World: Texas Envoy

Tough new job for Strauss if

"I'm not damn fool enough to think I know anything about the Middle East." Thus, with a typically guileful display of candor, Robert S. Strauss, 60, assessed his qualifications for the diplomatic assignment passed on to him last week by Jimmy Carter: to be the nation's superambassador for the second stage of Middle East peace negotiations, which begin in 3½ weeks.

The ebullient former chairman of the Democratic National Committee was a surprising choice for that task. Strauss, whose father-in-law founded the Texas chapter of the American Jewish Committee, had hitherto been known primarily as...

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