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September 01, 1968 - Image 4

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1968-09-01

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

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Seventy-seven years of editorial freedom
Edited and managed by students of the University of Michigan
under authority of Board in Control of Student Publications

The impotence of politics

420 Maynard St., Ann Arbor, Mich.

News Phone: 764-05521

Editorials printed in The Michigan Daily exp ress the individual opinions of staff writers
or the editors. This must be noted in all reprints.



Fear strikes out:
The Leonid Brezhnev story

THE REPORTS of a possible Soviet in-
vasion of Romania shows that Moscow
has by no means finished what she set
out to do in Czechoslovakia.
Moscow fears that her control over the
East European satellites has come into
jeopardy. Romania fell away from the
fold after their mutual twenty-year
treaty expired this year. Czechoslovakia
also fell away this year.
But in the Soviet eyes, Czechoslovakia
presented a clearer threat. The Romanian
"defection" did not m a r k the sort of
loosening in the internal control over its
people that occurred in Czechoslovakia.
Nor is Romania as strategically important
to -the Soviets as Czechoslovakia.
The Soviet regime decided to act be-
cause they feared that a liberal regime in
Czechoslovakia rmight somehow give rise
to demands for a liberal administration
in Russia which could threaten their own
THE RUSSIAN FEARS are selfish ones.
It is hardly convincing to argue that
what happens in Czechoslovakia threat-
ens Russia's internal security. T h i s is,
however, the argument of the Moscow re-
gime - just as Washington argues that
Vietnam is a threat to U.S. security.
It is not likely that Brezhnev would be
toppled because a liberal regime existed
in Prague. But Brezhnev, like so many
other leaders, feels that it is easier to
fight change than to adapt to it.
Until now Romania did not present this
fear to the Soviets. President 'Ceausescu
held a tight rein in Bucharest. The Ro-
manan press did not antagonize the Sov-
iets like the Czech press. In short, Ro-
mania showed no signs of change that
would threaten the Brezhnev regime.
Another reason why the Soviets chose
to act in Czechoslovakia is again an "in-
ternal security" one. Czechoslovakia is
located between the Soviet Union and the
countries of the West. The Russians would

be as amenable to having Western influ-
ence in Prague as the U.S. was to having
missiles in Cuba.
Even more important than that is the
fact that Czechoslovakia is pouth of East
Germany. The Soviets dread. a spread of
the Czech autonomy to East Germany;
where Walter Ulbricht already fears he
has trouble on his hands from the West.
Germans. Aud Moscow is just as afraid of
-a united Germany as the East Germans
Or the other hand, Romania is safely
nestled away from the West German
menace. Her position does not play on the
paranoias of the Russian quest for self-,
With Ulbricht playing on t h e Soviet
anxieties, the Soviets felt they were forc-
ed to act in Czechoslovakia. They choso
the method of armed, invasion - which
worked so effectively in Hungary in 1956.
A ND SO FEAR strikes out once again in
the camp of the world powers. This is
a fear so great that the Soviets will risk
the abuse of world opinion to keep the
forces of change momentarily at bay.'
The Soviets must realize that they are
trading long-term success in East Europe
for what they perceive as short-run gain.
The opposition that they met from the
Czechoslovakian people must indicate to
them that they never can hope to exer-
cise lasting influence in Czechoslovakia
Can this need for self-conservatism,
this deep sense of anxiety in the psyches
of world powers,; be so great that reason
is obscured to the extent that the repeat-
ed use of force in the name of internal se-
curity should continue to govern the for-
eign policies of the Soviet Union and the
United States?
A Russian invasion of Romania would
give added evidence that fear rather than
reason is the deciding factor in the main-
tenance of power.

Associate Editorial Director
IT'S BEEN THREE days since
the tumultuous Democratic Con-
vention ended and I suspect none
of us have yet recovered or have
even begun to think cogently about
its implications.
And I .find that strange. For
except for the enormity of the
sadism of the Chicago police noth-
ing unexpected happened. The
whole convention went exactly as
The convention was especially
disheartening to me because in a
perverse way, the political conven-
tion is one of my favorite institu-
tions. Where some have clung
nostalgically to youthful enthusi-
asms for the Hardy Boys or pin
ball machines, I can't fully re-
linquish my grab-bag of memories
of conventions past.
McCarthy electrified a n o t h e r
Democratic Convention when he
valiantly begged the assembled
delegates, "Donot reject this man
who made us all proud to be called
In those days when demonstra-
tions were neither fashionable nor
worth suppressing, I remember the
long lines'of marchers who circled
the convention four or five abreast
and chanted, "We Want Adlai."
The 1964 Democratic Conven-
tion was held at Atlantic City, the
Miami Beach of the Coney Island
set, and there was the old Hubert
Humphrey and his unforgettable
litany, "But not Senator Gold-
My Stevenson memories have
long been suspect because prag-
matists seized upon the McCarthy
speech of 1960 as a prime example
of a kind of death wish among the
party liberals. The whole 1960
Stevenson movement w a s a
groundswell of those who cared
more for the glorious battle and
the grand gesture than they actu-
ally cared about the substance of
FOR THOSE OF US who relish
lost political causes, there prob-
ably has not recently been a con-
vention to match the Gone With
the Wind flavor of this week's
Chicago extraveganza.
First there was Abe Ribicoff,
that mildly liberal party regular
from John Bailey's Connecticut,
livid in his denunciation of Chi-
cago's Mayor Richard Daley.
The Ribicoff speech was also
full of a kind of moral fervor, the
earnestness of a pragmatist in a
rare moment of utopianism, as the
Connecticut Senator conjured up
the different America that would
blossom if somehow George Mc-
Govern were elected President.
But as pragmatists k n o w
speeches likeRibicoff's or the
symbolic nomination of Julian
Bond by the indefatigible Wiscon-
sin delegation - which only had
their microphone turned on dur-
ing roll calls-do not add up to
convention votes.
Humphrey was not nearly as sig-
nificant as the rejection of the
mildly worded peace plank by a
vote of 3-2. For the rejecting of
the peace plank explains that
Humphrey was nominated sole-
ly because he's LBJ's chief cheer-
There is something profoundly
frightening, if not unexpected, in
the Democratic Party who have
the political role of combatting
bellicose anti-Communism affirm
ing the domino theory.
The rejection of the Vietnam
plank can be seen as the end of
a long struggle which perhaps be-
gan with the teach-in on this very
campus in early 1965 and con-
tinued until the last quixotic hours
of Eugene "I was there in the
snows of New Hampshire" Mc-

Carthy's presidential race.
A LARGE CHUNK of the aca-
demic community, much of the
mass media, the Foreign Relations
Committee of the Senate, and
most of the liberals within the
Democratic Party have been wag-
ing a long and furious campaign to
convince the country of the folly
of the Vietnam War.
It's now time to admit that
this vast educational effort has
been largely a failure.
There have been many denun-
ciations that the convention's pro-
cedures were not democratic. With
Carl Albert in his incredible rasp
only recognizing motions from
Mayor Daley, 'it is incontestable
that the hand-picked Johnsonian
politicians wvho ran the show did
their utmost to stifle dissent.
But unfortunately this doesn't
mean that the results of both
party conventions were not repre-
sentative of the people.
IT'S ALL TOO easy tovisualize
the legions of voters who stood be- Y
hind Congressman Wayne Hays of
Ohio as breathed forth fire and
damnation in his defense of the
To Hays and the millions of
voters for whom he speaks there
is a somehow mystical linkage be-
tween a bombing halt, another

BUT THE FEARS of the Amer-
ican people are reflected in their
political parties and cause both
the Democrats and Republicans
to be the staunch opponents of
change. The only difference be-
tween them is the lengths to
which each will go to oppose it.
The Republicans' conservatism
is so thorough-going that they do
not even have the desire to take
power to oppose" change.
For the Republicans are so set
in their ways that they enjoy
their low-key role of being the
minority party in America. Act-
ually ascending to power would be
as traumatic an experience for
most of them as the triumph of
revolutionary socialism. So they
quietly and sedately nominate
Richard Nixon and subconscious-
ly pray that he will lose.
The Democrats revere the
status quo far more than the Re-
publicans because they were in-

cism is that basically
are too lazy and not
apt to be sadistic.

We are impotent because those sensitive to the g r o I e s q u e nature of
America's policies, who still nurture the hope of somehow seizing the reins
on the future are only a small minority of America. And we s It o w little
signs .of being able to convert the unwashed masses.

most people
that often

strumental in creating it. And
they-are interventionist and full-
blooded enough to go to the bar-
ricades in defense of it against
the dread legions of change.
Once politics was in 'the van-
guard of the forces of change.
once politics took upon itself the
role of reshaping the nation, once
politics should have been the
arena for idealists with a dream.
Today gleefully responding to
and inflating the fears of the peo-
ple, politics has abdicated this
difficult role.
What change that comes, and
in modern society it comes rapid-
ly, springs fully grown from the
labs of the scientists and the as-
sembly lines of our giant corpora-
It is not that politics lacks the
institutional ability to shape the
future of America. Rather it .is
the sad truth that the American
people lack the will to master
their, own future. Instead they
sit at their television sets and
let themselves be tossed by the
winds of unplanned change.

ALL THIS BEARS a sinister
message for the disenchanted who
have labored to recapture the
Democratic Party. And for those.
who never had any hope or in-
terest in the Democratic Conven-
tion as a medium of change and
regarded Eugene's merry band as
just another voice of the Estab-
This is the message of Chicago:
We Are Impotent.
We are impotent because those
sensitive to the grotesque nature
of America's policies, who still
nurture the hope of somehow
seizing the reins on the future are
only a small minority of America.
And we show little signs of being
able to convert the unwashed
Sure we can lick our wounds
and talk about how much we
have improved the democratic
workings of the Democratic Party.
The more pragmatic can still
dream of Ted Kennedy in '72. But
no man is a messiah and no single
election can change the intrac-

tible nature of the American na-
tional character.
We can join with Marcus
Raskin or Eldridge Cleaver and
talk of new parties and local or-
ganizing. But there is never any
talk about how we can win elec-
tions if we can't even control the k
old party. Or even an explanation
of whom we are organizing for
The few genuine romantics left
can gamely talk of going to the
barricades. But each confronta-
tion merely gives the police
another excuse for sadism. Each
time a few skulls are cracked and
a few pockets empty for bail
money. But little changes.
NONETHELESS the air around
this campus will soon be full of
individual and collective explana-
tions of how they are going to ex-
press their dissent at the polls in
November. Many will be dissuaded
from even these little electoral re-
bellions by the spectre of electing
Richard Nixon.
And the Democratic loyalists
are right when they argue signifi-
cant, if somewhat outmoded, dif-
ferences do exist between Hum-
phrey and Nixon.
While Hubert Humphrey's ac-
ceptance speech seemed callously
contrived, it also contained a few
nuggets of the liberal hero of
1958 which are available nowhere
else on the political scene.,
There was a sincere plea for
arms control 'and disarmament
presented against the spectre of
nuclear war which is unlikely to
ever come from the mouth of
Richard Nixon or Lyndon John-
son. The -old Hubert even solemn-
ly swore on his scout's honor that
when he' was captain of the team
his Vietnam policy would somehow
be different.
What this all adds up to is the
sad admission that perhaps Hubert
Humph'rey is the' best that the
American system can come up
with either now or in the future. %
All this is not a prelude or. ex-
plaining why I believe we should
play lesser-evilism and work for
Humphrey's election or even
tacitly support it through inaction.
This is not a clarion call for
meaningfull inaction either.
The fact that weare impotent
is not all, that matters. For I dis-
agree with the pragmatists who
believe that gaining power is the
only goal. For there is something
terribly tragic about the man of
deep conviction who tiptoes to
power holding back his dreams ,
because he knows an uncompie-
hending people will not approve.

.0.. trustworthy, loyal, helpful.


STUDENTS FOR A DEMOCRATIC So- truthfulness, a n d clean
ciety seems to have finally replaced throughout the Boy Scou
communism as the number one threat to hard to remember muc
the American establishment, philosophy. If the Boy S
Six police cars, eleven police officers, ing their commitment to
and a helicopter were used on Friday to they might be expected to
'keep five SDS members from going ahead courage he diverse politi
"with the contracted use of a local Boy tected by the constitution
Scout camp for a weekend retreat. It is more likely that
Despite protestations throughout t h e are following the nation
country that police forces are underman- political panic. The Boy
ned a n d underequipped, Washtenaw demonstrating confidenc
County 'seems ready to meet the chal- ings of the democratic s
lenge. How often does a group of five stu- demonstrating the fear
'dents going to a retreat get to be followed constitutional form of d
by a helicopter? sufficient to protect the
And could any ordinary group of citi- from the moralor econon
zens get' more than two policemen and minority opinions.
one police car per person to prevent them
from trespassing? Perhaps it was antici- jF THE POLICE are no
pated that the SDS 'spirit was so conta- suppress opinions dis
gious that the students would have to be Boy Scout officials (altho
carried away in separate cars with one in Chicago, it might see
policeman on either side of each of them. doing their part), the Bo;
as individuals can augn
SINCE THE EXPLANATION for the can- cratic system by the pett
cellation of the contract to use the radicals.
grounds was justified on the grounds that The speed and the stre
SDS was opposed to "everything the "Boy action of the Boy Scouts i
Scouts of America stands for" this is an contract for an SDS retr
appropriate time to search b a c k into an indication of their la
childhood memories and try to remember in the value of their {ow
just what the Boy Scouts do stand for. doms.
Despite all the admonitions to loyalty, -MARG
presLundi,1 le deluge

nliness scattered
it handbook, it is
h of a political
couts are pursu-
national loyalty,
o protect and en-
cal opinions pro-
the Boy Scoutz
al trend toward
Scouts are not
ce in the work-
ystem. They are
the American
emocracy is not
ruling majority
nic untest fed by
t authorized to
tasteful to t h e
Dugh from events
rm that they are
y Scout officials
ment the demo-
y harassment of
ength of the re-
n breaking their
eat can serve as
ck of confidence
n political free-

ture looks no less bleak than the
present and the ability of man to
manage his own affairs seems
to be bordering on the nil, I per-
versely suspect that there is some-
thing deeply important in our
petty protests.
Moving speeches by a Ribicoff,
convictions important enough to
have your head cracked for are
relevant, if only because they
deny to our leaders any moral
justifications for their actions.
The value of the moral.....................:.:. dimen-
sions of protest is not a conten-
tion I would try to justify ration-
ally, rather it is a sneaking in-
trusion of faith in a cynical
world.But somehow it still seems
-Daily-Andy Sacks important.
Cronkite scre

Thire fury of


TiE MOST surprising aspect of
the Democratic National Con-
vention was not the violence in
the streets or the dissension in
the Amphitheatre, but the unre-
lenting criticism of the police and
the convention procedure by the
news media.
Who could have watched the
convention and forget Walter
Cronkite's attacks on Mayor Da-
ley, and his angry references to
"thugs" on the floor of the con-
And who could forget the angry
reactions 6f a' dozen usually pas-
sive newsmen, as they dropped all
pretense of neutrality and used
words like "brutality," "police
state," and "repression?"
Through the camera eye of the,
national networks; the nation wit"
nessed this brutality; thepeople
were shocked by what they saw.
They believed Walter Cronkite
and Chet and David.
the national media, and their local
newspapers and commentators is
not surprising. For most of the
population, the mass media are
the only source of information
on current events. The ONLY
Thus the average American is
left to form his opinion in the
mold of Eric, Severeid or Hugh
Downs, whether he knows it or
What makes the incidents in
Chicago so memorable is that for
once, the news media across the
nation, including newspapers, ra-
dio. and television, were harshly
oposed to the presumed interests

by the journalists with their re-
ports of police extravagances.
Nonetheless, the television spoke
and was believed by millions.
occurance strike to the very heart
of the mass democracy. Public
Opinion is the root strength of the
goverment. Without general pub-
lic consent. national policy be-
comes bogged down in discontent
and meets resistance at every turn.
With it, it is a force behind the
government which turns policy
and opinion into an unstoppable
steamroller which fuels itself with
its own momentum.
The national media, then, are
the greatest single power sepa-
rated from that loose and un-
definable collection of politicians,
military men and industrialists
who must together be called the
national governmental establish-
This establishment, which forms
the policies of government, gains
its legitimate authority from pub-

recent years has been the war in
Five years sego, most Americans
had never heard of Vietnam. Yet,
in only two years, after what must
be called the greatest public re-
lations campaign of all time, the
majority of American people were
induced to support enthusiastically
a costly war to "save" that same
The man who masterminded
this campaign, one LyndonfBaines
Johnson, recognized the impor-
tance of public opinion to na-
tional policy, especially on an
issue like war. So, just as he
sought the consensus" in his
campaign against Barry Gold-
water by claiming that "we seek
no wider war," he later made the
consensustfor the war in the
United States in order to insure
'quick acquiescence to his policy.
created the public consent for a
war which was overwhelmingly
repudiated in the 1964 election is

fluenced or fooled by the Presi-
dent too. And thus, by mid-1965,
Huntley and Brinkley were harking
to the President's call, and mil-
lions of viewers were held in
thrall over their dinner table each
night, as films of the American
soldiers helping the grateful Viet-
namese peasants burst over their
television tubes in glorious color.
AND AS THE WAI careened
along, with its shifting govern-
ments, justifications and strate-
gies, the news media led public
opinion as they served their gov-
But let us not belabor the point
of Vietnam. Suffice it to say that
in that instance, the mass media
was, until recently, the govern-
ment's best friend and the peo-
ple's worst enemy.
National news media-the radio,
the wire services, and particularly
television journalism-has become
a major force behind public opin-
ion, and thus a fantastically pow-
erful determinant of the success
of government policy, and for'that
matter, the very legitamacy of the
government itself.
ONE MAY ASK, then, after the
Chicago experience, what the fu-
ture will bring in the way of har-
mony between the government and
the media.
Were the press incensed only
by the limitations placed on their
own members? Were their com-
ments in retaliation to brutality
to newsmen and cameramen?
Or is this something deeper, a
sudden awakening of frankness in
the face of an obvious travesty
of democracy?
And if this new attitude on the
part of the press is long lasting,


THE DELUGE begins for real on Tues-
Mass meetings of every which-group
will attempt to breathe enthusiasm into,
bright-eyed freshmen. Homecoming will'
take shape and people will ignore it. Fra-
ternities will claim high rush figures and
The Daily will deflate there.
Persons with senior football tickets will
try to sell them at a profit.
Dorm jokes about dorm food will be-
come almost the only topic of conversa-
tion. Three merit scholars and a. budding

genius will sit around a table and say,
"The potatoes were-better last week."
Students who have been told Ann Arbor
is a culture center will buy season tickets
to the concerts in Hill Aud., the discount
being ,too great to resist. Concerts will be
skipped because of the joy of flinging
pizza platters.
FRIENDS of convenience living in apart-
ments will grow tired of conking. Cook-
ing will soon stop.
Graduate students will worry about the

Through the camera eye of the national
networks, the nation witnessed this brutal-
ity; the people were shocked by what they saw.
They believed Walter Cronkite and Chet and


lic opinion. And since public opin-
ion is formed to an overwhelming,
almost exclusive extent by the

not totally clear, Certainly he
used such devices as the Gulf of
Tonkin incident, the resolution

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