thumbnail of Twelve columnists take a look at Nixon
Hide -
If this transcript has significant errors that should be corrected, let us know, so we can add it to FIX IT+
A. The national educational radio network presents 12 columnist views on Richard Nixon's first year here was an E.R. and public affairs director and the Washington Post columnist. Look at President Nixon after a year. How will history judge the thirty seventh president of the United States. It's like saying A from the top of the washing mine to tell me how it feels if you jump off I mean it we won't know until it happens. And he said maybe and for another seven years I think it's probably too early to weep to judgment that they were that bad I think it remains to be say Mitch but I think that he
made to be seen you know production couldn't get into it as much too early. I think it's almost impossible to speculate on that matter I think he's far too worried about what he you know what I think historians are going to have to wait till death because the judges he's good newsman are careful they don't like to get into the business of prediction and speculation. They like facts and they prefer to talk about the facts they have witnessed firsthand. So they don't like guessing how Richard Nixon might look in the history books that have yet to be written for the next hour 12 columnists who appear in the editorial pages of The Washington Post are going to talk about Richard Nixon's presidency. They will discuss what they have seen in the more than a year that he's been in the White House all these journalists comment on a number of aspects of the federal government. But all of them have at one time or another written about the president's performance in that since all these news men
are professional President watchers. You will hear Tom Braden and Frank Mankowitz Both are former Kennedy supporters. They like to offer as one of them says a little chutney with their beef to the nation's capital and they do this not just in the Washington Post but in special analysis on one of Washington's nightly television news shows. You'll hear David Broder one of the Washington Post most highly respected political reporters who also has a syndicated column. You will hear Art Buchwald also a syndicated columnist who writes a humorous column three times a week. He says I think Mr. Nixon is a very fine man. And then he adds remember you're talking to a satirist. You will hear Marcus Chiles who is Washington's contributing editor to The St. Louis Post-Dispatch. And this year's winner of the Pulitzer Prize for political commentary as well as a syndicated columnist who appears in The Washington Post. You will hear Roscoe and Jeffrey Drummond a father
son syndicated columnist team who say they are well known for their quote strong contacts with the present administration and particularly the White House. You will hear Roland Evans of the Evans Novak team he is talking for both because Robert Novak is out of the country. They prefer to be called syndicated reporters. You will hear Joseph Kraft and now the syndicated columnist you will hear Dano would offer one of the brushing and polls close as president watchers. He travels with the president. He has even written Mr. Nixon's a bitch you arre for the paper. And he writes a column on him once a week for the editorial pages. You will hear Chalmers Sam Roberts. He is the national affairs chief of The Washington Post and a reporter for more than 35 years. He also writes a weekly column now. Finally you will hear William asked White a veteran political columnist a strong Lyndon Johnson supporter a journalist who study walls are lined with autographed pictures of presidents and heads of state. All these
journalists will look at Richard Nixon from four perspectives. First his qualities of leadership. Second his actions as president. Third his style of leadership. Finally his overall impact and success as president. There is considerable confusion in the country both about the kind of man we have in the White House and what he is trying to do. Now it may be that it takes considerably more than a single year for a president's policies to be understood completely. Furthermore depending on whether you are a Republican or a Democrat a Nixon supporter or not. Your views may differ in any case. The 12 News man you are about to hear or interview before the Cambodian invasion this spring. Some call themselves riders of news analysis. Others commentators. They are going to present some very different analyses of the president the kind of leader a president turns out to be is determined by several things.
Has he changed as he's grown older. Does he have a strong moral purpose. Is he a good politician. What are his special talents as a leader. These are the questions I asked the 12 News men. Here are some of their answers. First on whether the president has changed in the last 10 years there was the position that Tom Braden who speaks first and then Frank Mankowitz take no I don't think he's changing the question. I think that 10 years ago he made a speech saying a lot of the troops in Vietnam helped the French He was stating what was a bit of it at the time. Now it is withdrawing troops restating what popular view at the time. I think that pretty consistently He has been a fellow who was working toward the goal of becoming a concert poet Titian which though 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. And then there was the position of Geoffrey in Roscoe Drummond Roscoe speaking first. An awful lot of Americans a large number of American don't realize how much this man has grown during the last 10 years when matured greatly. I think many of us remember what is called the old Nixon was political in fire a scrapper almost a vicious man in many ways. Now he is calm outwardly if not inwardly inwardly no one can know but he he is more mature. He made it on his own financially. In Wall Street you know high powered law firm which he had never done before he was a poor boy from Yorba Linda California and always lived on.
Public income going again and made it privately and Scotty Reston row from Miami Beach. Richard Nixon made the greatest political comeback since Lazarus. Most of the newsman believes something in between these two teams that there has been some change in Richard Nixon. Here's Joseph Kraft. He was a very different man in 1960. I know none of us are the same. None of us are all that different but certainly something very important and different it happened to Nixon which is that he had come to New York had made good as a lawyer I had a great deal of a great deal more self confidence in himself had studied the record didn't tense up at least didn't tense up right off. You know I think he was a much more mature man. Chalmers Roberts of course is changed. Anybody changes just by experience as he himself says he's learned and I actually have.
But fundamentally he's probably the same man he was a long long time ago. William asked White makes himself heard over a passing your plane. I think no man in our history has had so divided a career I thought there was a time when Mr. Nixon was. Pretty bad fellow directly in the fifties of course he was right. He was in many cases struck by other forces or forces. And to be brief and blunt about it that he's grown up and that he has improved a great you finally David Broder. Well it's strange in one important respect from being a loser to being a winner. Yes he has changed I don't know that. I mean I'm not a psychologist. I think newspaper men get in trouble when they try to be amateur psychologists. But I think one of the qualities that Nixon has is an ability to go back afterwards and say OK I blew it that time. What what did we do wrong and what can we do
to avoid making that error the next time. There is considerable disagreement over whether the president has a strong moral purpose or is primarily a politically motivated leader. So while Jeffrey Drummond says so what. I don't really care about a man's motivations. I don't really care about the president's motivations. It's what he does that count. And his father says I'm next and I have some very high goals that he wants to accomplish. Every man who come to the White House has no further place to go. And therefore his only goal is to be a worthy president. The only other journalist who believes that Richard Nixon has a strong moral purpose is William as white. Well I'm going to sound naive here. Political writer of more than 30 but I have never known for a while whom I did not think I referred to him for really really fucking easy. Most felt differently.
Here's Don Obrador for I think certainly he's a first politician Nixon has been studying the office watching the office running for the office longer than probably any other president in history. And yet I don't feel like to while there were things he wanted to do as president he does have his ideas. I don't feel he has so strong. Purpose it was a deep commitment to a particular set of values imposters. Rowland Evans I would say very definitely he is a politician's politician. The Republican Party's appreciate his factory and Mr. Nixon for surely since 1954 when he started where the Eisenhower administration is vice
president. He started his job as spear point for the president for the party in the congressional election campaign to the Mankowitz Brayden team. Tom Braden speaking I think years without any question the best politician has been in the White House since William McKinley. 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 seize what they 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 markings Giles. So I think he's very pragmatic. I don't want to use the word expedient perhaps. Thanks Betty. He's a politician. David Broder I've never been persuaded or been able to see how you know Nixon's Quaker roots or his family
experiences or any of the sort left him with anything that I would you know I think you could dignify with by calling a philosophy I think like most successful politicians is an essentially pragmatic man who responds to problems and responds to political pressures. And when I asked Art Buchwald of Mr. Nixon had a strong moral philosophy he answered things out of the rubble and probably be in the way already or very good for you know. Back to Bo. Or a word that we have the right background made it out of a few of the news men who talked about the lack of a strong philosophy in Mr Nixon do see Nevertheless some special strengths in his presidency. Here is Joseph craft.
There is now going around a sort of famous quote out of Nixon saying of middle America these are my people I can talk about something he said to me and I think that that's true that Nixon and no one is going to attack next and as you know as a soft peacenik if he gets out of the war now Mankowitz AND BRAEDEN Frank Mankowitz first it's hard to think of a great public issue any of the issues segregation crime Vietnam 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 try to have a question. Think of the entire political career of Richard and you think of any issue any issue. Better than friendly countries in 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. Now I try to you know really know he's not a leader in a way that's one of his great strength free for instance was trapped by a number of things his own liberal history the administration he served in I mean if if next 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 Vietnam. Well he just couldn't Nixon could do either use a different kind of strength described by Art Buchwald. Well I think in terms of great man and great wealth and the great thing one of the. Pregnant things are bad you know back getting your
butt out of the man of Greg and your order I don't think term you can do a lot of what you bring to somebody you have the most obvious way to decide how well a president is doing how good he is it is job is to look at some of his actions during the time he's been in office. In President Nixon's case the first action one has to consider is Vietnam. As Chalmers Robert says they sort of anticipatory attitude in the country. And this is reflected here in Washington. You're fond of Alice Through the government. People say well once you get Vietnam out of the way so and so can I happen it will happen. We can do this and that. I think is. He knows this is his priority and he's trying to operate as a work in spite of the fact that the Cambodian incident had not taken place when these interviews were taped. Most of the newsmen had reservations about the president's Vietnam policy
even though most did think the president was honestly withdrawing certain numbers of American troops. Here is Marcus Giles I think he's made a practical problem to go in perhaps a workable judgment in the Vietnamization policy. I think it's going to be determined whether or not it will work. And Joseph I think he certainly intends to get out of the war completely I think he had a plan I think the plan failed. I think he does not have a plan now. And my impression is that the reason one at least the reason I am very very. I'm really skeptic I think that it takes a tremendous amount of force I think it really does take a plan I think it takes a program and not an awful lot of energy a lot of power to get out of that war because the forces drawing you into that war are enormous. A reason I'm sort of skeptic I have been down on the president recently is that I think he's proceeding along a line that he thinks is going to take him out of the war but that won't
take him out. It is going to get him I think by being there for a long long time. He has made an assessment. Of what the American people are willing to do and what they were not able to do. I have no doubt that if the Tet offensive in 1968 the other events connect. That had not occurred that he would prefer to go in there in court when the war I think that's his tendency. He's a strong part of any company. His writings were really about Vietnam. Show that he sees this. Sorry I have no doubt he probably was still sees as a test to strain between the noncommunist world and I mean as it were. He was a man who was. In 1954. Made the trial balloon that maybe we will see troops to Vietnam.
But nonetheless it's perfectly clear to any body who knows anything about American politics and public opinion that you know just I mean it's not. He's not willing to support this war. Returning to wide back wall after they would get there I think you'd like to read what I really think that he's read. The plane struck part of the American writing in turn may be good for you and Brayden Mankowitz Tom Braden first partition which I believe mission is that he thinks that the country will be more happy if we should be committed as American soldiers or combat troops out of it and
leave enough there to ensure that we don't have headlines saying that FEMA has taken over within six months of a friendship. We always use troops where we have a war I don't think the Joint Chiefs understand. They can be any other kind of war and it comes right that's I'm sure that's like the idea because that's the sure way to be able to fight off a who sold out our gallant allies campaign in the 90s and there were only two journalists who didn't express reservations about the president's intention to withdraw troops. First Roscoe Drummond second William as white. I think that that Nixon doesn't like war any more than an honest but in ears are quite. Of course your background you don't want more. I think you know outstanding action in foreign affairs has been to begin a slow liquidation of the war without the last national so far
and without a loss so far a central national threat and I think it's been almost correct. Just one of the major questions which has been asked by President watchers ever since Mr Nixon took office is Has the President reached all the various factions in the country. This is one of the few questions on which there was no disagreement. Here's David Broder I don't really think you try to read. Young people I don't think he's trying to reach poor people. I don't think he's really trying to reach black people or minority groups. Chalmers Roberts he's never really been at home and domestic affairs except for civil rights. And there you have a curiosity because he. Has Quaker background and I think it's natural inclination is very decent and honorable and yet here it crosses to some degree his political. Feelings. But basically he's not been interested in
Urban Affairs has never been and in that case and they understood the city's problems except in a theoretical sense he has no or a poor with the black community. It's very evident the Drummonds in the area of civil rights in the area of school integration. We're in a period of confused stalemate and whose fault is the computer. I don't think the silence of the president is absolutely zero reliability and until he speaks out we're we're all in depression can give leadership and that's an historic American troops and the president is not giving leadership today and therefore I think that that he has to be seriously Pauley for not doing Obrador for well obviously. Just quickly nothing to blacks. He's. Very little that really has come through to a large segment of young people.
He is not oriented toward problems with cities these are not the constituencies which elected him president. These you know constituencies in which he expects to. Build his. Political base. Marcus Giles certainly you could say as a group the blacks have been. Oh I'm sorry. This I don't want to use that word that President Johnson you're talking I'm consensus but something like that which President Nixon has been trying to achieve. Tom Braden and Frank Mankowitz became tomorrow morning in demand to know where timing came up tomorrow morning in a speech in which she Black Power came out. Like Power announced that they were going to be billions spent on here or should each and that beginning next month every negro child in the shop was going to have an equal educational opportunity with every white child. He still wouldn't get up at it Blackbaud wouldn't go up 2 percent. He knows that.
He was alienated the black vote that took place over the last 20 to 30 years and might take that long. Rutherford B. I mean that's going to take awhile it likely going to other generations to make that a two party. Nixon got four five percent of the black vote 1968 and sure John Mitchell has told him and Kevin Philips and all the rest of the Gold Star says there's nothing he can do that can raise that beyond seven or eight it's not worth it it was a kind of consensus among those newsman who discussed who they thought was Mr. Nixon's strongest appointment. First Rowland Evans I think John Mitchell is probably still despite his apparent inability to distinguish between the good and the bad. The Supreme Court at a point today as close as anybody knew Mr. Nixon Tom Braden his strongest appointment ever since John Mitchell. The country is beginning to find a natural and Chalmers Roberts in the
domestic feel that I think the attorney John how much I was most influential advisor next or course was his campaign manager. So there you have physically an one man power Texan program. There were some other names mentioned by these journalists presidential appointees who have done a good job by George Shultz has done a very good job at labor. I think that the layer is doing an excellent job. I have high respect Rummy friend Bill Rogers. Well I think the better man in the cabinet from my standpoint would be Bill Rogers I think layered defense is good I think Fanchon AGW is actually Shultz is fine at labor. I think lit is the most realistic. Then she had trouble. Here's what Buchwald had to say. Point to what Bob.
I mean the White House is happening right there a man in the Arab language. We have the power and I think in the name of ask these news men to talk about presidential blunders and there are almost as many suggestions as there are journalists. Here are a few jokes of craft. I think you just got stuck in this policy in Vietnam and I think he's probably more stuck in the know. Jeffrey in Moscow Drummond among his worst things of course ours is in action or sloppy action on civil rights I think that the that we have a shortcoming is in the field of leadership and advocacy in the in the area of school
integration and civil rights. And therefore I think that I would join in citing that as the paramount shortcoming of the administration. William asked White I remember very poorly some lady to be your consumer adviser who turned out to have her conflict of interest and with a slightly longer analysis. Rowland Evans now that he left the. Conservatives got too far ahead of him. On the whole school integration question he allowed a situation of close to chaos. Certainly a good situation is situation of great confusion to build up around just what was the Dixon policy on desegregating the schools. What was it on de facto segregation in the north. Where did he really stand in terms of court opinions. Some people would call this a blunder. I think that his intent
which has now been accomplished could have been accomplished without releasing so many problems without releasing so many personality conflicts. If he had decided way way back just what route he was going to take what he wanted to do of course was to ease the pressure rather drastically on some of the holdouts other districts. He wanted to get a GW and his administration out of the front lines in the desegregation fight and put it on the backs of courts which politically would be to his advantage in the self. He wanted to convince the south that in his administration the South was to be treated as a genuine and equal section of part of the Union and I think he's accomplished that now but at some cost to some perhaps great cost. So I think that that situation has not been handled you know as well as it could have been.
But the blunders mentioned most often where the Supreme Court nominations of Judge Clement Haynsworth and Judge G Harold Carr as well. Art Buchwald comments. And that is very one of history but a moment here that we were born. Marcus childs I should say his Supreme Court nominee in the rejection of Clement Haynsworth by 15 coding. How many was it 17 Republican 70 members of your party voted to get rid of that I think is the most conspicuous. Don Obrador for well the most outstanding dramatic it was a last minute for me and William as white again I thought to myself not necessarily a problem with the judge to Haynesworth
but the fact the administration had not been more aware of his alleged conflicts of interest was a blunder. All right I think no matter who they are so to speak one day longer. In short I think that he has been remarkably successful. O badly there are two major areas which are crucial for these newsmen and anybody else in measuring how well a president has done what if any has been the president's most significant act and what has happened to the president's personal popularity. These journalists propose several most significant acts. Here's David Broder as well as from his point of view the ABM vote was perhaps the most important victory and in 1969 he's had most success in the sort of psychological area of sort of restarting a sense that there is a government in
Washington. We amass white both strictly military sense defense sense and also in the international political sense I think had he not insisted upon and wanted the ABM. He could not possibly even negotiated settlement with the Russians. The Drummonds first Jaffery then his father Roscoe. I would say his Nov. 3 was in the room before you got no speech where he first spoke out as president giving his reasons for his withdrawal plan. I think that was that was a high point. It was a rallying point. I think the early and venturesome advocates of major welfare reform represents a high point in in in the record of the administration in domestic affairs. So I would supplement the Viet-Nam thing with that. I think that the quick and alert way the
president took hold of the environmental issue is another example. Those were four of the Washington Post more quote hawk like columnists. They were the only newsman who spoke approvingly of President Nixon's position on the anti-ballistic missile system and his November 3rd speech. Several of the other newsmen mentioned the president's welfare proposal. Here are Tom Braden and Frank Mankowitz. I think the welfare program is something I personally think is a very good program and I think you probably understand a piece of legislation that he said that. Also if I was a lover of nothing else he said that our president just on welfare 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 had some things to it that probably don't have to it could be quite a significant significant change. And Rowland Evans I think the Family Assistance Plan is a
radical innovation. More so than has ever been put forth by a Democratic president or seriously in the Democratic Congress. I think that this has shown that the way you draft it that shows a certain skill. And I wanted us to take a chance and I think that Bill is going to be passed. I think that was a an example of one of the few examples of what what he's done legislatively other newsman mentioned different things. Marcus Giles one of the good one of the things that he did a very constructive way was he. He went farther than any president has ever gotten in a proposal for Planned Parenthood and birth in this country and in the aid we give to other nations. This was a remarkable document. If you want if you want to read you know the two most important breakthrough. I think it is in the revised China policy and the effort to open
up a real avenue of exchange with the communist China. Now I'm not at all sure that a Democratic president like thank you would have we could have done would have had the screams of outrage from groups O types with so-called China lobby piece but all the rest of it. Now President Nixon has begun and I think it is very important. Joseph Kraft I think the series of steps taken to cut the defense budget really very very significant defense budget will be done. Maybe do not. It's very it's a very very big card. Finally Art Buchwald great for what we have to hold our breath. Now a columnist look at whether Richard Nixon has established a good political base for
himself. As you'll see there was why disagreement. First Marcus Giles I think he's made a lot of progress in that respect. Back during his first year I think he's shown that he understands the current tides of opinion that there is a kind of right great movement. I think his people those people very close to him are talking about at the end of this first year they're talking about establishing a centrist position in politics moving a little to the right a little to the left in a centrist position. Is that pushing a base that will last not for just one term or two year terms or three but first year. Roland Evans I think he's done well in the south. I don't think to add to the question nationally I don't think he has made. Very strong political alliances the media has a William ass white.
I think it's a pretty rare for 97 to be a remarkably unlikely. David Broder all the objective evidence is that he has built up his personal standing in terms of approval of him and the job that he's doing. Also some evidence not yet conclusive that he maybe is expanding the base for the Republican Party. And Dano would dorper I don't know about the strength of it. You know somebody should want to turn a campaign supporter election was about a mile wide about an inch deep. I think that that's true to considerable degree. The president's style is revealed in the number of ways just as it was once characteristic of Lyndon Johnson to whip up a shared and show reporters a large scar in his belly. It was also once characteristic of John Kennedy on the last day of his presidency to refuse to put on a cowboy hat he was given in
Texas and to make a joke about it. It helps to compare a president with a man who held the office before him. It also helps to think of some characteristic action both as chief executive and as an individual. And finally it helps to look to see if his administration is an open or closed one. These 12 journalists agree a surprising number of times. Most of the disagreement about Richard Nixon centers on whether or not he is much like Lyndon Johnson. Here's some of the newsman who think Mr. Nixon is not like Mr. JOHNSON. Here is Tom Braden. It seems to me that is 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 slipped into a dry lie Jie has made it clear a break between his own conduct in office and that of his predecessor David Broder The two are different and the differences seem to favor Richard Nixon for a different man
and it's an example of a way in which Nixon has sort of studied what has happened and profited from it he has caused a lot of as a way to set up a contrast with with the Johnson style government it's much less personalized it is much less flamboyant kind of government. It's a much less. Repressive government in terms of the effort to control information and activities of those who are working for the press. Buchwald doesn't think the two are alike. But his analysis doesn't complement either man. John Grady amended we've been with you for about everything we do in writing and it doesn't have much you know I don't think you're very strong believer or veneer and Marcus Giles I think they're both very skilled politicians but in quite a
different way. But for calculating restrained withdrawal and then there are those news men who see at least a few similarities. Here is Rowland Evans talking about some ways in which the two presidents are alike. As president he was vice president he was in the Senate. Johnson was all of those things I think in a way that. They have similarities both are secreted men. Chalmers Roberts a lot of the rhetoric sounds Johnson and Jeffrey Drummond I mean both of them have fine minds but William S. White didn't talk about any differences. Rather he concentrated on describing similarity. Both are really. Mr. Nixon I think profoundly interrupted Mr. Johnson was largely integrated in spite of the image of the backslapping and all that as a person.
I think that the second similarity they both came from rather rugged private background came up the hard way. So this big surge similarity they have both had to suffer enormous abuse. Often I thought almost always I thought of Mrs. Johnson's case on Justified and very often unjustified in Mr. Nixon's case and I think finally they're similar in that they are both intuitive known organization types of politicians sort of vest pocket politicians. That is to say each man caucus is really in his own hat. Neither has a great deal of real respect for organizational politics or for committees or. Commissions or marching here and there and yonder.
Yes they are quite alike. Finally here is Don Obrador for his announcement. They're both men who were caught up in the political atmosphere of Washington and they're both problems. Their style is very very different. Johnson with his Texas flamboyant persona always seems a little bit larger than life and I want to build I think through that direction because of the way he operates somehow seem smaller than mine. A presidents style is difficult to sum up in a single word or phrase or even a single view. Each newsman had something different to focus upon. Here is Joseph craft. I don't think President Nixon is that difficult a man to understand but I think President Nixon is a man who is very much the creature of the forces around them and the forces around him are extraordinarily complex. So one would not expect to have a
simple direct monochromatic impression of the president. Nixon himself seems to me to be a very fluid person he is not a guy it seems to me who has bedrock. Commitments he doesn't think of himself as as I and in a way he thinks of himself as a centrist as a man who is between forces at play and he positions himself with respect to other people rather than with respect to a vision of the truth or or even a potent objective. If Kraft finds the president a creature of the forces around him and fairly fluid David Broder is impressed with a different side of Richard Nixon. There is not a next kind of quality of spontaneity that you find in most people. He does very little I think that is not calculated. Most politicians are calculating men but most of them don't practice their politics 24 hours a day is next and here is Art Buchwald's viewpoint. We're good having Bing but were you more
like a warrior. You know very well integrated reality right. Warming to have I think. How are Rowland Evans feels the president's style is like his politics I think he's basically a conservative. Jeffrey Drummond tells how the president strikes him cool. A man you can trust a man who is not excitable or excited but is yet concerned and working hard at his job. A man in whom you can have confidence I think that's what he tries to project to the public and I think that's what he does. Yet another image of Richard Nixon from Chalmers Roberts. You know there's a Nixon image to many people in this country this is a man of no principles and no convictions. People of felt that way. In 1960 was
to go around saying would you buy a used car from this man. I still feel that way. A lot of them. Perhaps most of them. He's a very difficult. Man to understand. Perhaps Don Obrador for of all the newsman has the most startling view of the president all of us have AS. T.S. Eliot wrote one of the poems is a face to meet the faces that you meet. We all have a. Face looking out on the world but maybe different from some other part of ourselves. Mr Nixon seems to have more than most Arab life because the cartoonish type which drew him with a lot of masked men behind a mask and he does present a different aspect of yourself to different people and this is a bit of a mystery about what's really but I think. When you open.
Last door to the last row we were in a fire was the real essence of Richard Nixon. Nixon once told Stewart Alsop he didn't register it with anybody. He felt negative. He also said that he would your family he said not even with my family. I asked the columnist of Richard Nixon seemed to be as Eric Goldman once called him a chairman of the board sort of president who sits back and listens to everybody and makes his decisions with that sort of assistance. Two of the clever responses came from Frank Mankowitz and then from Roscoe Drummond. Well I think Chairman of the board is not a bad. Not a bad description of how he perceives perceives the presidency except that I suspect chairman of the executive committee might be more appropriate. Corporate analogy. You know the famous story of President Lincoln that when
he took a crucial vote in the cabinet and every member of the cabinet voted no and he said Ah and he said The ayes have it. Well that's the way the president functions. There are only three members of the cabinet that were actively supporting President Nixon's program for welfare reform. But they are he said it is this administration an open one. The question was answered in several different ways and there was not much agreement. First one says it's closed. Then another sees it is open. Here Marcus chiles and then Chalmers Roberts. No I don't think you get that from about him. This is the this is a closed world. I don't think he has been as accessible. As some other presidents have been in that sense. As far as administration is concerned it's obvious that. He has led a lot of official speak out.
Expressing different views differing opposing views and his papers are reported. In that sense it's been a little more open. At least in terms of the discord that's reached the public and say the Johnson administration because Johnson tried to keep the lid on and did fairly successfully more abuse Rowland Evans then Frank Mankowitz and Tom Brady when balanced against Johnson. Kennedy even Eisenhower. Certainly Truman and Roosevelt his contact with the press are abysmally few and far between. The information is more accessible in the people and the people are not all that inaccessible. At least we've had no trouble getting information we want people answer your calls they call back cabinet officers are accessible within reason I mean you're not going to call them up and go right over and talk to them a half an hour later but dull talk. I would think they're much more open than the Johnson administration but more often than Johnson and more often than
most people who were there to see the men were here all the time through administrations every thought this one would be. Yeah. Here is Joseph craps analysis. There are two senses in which you can use the word open access to information I have myself never found out a serious problem a because I don't ask good question but I have never found it seriously difficult to get information out to get to see officials. And I find that with the exception of the president himself I've been able to get to see when I wanted any official I want to say and that scar I wouldn't call them at all but I think it's a closed administration in the sense that that the president has isolated himself that he has insulated himself from the main tides of public and even of government opinion. And in that sense it seems to me to be very close to this monopoly ministration that is instinctively responsive beats to the pulse of of the platypus. Obviously these men were talking about different aspects of the administration but on one subject there was universal agreement. The usual newsman's complaint that the president
is not holding enough news conferences. We have had them and he said What is it only seven or eight if the president doesn't have press conferences he's had five or six press conferences I mean problem I have with him he doesn't have nearly enough. Well he doesn't have any press conferences only have four five maybe Roland that maybe six seven toward the end of the interviews I asked each newsman to judge the president's overall impact on the country. You heard how reluctant they were to make any predictions about how Mr. Nixon will be remembered. But they did make evaluations in other ways. Was it possible I wondered for the president to ask the nation to lower its voice and at the same time to initiate strong potentially divisive actions. Is there a contradiction here. Here's some of their answers. Art Buchwald a veteran friend davening. The best in terms of getting nothing and you don't get back
bagging matic you damn boy you have got to do anything that event you want to avoid that mean nothing happening Jammer's Roberts knowing your voice is listening to reason is a popular concept especially after the frenetic years of. The Johnson administration. That's not to say however that the mere act of lowering your voices is going to resolve anything. It doesn't resolve a damn thing it only opens up. The possibility of having a dialogue to resolve some of these things. And there the dialogue has barely begun next and been very lucky in the cities there were no great disasters in the cities this summer. But none of the urban problems have been resolved. They're just as bad as they were. And Mark is Giles. He had failed to take aggressive active leadership
for the programs that need to be done. But I say just the other day of the Haitian president and the fact that well use all the rhetoric you want just so long as it doesn't pass and Tom Braden and Frank Mankowitz. If you have good news for the nation which you really want to achieve as we were identified when I was a volunteer Roosevelt you can lower your voice. The president is the only leader of the people with a multitude of voices to be sure but to really rally the people behind some cause. Mr Nixon is not only a silencer as you know we want to in his view I think this is what he thinks the country wants right now he may be right but here's the way Joseph crap sees the question. Yeah I'm not sure this is a time for strong action. This is not the moment for the Lions to ruin it all so I would think I would not falter much. Another way that you might begin to determine the effect of President Nixon at least so
far is to ask the columnists if Richard Nixon has changed the direction in which the country has been moving. Jeffrey and Roscoe Drummond we've quieted down a good deal. I think the temperature of the country's been changing and I think that that the very feeling that the very recognition that in the last six or nine months of the Johnson administration we were we really had a psychological crisis of being in government and I don't think that psychological crisis exists anymore and I think that that probably is one of the very important accomplishments of the president. Don Obrador he's lowered the velocity of American politics Frank Mankowitz and Tom Braden because the country is far less divided there was a year ago partly by the technique of coming here and the presidency which I
de-escalating the president nobody just angry at projections and in judging markets Chiles I think yes some degree damp don't protest rather than talk about it. So I doubt that off a lot of the left. Maybe that's the message that I think. The way William asked White I think it is true that the country is less divided. Mr Rowland Evans I think he's moved to the right. I think he's allowed the country to move him and White House and top policies of the federal government to the right. Not not to securely far yet. Art Buchwald there I think then you're thinking of but I don't quite agree that in the beginning no morning because it didn't you. I consider that very dangerous that body of
evidence that a lot of Mr. demagoguery are hurting her. And finally David Broder comments on what he thinks has happened to the country. I think he's that and that is a not inconsiderable achievement. You know that I think it was probably necessary to do that to some extent I think it is true that this this country gets what it what it needs or deserves in the way of political leadership. For example I mean it's only 10 years going to the election with Mr. Nixon was involved. You had somebody elected on running on a slogan that it's time to get the country moving again. Well it's inconceivable that in 1968 anybody could have been elected on a promise. To speed up the file the process of social or political sense you know I think kind of leadership style that you have does seem to be a more response even though most of these news men protested in the beginning of this program that it was much
too early to predict how history will judge Richard Nixon. A few journalists went on to offer predictions anyway. Here is William ass white with a long term view. I think it's unlikely that Mr. Nixon in the long run will be seen as anything other than a success or that Joseph Kraft has another prediction. My guess is that they will judge him as a transition president not a not a leading major figure but someone who kept the game going. First of all I see none of the qualities in him that suggest that he's going to be a massive figure or a heroic man and secondly my impression of the way the world is is that we are in transit from the past but it's clearly dissolve NG and foreign policy where. The American dominance was so strong and domestically where foreign policy was so strong got that those conditions are clearly dissolving and we don't exactly
know where we're heading so that it seems to me we have a transitional situation and appropriately transitional mayor and now Frank Mankowitz and Tom Braden offer a short term prediction subject to many qualifications. If there's no inflation serious enough to cause serious dislocation if 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 Frank's list list of gifts turned out negatively that he'll suffer and we'll be sorry that we did not have a leader that we had a balance here instead. But if they join a positive way then everybody I think was right and it will be like that. It is apparent that while these news men do disagree and they do demonstrate that the Washington Post has a balanced editorial page the
disagreement does not always depend on whether the newsman is a conservative or liberal. There is a clear difference between those news men who favor the American presence in Vietnam and those who don't. But that was the only clear difference as a group they like historical perspectives. Mr. Nixon's Quaker background was mentioned several times for example the newsman are realists. Instead of talking about surprises or ideal worlds they deal with facts and with what is more than likely going to happen. There are no easy conclusions to draw from what these journalists have said about the president. Perhaps his Cambodian decision as much as anything else and Richard Nixon's presidency will affect his reputation and these journalists we're talking about Richard Nixon. Before that time. Furthermore there were many disagreements over such basic issues as whether the president displays a strong moral purpose or whether he has established a good political
base for himself. But there were several themes which seemed to run throughout the analysis of most of the news men and they should be pointed out. The first was that the country seemed in need of change. And Richard Nixon for the several reasons you heard may be able to do more for the country right now than a Democrat. Second the president is an intelligent man and he is not evil but neither is he an overwhelmingly strong leader. Third there was a tolerance for presidential blunders. All these journalists could name several mistakes they didn't find them alarming or even on expected. Apparently these journalists have watched too many presidents in action. To expect a perfect job fourth his minimum income plan is highly respected. Fifth his personality may or may not be complex. His style however has been to stay out of the limelight as much as possible and to appear as unlike President Johnson as he can.
Twelve columnists take a look at Nixon
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
If you have more information about this item than what is given here, or if you have concerns about this record, we want to know! Contact us, indicating the AAPB ID (cpb-aacip/500-028pgw5q).
Washington Post columnists (among others) examine Nixon's first year in office - David Broder, Roland Evans (Evans and Novak) Art Buchwald, Chalmers Roberts, William S. White
Public Affairs
Politics and Government
Media type
Embed Code
Copy and paste this HTML to include AAPB content on your blog or webpage.
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: X70-2 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 01:00:50
If you have a copy of this asset and would like us to add it to our catalog, please contact us.
Chicago: “Twelve columnists take a look at Nixon,” University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed October 25, 2021,
MLA: “Twelve columnists take a look at Nixon.” University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. October 25, 2021. <>.
APA: Twelve columnists take a look at Nixon. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from