Page 1


FEATURES No Mercy by Michael King 8 Two court decisions have left intact the clemency procedure of the Board of Pardons and Paroles. But the testimony of the members makes clear their position on clemency: they don’t believe in it. The Pols He Bought by Robert Bryce 11 Candidates Rick Perry and Carole Keeton Rylander were locked in close races until the arrival of James Leininger’s money. We can all expect to pay the bill. The Woman Who Slew Goliath by Ayelet Hines 13 The battle against the Sierra Blanca nuclear waste dump could not have been won without the energetic dedication of one young Austin woman who fell in love with the desert. THIS ISSUE I DEPARTMENTS Dialogue 2 Editorial 3 Election Notes Coming Due by Louis Dubose Left Field 5 Neil Carman, Hutu Power, Bush Beat, Trash Talk, A NeoReaganite & Strange Customs The Bad Bills Girl 16 Political Intelligence 17 Molly Ivins 20 Texas Road-Kill Jim Hightower 21 Peacemaker From the Plains & Vietnam Part Deux Las Americas 22 Stories True and Tragic BOOKS AND THE CULTURE Turns of Perception 24 Poetry by Kathleen Peirce World War, Too 25 Film Review by Don Graham School Daze 28 Film Review by Steven G. Kellman Afterword 30 Chainsaw Memories by Corinna Nicolaou EDITORIAL Where Have You Gone, Adlai Stevenson? You cannot be a Governor if you do not believe in a Supreme Being. George W. Bush I love George Bush. Reverend Jaynes Robison Asked his opinion of the mildly partisan Reverend Norman Vincent Peale, Adlai Stevenson responded that he had “always found Saint Paul appealing and Saint Peale appalling.” It’s difficult to imagine Governor Bush coming up with a line that memorable. It’s also difficult to imagine Reverend Peale taking credit for resurrecting the campaign of any president with whom he had prayed, predicting the election of yet another or for that matter, recounting a dialogue he recently held with God. \(“God said, ‘James, you’re praying with a greater maturity now.’ I said, ‘I don’t understand, Lord.’ He said, ‘You were like so many othtalist argument that we live in End Times. But it’s hard to argue that we do not live in Odd Times. James Robison is a fundamentalist Christian preacher who lives in Arlington. His television routine always includes an attack on Roe. v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision guaranteeing women the right to abortion. Robison claims he is the child of a rapist and that his mother would have sought out an abortion fifty-six years ago, had Roe v. Wade been the law. In the years since that fateful misstep, he has organized an overseas mission system, taken his sermons to the airwaves, so influenced Ronald Reagan’s public policy that how much they resented his influence, and ministered to George Bush, elder and younger. Even by the standards of the televangelists of the eighties and nineties, his preaching tends to the histrionic. On the morning of the inauguration he was preaching to the converted including the entire top of the Republican ticket, carried into office two months earlier by George Bush: Comptroller Carole Keeton Rylander, Land Commissioner David Dewhurst, Ag Commissioner Susan Combs, Attorney General John Cornyn, Lieutenant Governor Rick Perry, and the Governor himself. Also present was most of the Republican legislative caucus and two Democratic legislators. The Republicans showed up perhaps because of their religious convictions but certainly because the Christian Coalition is now an extension of their Party. Coalition voting guides, distributed from pulpits on Sundays before elections, turn out the vote for Republican candidates. The Coalition’s under-no-circumstances position on abortion is canonical among Republican legislators. Both the state Party chair Susan Weddington and co-chair David Barton are fundamentalist Christians with ties to the organizers of this event. Indeed, since the fundamentalist Christian takeover of the Republican Party at the 1994 Fort Worth convention, any lines that divided the party from the Coalition have been erased. No one is more beholden to the Christian Right than Rick Perry. As the chronically buoyant Abilene State Representative Bob Hunter chirped his introductions, Perry stood on the stage, blowing kisses and occasionally waving. His brief remarks included the obligatory line of scripture, but perfunctory, and both departed before Robison began a lachrymose twenty-minute sermon that had many in the audience weeping at the deathbed of Reverend Robison’s adoptive mother. There will be nothing perfunctory about Perry’s support of the Christian Right’s FEBRUARY 5. 1999 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 3