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This is a federal case a weekly show that takes up an issue of government and takes a good look in Washington D.C.. I'm and still the national educational radio network. Executive. This is the last federal case we're going to make out of what goes on in Washington D.C. at least for a while. And so it seems appropriate to end on a note of irreverence and maybe even humor. We're going to listen to Art Buchwald talking about the federal government these days without getting as he says particularly up tight about it. There's a lot that's funny about this man before he opens his mouth. First of all Art Buchwald's outer office is lined with hate mail addressed to him. The man himself is short and round and his features are not awfully well suited to one another. He wears a clothes combination that includes a yellow V-neck pullover a plaid tie and an olive
drab mohair golfing cap. His secretary says he has a lot of other hats too. The view from his office window is on the roofs of a lot of tenements. Buchwald is not a learned gentleman who's been around forever in Washington compared to other columnists who appear to have an impressive number of newspapers something over two hundred three times a week. Buchwald is new. He's been in Washington only since 1962. Also he didn't get a lot of advanced degrees in journalism or government. None in fact Buchwald doesn't hit you with the inhibitions. He doesn't have many either in his columns or his conversations sometimes because of that he seems maybe a little simple. But as you'll hear in a minute Buchwald has some good routes to the heart of whatever matter he's talking about here Buchwald discusses whether his recent fame and fortune has changed his perceptions of government. I haven't changed my outlook on the government but I just more independently can become financially them what advantage you can become of that.
And that's the beauty of having money is that you can be very independent of the government. If you have to be worry about your job then you have to worry about what you say about these people. Then you can be scared. I think fear is mostly dependent on how much you know you have a lot of people who are younger and don't don't care as much about that because they don't have a life to support and stuff. You know I think when you're young you really have great scorn for money. My children a very upset that they're not poor. They feel that I've cheated them out of something. And some of our conversations have to do with how they've been deprived of the beauty of poverty. You know I can argue with me because I was poor myself and retrospect I kind of enjoyed being poor. There's nothing I can do about it. I just keep telling you I'm sorry we have to live with it. Art Buchwald is a curious man. He denies his own success. He
doesn't like to think of himself as having made it in some sense in the establishment by either having a lot of money or by getting invited to the right Washington parties or by having the right sources. So he goes around saying he has no sources. He talks like he knows very little about President Nixon. You'll hear him later saying he just reads the paper. His voice sounds a little bit like Buddy Hackett. He talks in a kind of careless syntax in an accent that's a cross between a Long Island and New England. His wit is raw but when he's being serious he offers basically a rather depressing view of the world. Now you're going to hear him talk about how it is for a humorist these days to look at the people at the top is Richard Nixon and they rip out this Republican administration as a good set up for somebody who writes humor right about you know. He's hardly there I don't think you can get a rise out of Nixon
being funny about Nixon it's just it isn't worth it. I think Spiro Agnew is much easier. See what we have to keep in mind is that you can get humor anger tears and joy. The same people you have to get emotionally involved. I don't think people emotionally involved with Nixon. I think they are mostly involved with act no. They were emotionally involved with Johnson. They were mostly involved obviously with President Kennedy. They weren't so much emotion involved with the Eisenhower have but passions run very deep with certain people and I'm afraid to say that Nixon is not one of the people with a passion. Randy you mentioned Bebe Rebozo quite a bit is that because he has a nice name. Farhi I think it's a funny name. I love the name sort of funny I think buboes it was kind of a fun name. The fact that he's the president's best friend makes it funny to somebody I I
think maybe it was Winston Churchill said that I'm a political leader has to have something like the image in the impulse of the ages. Would you say that the president Hasan has about that kind of moral purpose. I don't think so. I think he's. Love is and probably behaves like a warrior of a fairly good fer you know. Back to bow hunting the type you'd put him up for a good club you know wouldn't have to worry too much about him even though he didn't have the right background. He's made it on his own. When you start to think in terms of great men and great things you just don't think in terms of President Nixon. This doesn't mean that I cannot do great things I think one of the frightening things about President Nixon is the fact that he isn't
thought of as a man of greatness and he isn't thought of at all in any terms you can do a lot of sneaky things that somebody else cannot do. Has he has he changed in the last 10 years. I didn't know before. I've never no I don't I've never met him so I am the last guy to ask that question. I go with a who's ever in the White House and he happens to be the man the White House I don't write much about mainly because there isn't much to write about. I find Republicans are delicate about the Democrats anyway. My kind of more. Bill they seem to be less colorful. I can't think of too many Republicans and very colorful people pushing out of the Democrats that way too often lacking in color. How you are you suffering from lack of material. No because I don't I don't go with personalities and never have been depending on person
as if I was I'd be in trouble. I go with what's happening and Tuesday I wrote a piece about a man who was unemployed and he was doing he was serving his country because we need a certain amount of unemployment and I want to be in anti-inflation drive to go on. Today I wrote about how we pollute our waters by making our clothes cleaner. Sunday I have a contest to decide which will be the problem of 1970 that we're going to elect as the one to worry about turned out to be pollution. But I deal mostly in subject matter and very very little in personalities. You know if you read a story about mathematics and I have x. And also as a representative segment of the story. Now Buckwild gets back to Mr Nixon he compares the president with former President
Johnson and he talks about the implications of some of Mr. Nixon's actions you can see when Art Buchwald talks about the president. He's not too concerned about whether he sounds objective or scholarly or absolutely precise. At one point he says he doesn't think Nixon's an evil man but just a pretty bland fellow. He also says frankly he doesn't believe in the ABM. He thinks it's a very costly thing. Buchwald is honest. He's matter of fact. And he's decidedly not up tight. Do you think he has a a policy for Vietnam that strikes you as being politically motivated or are more in tune with the times or philosophically sound or does he have a Vietnam policy Vietnam past setting American policy which is to get the troops out of there in time for 70. I think he'd like to reduce as much as he can. I really think that he's written the place off.
As far as American guys are concerned mainly because it isn't politically feasible. Now everything he's done is indicated that he really has no intention of going on with this charade because he's talking in terms of our volunteer army. Well if you have a volunteer army I don't think you'd have the bodies to even send of you. Now we have the situation with Laos now in which she's got the whole Congress tied What are we doing in Laos. I don't think he's. His policy is far less foreboding for me than for example President Johnson's. I saw President Johnson on television walking Cronkite and I was frightened mainly because he had twisted history. What he said on the air was not confirmed by the people he talked about.
I think that Johnson was a far more emotional than matter of things and I think he would have done something stupid eventually just to prove he was right. You think that there are any similarities between Johnson and Nixon now. Not many very different kind of men. Yeah I mean. I think Johnson is a great ego Mendis. Kind of weaning logis for about everything he was doing. I think Nixon is doesn't have much ego I don't think he's a very strong believer in themself. It's all up in the air and Johnson domestically get a lot more for this country than Nixon will ever do. Johnson will go down in history as the man got us into Viet Nam and will never get the credit for it.
Nixon will do nothing for this country dev magically But if we get credit for taking us out of Vietnam. Do you think that he tells various factions in this country what it wants to hear. Yeah me neither is he a very political kind of man and that's an extra. Yes. Yeah I think he's the most political one we've had because he's not concerned about any minorities. He's not concerned about what 15 or 20 percent of people think he's concerned about with the other 80 percent thing. And there's the other 80 is right and you know happy we're all speaking for this whoever they are silent majority what have you or are you satisfied here and do a damn thing about the 20 percent or unhappy. So I think that most presidents even though it's an unpopular thing to do will at least try to help lead the
country to do the right thing even though they're not the man. You know Kennedy only been Harry Truman. Eisenhower. Well you're right. Second term. Did a lot of things that weren't popular. Of being president they could do it or at least they felt they could lead the country. Now we have a president who is only concerned apparently with roads like areas going back up to the second and going back and you don't really win very big. But that doesn't mean it's right. You think he's established a good political base. Does this 80 percent as a strong support for him now. You're the first Republican who probably won the file I doubt if you know he's everything he's done has been to appeal to the south now when you have the stuff in your
pocket. You got a pretty good base to start with of the Democrats lose the stuff they go play or try to win the rest of the country. How do you see certain of his actions like like his advocacy of the ABM and the ss t. Those things are different but what do they say to you about the president. Well I think that any president has to really placate the pedagogue. I think if we have a means of placating the pedagogue giving them some sort of a carrot after the war so I think he also feels that it's part of SALT talks to have the have been have so I don't believe it I think it's a very costly thing but I don't consider Nixon an evil man and I don't think he's. Even a bad president in terms of wanting to do with variety.
I think I think you know very bland but probably his friend you know where do you find it amazing. Far pretty pretty much to be expected that someone like him got elected president in this country you know. I know you're not amazed about anything when you have governor of the state you're out axe handles at the Capitol so intimate. What do you think is best. Appointment has been his best guy in his cabinet or somebody is out there. That's a good question because he could appoint a good man and then pull the rug out from under him as he's done with Bob and Finch was presumably the best appointment he made but every time Phil just tried to do something they've screwed up the wire now with people no haven't gotten through to
them yet is that this country is no longer run by Cabinet officers executive branch and run by a mysterious blue hand man in the White House. Face first name list and they have the power and they speak in the name of the president and you can have a secretary of defense or the secretary of AGW and they haven't got half the influence on the president that this little coterie has around the president. They see him every day. They have quite a force to do an awful lot of things without having an affair with him. Are his trusted intimates another guide to mischief makers and they do the damage they also probably do the good but the power is no longer with the cabinet and the power is no longer on the hill until the 15th of preservation and is made up of very few. And in this particular regime a lot of anonymous people
are looking at some of the proposals that have come out of that out of the White House and gone up to the Hill. What's Mr Nixon's best one do you think. And and his his worst blunder. Oh I don't know. I think is a wonder is strangely enough not a serious one in history but at the moment is that with the pointy things where you are as well as boy. One man who wasn't very good with his finances for years getting a clean bill of health and the other one who was kind of a mediocre crowd I think it is really a blunder I think people will forget about it in time but at the time and look back. I don't know what he's done that's been great for us. Turning our legislation I may have to hold our breath pollution
but for me in many ways it's tempting when you're sitting talking to Buchwald in his office with background leaning back jumping up and down on a stubby pipe and stretching about. The think that maybe he's not concentrating or that he's giving me some especially simple answers. But that very simplicity is Brockwell strength both in his columns and his conversation. And once in a while he comes up with something witty and just ride bike now when he talked about holding our breath on pollution. How do you think Nixon stylistically looks how does he do with his press conferences compared to other presidents have had as a writer I think you look at everybody from here on you boy and looks at us. Kind of like a lawyer you know you just go there. You don't go there with any great thrill any great excitement. You get a little more with guns and because you know when Johnson was going to go on you get more with Kennedy.
This again is not necessarily a disadvantage to have a guy who's not that dramatic I don't think you have to have a dramatic person I think it helps to have a dramatic person who's on the right side. But I need to have a dramatic personal listen I consider Bill I know about a person who is not on the right side and I'm afraid that Miss Daggett has a good imagination of an awful lot of people. You know sometimes when the president uses rhetoric which is wit which is criticized on the press I mean he said spoken about being fed up to here and the president came here and we criticize Clifford. He's he's talked about to being one of the four or five best politicians in the world. Things have been oh he seems been picked up by the press and our here's the point you have a president who is everywhere you
listen to printed I just did a study so I don't think anybody in that job could really survive without some of that you know if you and I walk down the street there may just be yours said anything and have everyone write down everything we've said with a pretty bad too. So those are the fettered with the president no problem or so I've been around long enough to know that the president in their own way of painterly here at times and they're always looking for some headline and I think the president kind of goes Are there more communications it's harder and harder for a president to get through to people because they say they're going to cover that one thing he says in a 24 hour day is going to make a story. Is there a contradiction between trying to lower people's voices which is what he said he wanted to do when he
started out and initiating a number of strong maybe potentially divisive actions and pressure as a president. I mean is it impossible to do both. You think right if any break does any good in this country you have to be in terms of getting other people mad. There is nothing that you could possibly do in this country today to benefit people. But if you're going to get a segment of the society mad at you therefore you're going to have shrill voices. If you're going to do anything good if everyone lowers their voices that means nothing's happening. For example during the Eisenhower administration we had a period in which people who had their voices read or nothing else but if you went for a blue ocean you're going to antagonize a group of people. If you go for desegregation you're going to recognize a great group of people pressing
ABM anything so I don't think you can have people lower their voices and do anything decent. The president has been bad. It's been said that he makes his decisions sort of like a chairman of the board is also going to say that he makes his decisions in private a lot. We want to natter on the president doesn't matter you know I think whatever your method of coming to a conclusion that you know. I my dad oh that I'm not an expert on the threat that I you know I don't know I don't see him with me more than one. Well I had a big Nixon watch or would you say though that he's moved the country say in a significant way since he took office and your reading water derives from danger signals which I don't why would you go that very gentle
on certain things like painting notebooks and wanting to see people's film that they didn't show. I consider that very dangerous stuff. They also said that a lot of Mr Agnew's demagoguery is hurting the country and he's doing it very innocently saying somebody has to attack the liberal press wife a lot of baloney of the liberal press Tacony. But so much doubt about the press that they'll believe him. And there's one thing I've found about this government is that you know the biggest mistake would be to believe the government. I'd rather believe the press. You're on sound wrote a very funny column which you you made you made Agnew kind of number one and you said that you know he was on the program. He's going to take he's going to take Nixon as his running mate. Yeah me too. Stronger
personality than than Mr. Nixon. That and it feels to people saying what they want to hear. I'm going to ask you to indulge in a kind of fruitless prediction Perhaps but do you think Richard Nixon is going to be remembered as a great president. Surely that's I don't know what a great president of I don't know if we've got if we're going to think in terms of great presidents. You know we're back in a war for a year they get to their great credit that everybody would just keep get a war every year would be a great president to me but I don't know I think it's too early you know they haven't judged anybody was there anybody in the room that you would call a great president a very good president.
Well I you know I think the lesson here I don't know my president that well all I know is what I read in the like it was a great president and just what people told me you know he went around then I meant you know since you've been looking out that I've been watching and reading you know I think a lot of candy had the potential of being a great president whether that might kill you might have. I think you're right that it was fired by you for the good things you know. That's a pretty important job as chief executive. I don't think either President Johnson of President Nixon is a variance but two very inspiring people who want to get their kids all ready to work for the government. You kind of you saying that the president can be good in different areas they can have good good facets to them good good aspects great emancipator and a lot of that is against what they're
doing searching for the right about it at the same time I am also aware that there's a right going on in this country now if communications are responsible for it to an elected official put him in a job and then start the Iraq setup and stone them to death. I think John Lindsay New York is a beautiful example of that. While he's running he's the fair haired boy as soon as you elect him you just beat it brains and so I think we do this on a national scale too. I don't agree with a lot of things that President Nixon has done but I am not going along with a lot of my left wing pals that have an evil diabolical man I don't think yet and I don't think we have had a president like that. But most of the most of the stuff I read in the papers from most of the first
year said that he was said that you know he hadn't done anything wrong yet are you know he was doing ok so far. Or they were still being gentle I mean he and I had a long honeymoon period. We pretty much know what was left of the lover really you know very low key I think. Well that's his best quality is that perhaps that was the birth well of him. And that's the question. Now I suppose it's tempting to decide after you listen to that ending that you've just spent a half an hour listening to a couple of East Coast liberals. There's this girl mind of yours sits around the laughs while an Art Buchwald calls Richard Nixon a fine American and then adds that he himself is a satirist. Well you're right about the east coast part and the liberal
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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Identifier: 69-38-26 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
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Duration: 00:29:35
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