A Federal Case; 23
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 am and still producing for the national educational radio network. This week we're going to make a federal case out of another veteran government Watcher in the Capitol. He's Marcus Giles. Washington's contributing editor to The St. Louis Post-Dispatch and the United features syndicated columnist. He is truly a veteran. He's written for The St. Louis Post-Dispatch for 44 years and his little bio sheet that descriptive piece which diligence secretaries work out for anybody who's anybody anywhere. Says that Marcus Giles is one of the ablest and most experienced members of the hardcore Washington press corps. But he's also a veteran in another sense. He looks and talks like he should. If you consult the 1930 movie versions of newspaper men. Mr. Chiles is a very large area looking man who looks
both like a farmer and an English gentleman. He acts like that sort of combination too. He wears an enormous red suspenders. He also talks like he was educated by an upper class New England lady who knew her manners very well. In fact he comes from Iowa. His ancestors were farmers and he went to the University of Wisconsin. He's really a newspaperman of the old school. He has worked hard to know Washington D.C. as a government town very well. He has his proper contacts. The day I met him he was off to a birthday party for Alice Roosevelt Longworth. He is very correct in his profession. He tries to be objective. He doesn't say anything he can't substantiate. You might call him an old fashioned liberal but you might be wrong. He's liberal in many ways if that means being for birth control or better relations with China or more government attention to social programs. But he's not so old fashioned. He's in his late
60s but he doesn't really fall in with either the conservative or the liberal label. In many ways you're going to hear him talking about the president and this administration and how it seems to be shaping up after a year. He works out of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch Washington office so you'll hear some newspaper and reporter noises occasionally in the background. Winston Churchill once spoke of a. Political leader leader's moral purpose being something like the impulse and the image of the ages. Would you say that President Nixon has that kind of moral purpose. No the bad carpenter. I don't know what kind I think it maybe might be divisive. So I think he's a very pragmatic and I don't want to be you know perhaps pragmatic. He's a politician and I don't think you could apply those same words to him. You just use for Winston to talk.
Do you think that you made a distinction then between political and a moral. Do you think that that means it would be fair to say the president's policy is that it's politically motivated more than stemming from a strong moral belief. Well these things are very hard to define. I think I think that. You take Let take a president like Woodrow Wilson. And his determination to keep us out of war which is one of the reasons he won a real election in 19 12 1916 really. Now then completely reversed. This took a high moral tone about the entry of the United States to the world what we were going to save the world for democracy. It doesn't seem to work OK. Now I think that. Probably looking back in hindsight there should have been a moral evaluation as well as a practical and pragmatic way.
And our involvement in Vietnam. If two or three years ago we had suddenly before the great escalation we had just said look let's look at this and see whether this war is first of all morally justifiable and then let us see whether or not it is in America's real interest to prosecute this war. In your estimation do you think that Mr. Nixon has made a philosophically sound judgment to it in his Vietnam policy. I don't know. I don't exactly like those terms used about a president or a politician I think he's made a practical practical and perhaps a workable judgment in the Vietnamization policy. I think it's still to be determined whether or not it will will work. But I think it is. Totally
useful. Again I'll use that word pragmatic philosophically that implies all kinds of things that I don't think ordinarily would apply to the judgments of a president. Some of his critics have suggested that he may be in the sense of double dealing that he is saying one thing and he's talking about Vietnam is Asian and that he's not quite doing that or that in other words that he may be withdrawing troops but not never intended winter all the troops leave some I mean there is any validity to what those critics are saying. The basis for their saying that or not. I think it's probably too early to reach a judgment on that. I think that he wants to disengage the United States from the war because I think as a practical politician he understands that this country is deeply divided and that it is important for him as a president
looking toward 972 to end the war. Now whether that can be done by removing Well the troops. Or whether as his critics and suggest that he intends to leave in 200000 not just daycare and that is a matter that I don't think we can touch. There's certainly a very important book in this respect is one you may have discussed your programs and that is tons of hoops the limits of intervention and in the end of that book after he Dessaix errors and terrible mistakes of the Johnson policy and how the final escalation was frustrated in terms of the two hundred six thousand additional troops that General Westmoreland wanted. He then has a closing passage in which he said in effect a partial withdrawal will not work. It will leave the country just as divided as ever and present us with
the we. Past the big difficulty level of an indefinite What if one hundred thousand is not. I don't know but I say I think it's too early to determine whether the policy we're talking about the president's Vietnam policy there in two important characteristics to Mr. Chiles observations. The first says something about him. The other about Mr. Nixon Mr. Chow says it's too early to tell whether the president is double dealing on Vietnam. You'll hear that kind of reporter's caution being expressed again and again as Chiles speaks. He's not going to be caught really judging the president in case he's later proved wrong. He does say the president has always been pretty much the same Nixon but he won't go further. That would not be being properly objective. Mr. Chiles also said he was uncomfortable with phrases
like philosophically sound. He does think the president is pragmatic and political. Those are words which every other government observer I've met has also used to describe Mr. Nixon whether this strikes you as good or bad. The chances are better than average that the president is indeed a pragmatic and a political man to change the subject for a minute how do you think the president has done in cementing a good political base for himself this year. I think he's made a lot of progress in that respect. Back during his first year I think he found that he is he understands the current tides of opinion that there is a kind of right good 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 and in a centrist position establishing
a base that will last nothing for just one term or two years but terms are three. But first year. Now this of course has been the history of the Republican Party the Republican party rule this country from when was it roughly after the end of the civil war will have very few Interpol's wanted to have a vote until 1929 and the Great Depression. I think this is what President Nixon is aiming at. Has he kept in touch with the various groups in the country and any noticeable exceptions I think perhaps the blacks would be a notable exception. I think he he says he has tried to keep in touch with them but I whether it's been an attempt that failed or whether it's been an attempt that was too hesitant and weak. It's hard to say but I think certainly you could say as a group the blacks have been out of this I don't want to use that word that President Johnson used all the time
consensus but but something like that which President Nixon has been trying to achieve. The president advocated the ABM twice now in a year is also come out for the supersonic sonic transport. He's taken a hard line on student dissent. A lot of other things but those are three kinds of things which which the president has done. What do those actions say about him. Well I think the ABM decision particularly the second one that he brought out in his press conference shortly after the first year I think that this was a very great very greater error in terms of military spending because phase two of the safeguard out of the missile will he said. Will cost about 11 billion dollars and you know what the Pentagon price tag. They always are at least slightly understated. And also
I think this really gets seriously in the way of the nuclear arms to now that I think was a very grave error. Whether it will result in the same kind of controversy that went for what was at least two months last of the last session of the Congress I don't know. Well there's testy again I think this is probably a very grave mistake in terms of. This phrase that you so often ordering our priority is because whatever I forget the amount that he proposed in the budget put into SSP several hundred billion dollars the SSP finally will be used by a fraction of 1 percent of the traveling public who will want to get to London there. But this is two and a half or three hours instead of six hours. And I myself don't see any reason why the taxpayers should. Paid for the cost because the
airplane company is a very small part of the cost. Now I think they can. I think the great centrist majority together I think there is a deep ethnic groups in the white middle class groups like this after all. They go to college. So I think that the level of the Marcus Giles continues to emphasize the president's political shrewdness in this case in forging a new centrist position. He has also cited a few what he calls Mr. Nixon's failures.
Now you'll hear him praising a few actions that aren't mentioned much the president's best proposal he sent to Congress has been. Well I think you know 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. I think that is pollution was or was on the whole health proposal under budgetary and finance 4 billion dollars will go in the a very short way spread out over whatever it is 10 years is needed for this problem and then there's a question of whether the citizens they'd have the money to do this. If you want if you want you know to the most important breakthrough I think it is in the revised China policy and
the effort to open up a real avenue of exchange where the coming is China. Now I'm not at all sure that a Democratic president like thank you would have a record of done there because you would have had the screams of outrage from groups or types with the so-called China lobby piece but all the rest of it. Now President Nixon has begun there and I think it's very important. Do you think he's gone very far toward hoping. Well he's begun. I don't think I could do much more than that they resume those talks in Warsaw and he made other proposals are he secretary of state has made other proposals about trade about cultural exchanges. Now I don't know how far this is going to get that I think that a situation like the revolutionary government is carrying and I not sure how far they will
go. It's biggest thing here on the Hill. Well I should say his Supreme Court nominations have been a failure the rejection of Judge Clement Haynsworth by 15 vote coding. How many of the 17 Republican 70 members of the party voted against that or that I think is the most conspicuous. I think the most tragic ever was the said got out of this mess or it might have been all right because you remember this that it carried out by one vote might have been a right to have had an experimental first day now going in. Second we have very doubtful whether you think he's calmed the country down that's what he said he wanted to do. Well yes in a sense I think that I think people want to believe in it. I think they were pretty fed up with him in the job. And I think they were
very glad to have him. He was awfully noisy around here and I think they I think they want to believe that President Nixon and the Vietnam War that perhaps he could put a damper on inflation. Now this may be a temporary maybe only the first half of the year for him but I think yes there is some degree damp down the protests that were organized. So on and off a lot of the left maybe just yes but that I think that way. Is there a contradiction in the sense between trying to lower people's voices calm them down and initiating a number of strong and potentially divisive actions as present as well of course that's your right. That is the pertinent point.
He has failed to take aggressive positive active leadership for the programs that need to be done in this country and there are very few people who are speaking off about this. One of them is John Gardner who was formerly secretary of health education welfare and is now head of the urban coalition. Who is just beating his breast over the failures of President Nixon to take an aggressive lead for the programs that are so desperately needed to trim it up with rhetoric. Why did I see just the other day in a lead case for the president to the effect that they will use all the rhetoric you want just so long as it doesn't cost and the others may be back before. Or it may be true but still. Anybody that sometimes the impression we have but you but you make very good point. How is it done on appointments do you think he is happy and had a number of so-called failures as any customary presidents first year how do you mean failure. Well he
had little difficulty with John Knowles Willie Mae Rogers. FRANKEN long he was worth that right. Yes of course that I suppose invariably happened I don't think his appointments have on the whole been a very high order. I think one of the things so you take his Cabinet for example except for who is it. Well if Romney vote. Layard had political experience for the most part the others have. Made it since he was governor. But now the appointments have been in order. Who stands out to think mine is Cameron and has as a good man I think Laird is the most realistic and one of the shrewdest perhaps the shrewdest man in the Cabinet I think he's the real author of the ventures had his troubles. And has been the target of an awful lot of.
Attack. I think I think why did Russell CRANE It was the secretary of interior and become head of the other party. Counselor No I haven't you know. Yes I think it's a good yes I think he's an able man and with a very broad background in his sub culture than anything the president handles things like his news conferences. He had enough now we have had them and he said What is it only seven rating to the president and he has I think they're too prepared to stay they're not enough but immediately apparently though they go over with the public. That's why that's probably true. He seems to be able to answer all these questions. But here they are very informative and he seems to hold them always when there's very
little news to make. Why is it that they're not very informative. I mean the follow partly I think yeah it's partly the fault of the men in the what they see the question did also is so today that the regulars are the one who asked the questions and I think that often they're questions that they know the White House press secretary wants and. That's what happens in that. Now Mr. Chiles is going to discuss the president in a number of different perspectives comparing him with others looking at him in the past and even the future. Do you draw any see any similarities between Richard Nixon and Lyndon Johnson. No I wouldn't say there were any conspicuous similarities I think they're both very skilled politicians but in quite a different way. Nixon is but calculating restrained.
Withdrawal. Well I think that is the BEEN is a difficult man to understand as president. He's actually well I don't know whether I understand would be so hurt but here it was. He's a man who discloses very little of his personal life. Or of his personality I'm not sure whether anyone was very much in her life this and. That but the selling of the president night by Joe McGinniss tells us something about. What I'm about is operating me especially. In that book. Joe McGinniss wrote that he was a he had a whole special image that was kind of created for him during the campaign and that and that that wasn't the real Nixon at all there are a lot of Nixon's it would appear there's the people of the data labels too like the old
Nixon the new Nixon allies on that exist much to the other side. Boy Yes I think it's always been pretty much the same except he's changed in the last 10 years. But he certainly changed his 962. And failure when he failed to be elected the governor of California I think that takes an effect. In your law of life. Profitably I think a lot of a lot of that going there. There are two Eric Goldman road ones that that Mr. Nixon has a kind of chairman of the board approach to the presidency he sits back in his cabinet meetings and acts like a chairman of the board other people instead he goes makes all his decisions in private. I think that is true I think the chairman of the board was president I don't know what it would have done she was general of the Joint Chiefs of Staff went right up to the he was the one who said you know they should do this
but I think Nixon I think it rather much more nearly comes to me this is himself in private with two or three close. And I ask you to indulge in a prediction. He would and that isn't on the basis of only a little over a year do you think that he will be remembered. Mr Nixon as a great president has one kind of read Oh it's much too early again to say anything about the had in the first place that depends on events that are still. We can't look at the Book of Death of fate more than two or three months ahead. Some very terrible things could still happen in the world with them. There is so much will depend on whether or not avoid the disaster before. So I would make her a critic. Stylistically do you think it's advantageous it doesn't matter
that he is appears to make his decisions in private. Joe I don't think so. I think he presents a public facade. Well I think I have accepted that the start and that's really what's important because of our reaction. Think there are any important ways in which this country changed the direction of this country not a book. No I think he has to some degree turned off the protester that he would take as one of the most outstanding contributions and I think it very well may be that may be temporary but otherwise I wouldn't be that great. I think my own opinion is weighted much right to try to turn the economy around. I think we could be in for quite a serious recession. Like any other trouble spots. Well there are so many.
I don't know whether the Middle East. Well you know it is an illustration and open one. No I don't think you can use that term about in this closed world. There are degrees of openness. Johnson thought he was running over the administration and then when he got a serious problem of up. He's a good. There was a political scientist called barber who while ago wrote that Mr. Nixon had he in his opinion the capability to move this country in disastrous actions by taking precipitous actions when he was threatened disastrous directions do you think that there's much I don't know with that trait. After all we survived it in terms of the five year that he was that he was alternately Marcus Giles is not optimistic about Mr. Nixon.
He has a laugh that comes out when he's being most pessimistic like when he says We survived Lyndon Johnson. That's not an optimistic view on the other hand. Mr. Giles is not all that optimistic about anything. When I asked him what the trouble spots in this administration were he answered Oh there were so many. His estimate on Vietnam was that the president has done well but only for the moment inflation that Mr. Nixon has badly misjudged and didn't act in time. He hasn't really changed the country much. He is calculating but not really all that difficult to understand by not indulging in predictions and by saying it's too early to tell. Marcus Chiles has painted a picture of this administration that is bleak indeed. This is been a correspondent.
By the National Education.
- 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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Identifier: 69-38-23 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
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