THIS PAST week was, in addition to everything else, "Dallas Week," a time when Washington is traditionally full of civic bluster and swelling rancor toward the Dallas Cowboys as they prepare to take on the Redskins. But a strange thing has happened this December: Dallas Week has gone almost unnoticed.
The summit had something to do with it, of course, and also the fact that this Cowboys-Redskins game doesn't mean as much as usual: the Cowboys are having a bad year, while the Redskins have already clinched their division championship. But the basic problem is that it just isn't much fun to hate the Cowboys when so many people back in Texas are doing the same thing.
Last week the Cowboys drew a crowd of just over 40,000, their smallest ever at Texas Stadium. After they lost, Cowboys coach Tom Landry, whose stony demeanor and infuriating history of success have long made him a target of Washington's wrath, was humiliatingly second-guessed on his play-calling by his boss, a man named Bum Bright, who possesses the kind of instant sports expertise that is credible only in a businessman wealthy enough to buy himself a team to go with it. Meanwhile, most of the Cowboys regulars are actively disliked in Dallas, partly for their recent losing ways but mostly for going out on strike this autumn during the National Football League walkout. In anti-union Dallas, picketing is not popular.
It all makes us wonder whether the Cowboys couldn't use a little vacation from the land of untrammeled capitalism, rugged individualism and tax wrangling. If things haven't gotten better for them by the next time they play at RFK Stadium, they might do well to come to Washington early and spend the whole of Dallas Week basking in the warm, forgiving atmosphere of big government. Here they'd get all the entitlements they're entitled to, possibly a government contract or two (complete with cost overruns) and, if they take a number and get in line, maybe even their own Cabinet-level department. After a week of receiving benefits and being cosseted by reassuring regulations, the Cowboys would be thoroughly rested for the big game. And even if they lost (which we'd hope they would), their fate need be no crueler than is usual for those who have spent some time in our city. That is to say they could all stay here and become consultants.