Thursday, June 21, 2012
the last book I ever read (The Passage of Power, excerpt seven)
from Robert A. Caro's The Passage of Power: The Years of Lyndon Johnson:
The attention focused on fraud in the 1960 presidential campaign has during the intervening half century centered on Illinois, not Texas. The Republican allegations, not only about voting in the Valley but about the invalidating of ballots under the new state law, have never been examined in the depth necessary to ascertain their validity, much less to determine how many votes were affected if indeed the allegations were true. Nor have the many other factors--from demographic shifts in the state's population to the scene in the Adolphus Hotel--ever been examined in the necessary depth. Today, the passage of time has made it difficult--impossible, really--to ascertain, in trying to assess the election results in Texas, the weight that should be assigned, in an equation that contains so many factors, to the vote from the "ethnic bloc." Paul Kilday wrote of the 31,000-vote "reversal" in San Antonio, which of course included the 14,000-vote plurality the Kilday machine produced in that city's West Side. It would be misleading to speak of a "reversal" in the Valley, since George Parr and his allies could simply produce whatever result they wanted there. But Parr had demonstrated before that when he became angry at what he construed to be an inadequate lack of allegiance by some public official, he would retaliate in the next election by throwing the Valley's bloc vote to the official's opponent. How he might have reacted had Lyndon Johnson not assisted with his court case can be today, long after his death, a matter only for speculation, since, so far as the author can determine, no historian or journalist raised the matter with him before his death. But the point is moot in any event: Johnson produced the legal help, and Parr produced the votes--the 21,000 plurality. Thirty-one thousand and 21,000--in an election that was decided by 46,000 votes, the weight of those votes could hardly have been a minor factor. Whatever the explanation for the results from the "ethnic bloc" in Texas. John Kennedy had selected Lyndon Johnson in part to take back Texas for the Democratic presidential ticket, and Johnson had done it.