas cattle? “The way the dailies will bundle up the issue is, ‘Will Texas go for Bentsen?.’ That. is, will ‘Texas’ go for Bentsen, as if Texans are a horde of go-along yes-Democrats. But the real issue, is, Who does each Texan actually. prefer from among the candidates who will be seeking the nomination for President in 1992, and will each one of these Texans behave as an individualist true to his or her actual philosophy and political convictions, or as a Texas-bred conformist to the favorite-son myth? “the daily newspaper publishers:will also present the issue,’ and ,sorne of them may try to get reporters to present the issue, as whether to ‘be anti-Bentsen. But, while of course some people will be anti-Bentsen, making the question either you’re for Bentsen or anti-Bentsen assumes implicitly that every Texan should p along with what the corporations and the newspaper publishers tell us we should do it assumes the right answer is a given. When one is for, say; Simon, or Jackson, or Schroeder, or Cuomo ., or. Bradley, or Bumpers, or is still imdecided about it, that:does not mean one is anti-BentSen, it just Means : one has not Chosen him as one’s candidate for President. Choosing someone for that is the very highest compliment a ‘citizen : can pay a , public person. It is not .anti-; it is not an insult not to pay someone the greatest t:,rnpliment a citizen can .bestow. It just means what it means = I am for this other person; or I have not decided yet.:” . ASSASSINS AT WORK By the way, we should not let it pass when we see character assassins at work in public print, and Maury Maverick has come in for a number of such attacks in the letters-tothe-editor columns of the Express-News. He is certainly the most provocative columnist writing in the Texas press; he may be especially attracted to intensely controversial subjects precisely because public discussidn of them is so suppressed. But this does not quite explain the virulence of these recurring , attacks on him. At one point I felt, moved to write a letter defending him from the accusation of the head of a Jewish veterans’ organization from up north somewhere, who had ignorantly called him antiSemitic, using the term like a club. Now, in the Express-News of July 9, there is a letter from a San Antonian calling Maverick “anti-Catholic, anti-Semitic and pro-communist.” Well, of course, if you can’t stand the heat, get out of the ldtchen, but this is no kitchen, this is Joe McCarthy’s butcher-block. I wonder why such a false and assassinative accusation would be printed, but I wonder even more where are the legions of the defenders of decency in public discourse? WHO DEFAULTED? Kenneth A. Davis, a 33-year-old computer operator at Exxon’s headquarters in Houston, was one of four such operators who were charged to write over month-old Exxon computer tapes with new material, thereby destroying the information on the back-up tapes. After the Exxon Valdez disaster in Prince William Sound on March 24, Exxon was required by a federal court order to preserve the computer records that showed Exxon communications traffic about the disaster. Exxon, which disgraced itself before the world by its slow, bored cleanup operation, faces hundreds of lawsuits because of the spill. Kenneth Davis told the New York Times that on the summer nights from June 5 to June 8, he destroyed, by writing over, computer back-up copies of thousands of documents, including Exxon communications regarding the spill. “The tapes recorded internal communications and documents produced over a period of about a week at the end of April,” according to the Times. “Exxon contends that other copies of all relevant documents have been retained.” Davis also told the Times that a series of memoranda informed him of his duties on the night of June 5, but none told him he would be handling material concerning the disaster, which therefore would have had to be retained. The exact question is: if Davis’s superior or superiors failed to tell him to preserve Exxon-Valdez documents, who was that superior, or who were those superiors, and what is the explanation of that failure? We might, of course, accept Exxon’s assurances, but why should we? CARRIED AWAY I came upon a fascinating line of argument in, as it happened, the Hartford Courant, in its reprinting of an article by Rena Pederson, the editorial page editor of the Dallas Morning News. “Texans do not have a monopoly on greed and sleaze,” the headline in Connecticut said. Surely, that’s so, and Pederson’s assault on Texas-bashing is a choice bit of work. But those whose 4 AUGUST 4, 1989
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