A Federal Case; 13
This is a federal case a weekly show that takes up an issue of government in Washington D.C.. The national radio network. I think without any question the best politician has been I don't think anybody who voted for Richard Nixon is disappointed. I think that's a significant statement to make. No I don't think. I don't think we're going to get this in Mr. Nixon's administration I think we're going to get any complete action on what he believes we're going to get this balancing act. Those are a few statements on the Nixon administration by two of Washington's hottest commentators Mankowitz and Braden. They are hot more ways than one. You might say their philosophical bias blows in a different direction from Richard Nixon
and the Republican team in the White House so their comments are apt to be spicy and frank and not all that favorable much of the time. They are also hot for another reason. For several months now they have been doing an 11 o'clock nightly news show on one of Washington's television stations as well as a syndicated column that appears in the editorial page of The Washington Post. That new show is out of the ordinary as Mankowitz says the people in Washington seem to like a little chutney with their beef. They don't very often read the hard news but they give the background the follow up. The piece of information that put something in perspective. And they also like gimmicks when Clement Haynsworth nomination to the Supreme Court had yet to be voted on in Congress. Mankowitz and Braden kept the Haynesworth scoreboard that told how many senators were in favor and how many opposed each day. They sprinkle their news with a literary and historical references. And that if
nothing else gives you a sense that all that goes on in government has after all kind of happened before. Tom Braden is 51. He is lean Anglo-Saxon somewhat courtly but tough and he has an amazing history. He's done everything from joining the English army before World War Two to teaching English at Dartmouth College to working at the Museum of Modern Art in New York to running a California newspaper for 12 years to running for lieutenant governor of California and losing to being Northern California campaign coordinator for Robert Kennedy last year where he ran into Frank Mankowitz. Now Frank Mankowitz has done quite a bit him self a lot of people remember him as Robert Kennedy's press secretary who announced his death outside the hospital that day in June with the tears running down his face. But he also served as director of the Peace Corps for Latin America under John Kennedy and he worked on the plans for establishing the Office of Economic Opportunity
and way back he came from California where he got a master's degree in journalism and a law degree and worked in both fields. In a sense you could call them both members of the eastern liberal press in spite of the fact they both spent a lot of time in California. They have a liberal image. They supported John and Robert Kennedy and they smell of Democratic programs and philosophy in the interview you're about to hear you may be surprised they are not going to break Richard Nixon's presidency for half an hour. In fact they are even favorable to him at times. Listen to how they assess Mr. Nixon's tendency to get off alone when making decisions. I kind of like that. I don't find I think people probably don't make decisions. I suspect that's why Abraham Lincoln made it I hate to think Lincoln sat around with those wretched people he had in his government all of them. How do you like that these news men even invoke the image of Abraham Lincoln in the same
room with Richard Nixon. Sometimes these eastern liberals surprise you. Next you're going to hear them discuss a number of things about Mr. Nixon's presidency. Now sound in the background a bit because their office was small when I was in a corner. You'll hear Tom Braden first you're saying to me that one of the things you say in a number of different ways is that. President Nixon is a good politician and he may be unbeatable. It's a consummate politician and that is both praise and as you suggest a somewhat critical because it seems to me that he has great weaknesses that he lets his mastership of politics get in the way of what we might call leadership or his own ideas. If he has any if he's decided in this particular this particular month these particular months in this particular time to run against the second most disliked look at America he already has a trick good
track record against the most disliked group in America according to Gallup that's the Communist he's now building himself a great track record of running against the second most unpopular group of student demonstration. And when you figure that he probably was doing his very best to get out of Viet Nam is quite an accomplishment. We have a strong philosophy of government. No I think it's entire record as a politician I'm a let Frank take over from now on but I watch Mr. Nixon very closely and I was very closely associated in a rival capacity when he ran for governor of California in 1962 should I watch him close up and I think that his whole record is one of very clever politics an attempt to ally himself against the disliked groups in America an attempt to she's what I call the middle of the road and stay there. And I think this very much gets in the way of any ideas that he might ever have had.
Yeah I think there's a great knack for taking what is really an extreme position and making it seem moderate Attorney General Mitchell for example is currently promoting what is really an extraordinarily radical scheme in America which is to put people in jail before they've been convicted of a crime of pretrial detention or preventive detention and he presented it to the Senate committee. There's always some kind of moderate position he said now there are some people who don't want anybody to go to jail until they've been convicted. And then there are others who want to put everyone in you know not grant bail at all and we have an essentially moderate position well that's nonsense. In the first place the people who want to don't want preventive detention are people who believe in the Constitution and everyone detained without bail simply don't exist. Just as Mr Nixon when he spoke on Vietnam said that now there are those who want to get out of Vietnam tomorrow. We don't pull everybody out of one's will. There are no such people if they are they're a very tiny portion of the population.
And then he said the easiest thing in the world for me to yield to that would be popular political to do that but I'm not going to do it I'm going to take this moderate position. It's just absurd. He did it with the question of desegregation he said it to extremes in the country on the question of extremists who want integration now and extremists who want segregation forever and we're going to take the middle ground Well it turned out he just appointed a man to Supreme Court it was one of those extremists who wanted integration now. But that's his method and it so far seems to be working very technically to the same thing in economics and he's a traitor to the nation it's part of his speech to me. He said there are those. On one hand you want price control and there are those on the other hand who believe that you can get places by jabbering jawboning jawboning in effect to take the middle road. He's very fond of that middle part which is sure Jani but I agree with
Tom that he doesn't have any deep beliefs or philosophy about government I think it's very easy for a ball Titian to be convinced that the best thing for the country is for him to be re-elected and I think he probably believes that. Not in terms of personal power but I think you really believe that it's best for America for the Nixon people sort of to be running it and that's a legitimate belief for a politician to have but I'm afraid it's the extent of his deep beliefs I mean I think I think it's hard to think of a great public issue any of the issues segregation crime foreign policy welfare economics whatever all these divisive issues are and try to think of a position on that issue. Any position on any of those issues which Mr. Nixon could take that would shock you. And I don't think any. Well let's just turn to another question. Think of the entire political career of Richard. Can you think of any issue. Initiative out of him from the country since the early 1950s when we first heard of Richard Nixon in which he was
taken a forward position pointing the way for his countrymen to follow. Well I try to you know me. No he's not a leader. But you see in a way that's one of his great strengths. Humphrey for instance was trapped by a number of things his own liberal history the administration he served in. I mean if if if Humphrey had come along during the campaign for instance and proposed to abolish social security you'd be shocked if Mr. Jackson were to come along and propose that or if he were to propose that it be doubled. You wouldn't be shocked. No matter which position he took in the same as you had not if Humphrey would have proposed during the campaign that we get out of yet. Well he just couldn't Nixon could do either he can escalate he can de-escalate. Indeed I'm quite convinced that he's getting out of Vietnam just about as fast. Most people would want him to but he's going to do it in such a way as to make it appear somehow. First of all middle ground and secondly to make it appear some trick.
You see Lyndon Johnson's Great Well he made a lot of them but his main error was that he did not account one of the worst politicians ever gets at the White House and look at the 1964 election returns and he thought it meant a great landslide victory for him which in a certain sense it did. But what it really meant was that 40 percent of the people who voted for Goldwater were saying that they were going to vote Republican no matter what happened. And so when Johnson would then look at the polls on the war which showed that he had 55 58 percent of the people with him on the war he thought that many could be reelected. But out of that 55 or 58 percent 40 percent already told him they were going to vote for him no matter what he did. So what he really was looking at was polls showing him that he had about 15 percent of the Democrats with him which turned out to be correct. Nixon never makes that blunder he reads a 968 election returns. Showing that 43 percent of the American people roughly are going to vote Democratic no matter what. And it's nothing Mr. Nixon can do to get that vote. He can take the strongest
civil rights position the strongest immigration position the strongest position that it's possible to take and he's not going to pick up more than 2 or 3 percent of that vote those people are going to vote for him anyway. What he's got to do is hold his own 43 percent and pick up that 13 percent that went for George Wallace. So that's obviously what he's doing that's what the Southern Strategy is about that's why he gives us the judge Haynesworth for the Supreme Court it's why he wants to delay the voting rights bill that's why he wants to delay all of these things are all aimed in that direction but it's all rhetoric here. While political position to position Richard Nixon and your position that the country will by its
two sided proposition I want to get out of Viet Nam which places the dogs and it I will not be the first president to suffer a defeat which places the Hawks and the real question is up ahead as to whether he can maintain this balancing act in a fashion which will keep him on top and I am afraid that I agree with Frank that what's most important to him is that he stay on top of the criticisms of the young particularly that the president is double dealing the country or that he is dividing it and how he'll be remembered. First the double dealing. I don't think he's consciously double dealing as Tom said what he's doing is he's getting out of Vietnam as fast as he thinks it's possible to do. But he can't say that because that's the language of surrender that's the language of bugout that's the language of the hogs have been taught stuff like this. George Wallace to get a little permit George Wallace in 1972 the sale was sold out. Who lost Saigon you know was quite
obviously lost sight on the side gun but that isn't going to go with those people and so Mr. Nixon had a lot of hard rhetoric and the risk of it is that the UN people think is double dealing. But the young people are going to vote for him anyway and he knows that. Second is the consummate politician. He then me with a consummate politician to me evidently divide the country because he is appealing to the groups that are most important as far as we like. No I don't think that means you've got to divide the country in fact I think that from their standpoint it seems to me Mr. Nixon had done a superb job as compared with Lyndon Johnson I don't think the country is as divided now as it was under Lyndon Johnson. Let's take an injunction and his attitude toward the war he knew that the young people were opposed to it and know what he did was to escalate it and. He was either honest enough or stupid enough whichever way you want to put it to
admit it frankly and to say that's what he wanted to do. Hang that coonskin on the wall. Nixon by playing a little softer and by doing what I suspect he's doing this is just my belief that he is trying to get out just fast again because he knows it's politically wise. The country won't stand for it anymore is softening the division I think he gets right. He's got a much lower profile he's not around very much you know Lyndon Johnson was there every day. You couldn't you couldn't turn around without seeing him he was on the television he had press conferences every day he was giving speeches he was all over page one if you can go days now without being aware that Mr. Nixon is around but still those posters on their face they're just a little bit this is a part of Mr. Nixon's ability as a politician it seems to me it seems to me that it's quite demonstrably from the time he took office he determined to conduct himself in a fashion which was almost totally the opposite of Lyndon Johnson.
And he's only once or twice for going to a dry line she has made a clear break between his own conduct in office and that of his predecessor. His rhetoric is to me everything to me which he is like you know you know like Johnson and that is my daughter. The only thing that justified the war on much the same grounds but but the johns only in performance would have been considerably different although it is one of the places where he slipped a little bit I mean the sudden visit up to the Hill to speak to the House and Senate and promote that resolution and get behind these sort of fringe demonstrations that took place during the week of the mobilization in support of the war. Those were John Soni and actions but in general Tom is absolutely right he is he is as good in terms of a president the presidency is as unlike Johnson I think it's almost as possible debate style complain so now he doesn't have press conferences he doesn't use the Congressional Medal of Honor ceremony as an occasion for
a political speech. Compass is trying but he doesn't do it the way I do it doesn't call in favored. That's right. Potential Medal of Honor and persuade them they could jolt them into writing favorable columns of oil just have those sort of endless three and four hour harangues with some members of the White House press either. Nixon has met the press relatively infrequently had five or six press conferences a couple of them on specific questions like you have just be had just one on one in which all the questioning was limited to judge change where for instance public televised press conferences and he's only had three and he hasn't suddenly demanded network time to make it to the nation. All of the important statement not too long ago and did it on the radio. Can't imagine John I mean is it doesn't seem to me anyway that he has Blacks very close no because the one that says he's already got 3 percent on his side of course he should come or if you have any.
Morning timing came up tomorrow morning in a speech in which she came from there were going to be in the beginning next month every negro child in the South was going to have an equal educational opportunity. He still wouldn't get the black vote it wouldn't go up 2 percent. He knows that he was alienated the black vote took place over the last 20 to 30 years and might take that long. Rutherford B. I mean that's going to take another generation to make that a two party four five percent of the black 968 and sure John Mitchell has told him and Kevin Philips and all the rest of them nothing he can do that can raise that it's not worth it. You know there are things you should be doing I think and I'm sure most people think he's probably not going to do that for these political reasons but
but he's not doing it because he wants to divide the blacks or alienate them or make them or make them distant from America. He's doing it because he believes it's best for you. I think that remains to be seen but I think it remains to be seen because she was represent the America today or at least the America to come to. Nixon thinks he does and we will see he may be wrong it may be that the kind of coalition which Robert Kennedy was trying to put together a coalition of the blacks and the little white church is stronger than cynics think somebody can put it together again you know be defeated because he's left those people out of his reckoning. If there's no inflation serious enough to cause serious dislocation the unemployment rate does not reach alarming
proportions and if the war is successfully wound down I think he's unbeatable. Those are three big ifs. I'm not sure you can carry those off the words wound down in such a way that a communist government comes to Saigon which is quite likely or if inflation is not controlled which is quite likely or if in the course of controlling inflation unemployment rises to 5 6 7 percent which is also quite likely that he's in trouble but I think control those things and then the modern McKinlay and I start been re-elected were re-elected. They only got part way it was second but I think Richard Nixon is a very good feel for what the American people want out of government which at the moment is not very much contradiction between kind of lower people's voices coming down. And initiating a strong positive
eventually divisive values within them for sure. Well Howie how do you feel that he's issued this not my not like she has me saying you can't do both. No you can't race going to get you know if you're good if you have goals for the mission which you really want to achieve then you get lawyers lawyers says we were notified. And Roosevelt Theodore Roosevelt You can't lower your voice. The president is the only leader of the people I mean the multitude of voices to be sure but to really rally the people behind some cause. Mr. Nixon is not only a straight answer is the only one of undoing in his view I think this is what he thinks the country wants right now he may be right when you say well may not suffer choosing him simply balance each other from your ranks. If Frank's list list of gifts turn out negatively then he'll suffer and we'll all be sorry that we did not have a leader that we had a balance
arranged it. But if they turn out positively then everybody I think the same coming right for me and it will be like to me kind of put down a lot of letters like do you think there's one that's a good one. I mean this family I think that welfare program is something I personally think is a very good program and I think probably the outstanding piece of legislation that he said the welfare bosome lover if nothing else he said that our president just on welfare is how it must go. No president has had the guts to say that. In recent times we've all tried to patch it up. That was good. And as I say if he'd add some things to it that probably will have to go. It could be quite a significant significant change in one year. I think that 10 years ago he made a speech change that we ought to put the troops in Vietnam to help the French He was stating what Bush
is going to be at the time now and he's withdrawing troops he's dealing with popular view at the time. I think that pretty consistently he is and always working toward the goal of becoming the consummate politician in which he is now in my opinion reached. I think he's changed maybe a little bit everyone does a little quieter. More aware I suppose some of the limitations of power but I think not. Not basically has Richard Nixon done something besides just just respond when he feels they can change the country and say oh well this time said he's come this down. Country's far less divided than it was a year ago. Partly by the technique of coming and the president the choice of
de-escalating the president nobody just angry at producing action as they were were an injunction. I'm aware of all the satisfaction. Sure there's a good chance to disillusion her but you know young people don't understand and they can't understand because they have been through it that you lose some elections and then you win some elections I mean those other folks they won this election and I think the significant thing about Richard Nixon is not that he is moved the country in any particular direction but that. I think the people who voted for him are getting what they voted for. Well there's nothing wrong with that. That's the American way. Now do you think historians. Why don't you think he's right. Well I would think they would judge him as their Judge William McKinley did you think of that analogy which I don't think is a very bad one. Frank may disagree but it seems to me that they're going to say that he reflected the.
Mood of his times which was to leave us alone. He reflected the mood of the people who elected me reflected the mood of an upper class Country Club America a country club belonging America and the real question as to how they will judge him as to whether or not this reflection brings us through. Yeah I think that's the question. He served two terms as President Eisenhower did of relative prosperity and peace. He got into pretty good history books as a transitional you'd have to a little more clairvoyance transition between what what you have to know what comes next. I have a feeling he will be succeeded by an activist president whether in 1972 or 1976 but as these things run that way the problems will be piling up and stacking up and people are sort of caught their breath and now right now let's let's be summoned again the energy to deal with some of these national problems the environment after
all is what I think that's true for not only for that reason Frank but for actual things that we can see in the horizon the president's doing nothing about defense oriented. That's right economy and that's a problem that is obviously piling he's doing nothing about it I can see about inflation and that's a problem of telling the environment and the environment can't wait. The environment isn't going to wait forever and the. And beside that do you have coming up within five to six years in and or a mishmash of people who judged him. Well not only that but you have going to become voters I mean young people you're talking about they're well educated and they're smart they're intelligent and they have money and they're white. And what that means is that they will be taking over this country 10 years or so that is to say they will become the vice president in charge of sales. The president of the university the head of the network and the managing editor of the newspaper and the head of the Bar Association and the medical association and the rest. And they have a totally different set of priorities
and they will change this country just as the New Deal generation scarred by the Depression changed our economic system and scarred by the war they're feeling and their country is taking a moral stance and they're that they're bound to. Put into practice some things that come from that scarring. I mean young people today look at the massacre of the American troops apparently conducted in Vietnam last year. I suspect they look at it through quite different eyes than the current generation of leadership which is inclined apparently to say well these things happen in a war and the other side is just as brutal after all. But then people are going to stand for that. I mean there were Americans machine gunning babies. It doesn't matter what anybody else does you know. Doesn't matter that the Vietcong killed 300 or 3000 people in a way it doesn't matter that it wasn't the policy of the government or the army's going to court martial That's all important. The system the political system which permits that to happen is wrong and they're going to change it. And one way they'll change it I would think is simply to say that the whole set of
priorities is wrong just as you decide you've got these guys pig and you really know their number. They surprise you with their perception. Now the bias never really disappears. They'll never tell you they're going to vote for Mr. Nixon. But they have told you when he's done something good like welfare and they have told you that they rank him a consummate politician. They've sympathized with him in his office and they put him in a kind of a nice historical perspective. You haven't gotten a flat good or bad judgment from Braden Mankowitz which means that they aren't just Kennedy men or eastern liberals. They're responsible newsman. This has been a federal case. Your correspondent Anzio.
This program was distributed by the national educational radio network. A.
- A Federal Case
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- National Educational Radio Network
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- University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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- "A Federal Case" is a weekly program produced by the National Educational Radio Network which examines current political topics in the United States and Washington, D.C. Each episode features interviews with experts, members of the public, and lawmakers concerning a specific issue of government.
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Producing Organization: National Educational Radio Network
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University of Maryland
Identifier: 69-38-13 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
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