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ALAN POGUE OBSERVATIONS The Hugh Parmer Candidacy TEXAS PROGRESSIVES should think about, and reject, the defeatism which has overwhelmingly charac terized their attitude toward Hugh Parmer’s race against Phil Gramm. Parmer is a tad stiff, personally. He is forceful, but not a charismatic, speaker. He smiles too often as he begins a speech, and sometimes the smile is forced. But you know what? The Senator from Fort Worth is a good man, had the guts to run against Gramm, and deserves to be elected to the United States Senate. Parmer is running against the Senator who in America represents the greatest threat to decent human values. The defeatism about Parmer’s chances is realistic, but deadly, and furthermore, foolish six full months before the election. Anything can happen. A majority of the people might be persuaded in time that Gramm, on the record, is an extremely arrogant extreme right-winger who has contempt for compassion. Ann Richards’s campaign might catch on, and with her, Hugh Parmer’s. Gramm’s record in committees and on the floors of Congress is there for all to see, but what has he been doing with his official power behind the scenes? What, for example, has been his role, as a senator, in the savings-and-loan scandal concerning specific Texas institutions? The conventional wisdom that Hugh Parmer doesn’t have a prayer is actually arrogance or cynicism disguised as realism. No one knows six months ahead that Parmer can’t win. “Let’s help him.” That’s what I wrote into my notebook after listening to, and taperecording, Parmer’s speech on May 2 to the Travis County Democratic Women. About 40 or so of them, and three or four men who are also members, brought in their dinners from the cafeteria line and sat along both sides of two tables along the sides of a meeting room at Wyatt’s, the one at Hancock Center in north Austin. With his good wife, Parmer came in a minute late, from the Capitol, impeccably attired in a fresh white shirt and a blue suit. He spoke about half an hour without notes and took questions easily. Perhaps, hearing out the excerpts from the speech which I have just typed off here at my desk beside my office door open onto Seventh Street in downtown Austin, you will be convinced too: “When we deal with Phil Gramm,” Hugh Parmer said, “we are not dealing with your Hugh Parmer normal, garden-variety, country-club Republican. This man votes in tiny minorities with the most extreme right-wing members of the United States Congress. I can give you a couple of examples that to me are really appalling. “We have a Senator who is one out of six, out of 100 members of the Senate, to vote against the Hunger Relief Act of 1985. 6 MAY 18, 1990