The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 93, July 1989 - April, 1990 Page: 271
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and, more specifically, a type of liberalism most often identified with
the existing Democratic party of the state of Texas.
It was the journalists who dominated the conference, and they spoke
glibly and with more form than substance. Striking out at almost every-
thing and everyone, few customs, traditions, practices, or reputations
in the state were spared. Their ideas tended to reflect what William
Golding describes as the best that can be expected from second-rate
thinking. Golding means that phrase, of course, as no insult, for that
particular intellect is a good deal better than most. Their utterances fell
to the third-rate, however, when they spoke authoritatively of solu-
tions, and their edicts seemed rather more an art form devoted to an
ideology resting essentially upon noncritical intransigence than upon
Almost all of the journalists brought along their one-liners. Success-
ful magazine and newspaper writers learn rather quickly, if this confer-
ence is an example, that it is not so much what one says as how one says
it. In Austin, that peculiar journalistic custom gingered up one's liber-
ties with verbal crudity. If something was difficult to understand and
even more difficult to explain, but if one felt compelled, nevertheless,
to explain it, an inserted vulgarism could be used to cover one's defi-
ciencies. Of course, it could hardly conceal one's prejudices, but at this
chummy gathering of the fourth estate, facts seemed to present neither
encumbrance nor embarrassment. If one could express oneself with
style, one could say almost anything with the effect that some particu-
larly practiced Cleons seemed always to be "on." Neither did ambiguity
present a problem, and as one reads the proceedings, one suspects that
a few journalists preferred the jargon of the opaque. If one were
trapped by a cute but meaningless non sequitur, one could always es-
cape by explaining that it was not what one meant, that the comment
was intended more as an ironic illustration than a practical reality, and
the literate listener would understand the nuance. Well, there is plenty
of that sort of thing in this book. There were more disciples of H. L.
Mencken at the conference than of William Allen White. Readers who
enjoy the sweep of simple sarcasm will not be disappointed.
As one might expect, the politicians were there together with their
cheerleaders, hangers-on, and fringe players, and again, with some no-
table exceptions, they represented a fairly uniform political viewpoint.
They consistently gave strong advocacy to progress and to commit-
ment. They, too, used to advantage vague indistinctions together with
the utopian corollaries of a bright future and a universal well-being in
Texas. They offered little specifically, but they extolled the value of
education. Their oratory dwelt on prosperity, opportunity, jobs, and
Here’s what’s next.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 93, July 1989 - April, 1990, periodical, 1990; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101213/m1/311/: accessed October 17, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.