Thursday, November 04, 2004

Brown Moose Democrat blog.

This evening I was explaining the Solid South to Yuriko, in its historic context, the century or so when the South always voted Democratic. Naturally the term "boll weevil Democrat" came up. At which point Lilly piped up and said, “Bullwinkle Democrat!” That’s my girl.

Rep. Phil Crane came up yesterday, and as it turns out word of his forced retirement impresses people something like an old star’s death notice: “He was still alive?” Or she, in the case of Fay Wray, just to use a recent example.

(I checked to make sure I’d remember right about her, and learned about some other recent passings I’d missed, such as Mercury 7 astronaut Gordon Cooper and funny(ish)man Rodney Dangerfield. A fine web site.)

Re Phil Crane, my brother Jay writes: “Until I saw a report earlier today that he had been put out of office after 35 years, I had no idea that Phil Crane was still in office. I hadn't heard anything about him in years. He was very active, I remember, on the right wing of the Republican Party back in the early ’70s, when I was a student radical. He showed up regularly -- junketing even then, perhaps -- at Young Republican (YR) and Young Americans for Freedom (YAF) events around the country.

“It's possible that I saw him at one of these events, but I don't recall now. I attended the YAF southwest regional convention in Houston in 1971, and the Texas YR state conventions in 1971 and 1972, in Ft. Worth and Dallas, respectively. The 1972 meeting was my last political convention. I drank 14 Harvey Wallbangers ladled out of a galvanized iron washtub in the SMU delegation's hospitality suite and -- since it was St. Patrick's Day -- several glasses of green beer too.

“The next morning, though I felt truly awful (see Kingley Amis' Lucky Jim for a description of an comparable hangover) I was compelled to attend the Saturday morning session of the convention. Statewide officers were to be elected and the leadership of the Black Hats -- the faction in whose interest I had promised to appear -- were afraid that the delegations might be polled; everyone needed to be in place.”

Black Hats? That’s a fine name for a faction. During my sophomore year in college, Goldwaterism ascended to power in the form of Ronald Reagan, but I was happy go along with the prevailing political apathy on campus. So I never downed any Harvey Wallbangers in the service of politics, left or right. Things were different only a decade earlier, and I suppose that moment in my brother’s student career -- that St. Patrick’s Day -- could be called his time with the Tight Right.


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