Meals on Wheels While Phil Gramm and Supporters Dine at the Dome, Others in Houston Don’t Fare So Well ,1,6*444bo X 0 4. o a fi r. oo eabL i.es boxo4′ t ,:exa.4t.ex94 ,44,4%..a. ,64.44 ox4422.214.171.124.k…40.44 x…4×04.51,64.,A0xvoait ….644,.32..4.4$ 0 2, ,t 11″,ti ,+4,4, x%.0. .7$ SHARON STEWART BY ALLAN FREEDMAN Houston GLADYS HUFF lives in a modest apartment. Her floor is scuffed and worn. Brightly colored plastic flowers rest on a table and a picture of Christ hangs on a wall. On a chilly December morning, Huff sits in a rocking chair and watches “The Young and the Restless” on a color television. She is wearing a dark, stained cardigan sweater. Huff might be considered one of the more fortunate residents of the nation’s fourth largest city. Although she suffers from Alzheimer’s Disease and is unable to get out of her apartment much, she has a roof over her head in this town where 10,000 are homeless. She seems happy and talks glowingly of her children and of playing the stand-up piano that occupies much of The Texas Observer requested an interview with Phil Gramm to discuss the U.S. Senate race and his record. Our request for an interview was denied. The Senator’s comments are welcome in the pages of the Observer. her small living room. She boastfully says she is 91. “I just wish I could get someone to go with me and take a walk around the neighborhood,” she says as she leans on her walker. “I’m not sick.” If she had tracked down someone to drive her, bought an evening dress, and managed to scrape together $1,000 for a ticket, Huff might have enjoyed a recent event in this city of striking poverty and wealth. The Astrodome is just a short ride from Huff’s small apartment. And thousands of devoted Phil Gramm fans managed to fill much of the dome recently at what should be seen as one of the most decadent political fundraisers of the decade. Dressed in a double-breasted suit, good old boy turned national Republican Party Chairman Lee Atwater estimated the evening’s take at $2.4 million. The actual amount raised will not be known until Gramm discloses his latest campaign contributions to the Federal Election Commission on January 31. But if Atwater’s estimate is on target, Phil Gramm has pulled off the most lucrative fundraiser ever for a single candidate, and he has done so in grand style. Charlton Heston, who joined a large cast of celebrities and corporate executives seated at the head table, praised Gramm as a ” point guard for democracy.” President George Bush declared that Phil Gramm “brings courage to Capitol Hill.” When the speech making was over, countless bottles of red and white wine emptied, and numerous pieces of chicken consumed, the evening reached a patriotic crescendo as Lee Greenwood sang “God Bless the U.S.A.” and “I’m Proud to Be an American.” Gramm’s face filled an overhead screen where instant replays are usually featured. American flags were unfurled and flashing lights illuminated two Great Seals of Texas. In all the hoopla, there was little substantive discussion of what the Democrat-turned-Republican junior Senator from Texas had done to deserve all the attention. After all, Gramm has come of age politically at a time when the ability to manipulate symbols is the substance of political power. And judging from the sea of tables that covered more than half the field area at the dome, it was apparent that Gramm is such 22 DECEMBER 29, 1989
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