qt1 t Ntau Datt
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DEAR MR. EX-PRESIDENT:
TUESDAY, JANUARY 21, 1969
NIGHT EDITOR: ROB BEATTIE
A sporting gesture
AMERICANS admire few virtues so
much as sportsmanship, and in the
past couple of months they have certain-
ly been getting their fill of it. The treat-
ment Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon
have accorded each other since the elec-
tion has been, with only minor and iso-
lated exceptions, almost sickeningly
Nixon cleverly scuttled Johnson's inten-
tion to nominate Arthur Goldberg Chief
Justice of the Supreme Court. And in the
eleventh hour Wilbur Cohen committed
the incoming administration to programs
and policies which it dislikes, but from
which it might find withdrawal embar-
rassing. Otherwise all has been, if not
light, at least sweetness.
Certainly the chumminess of Johnson
and Nixon at the inaugural proceedings
yesterday did little to dispel'the image of
a transition graciously executed. And
Nixon's bow to that hoariest of Republi-
can enemies, Franklin Delano Roosevelt,
was a commendable gesture.
Indeed, the good feelings have extend-
ed beyond Nixon's relations with Johnson
to the new chief executive's relations with
his critics. Despite preliminary noises,
Nixon's cabinet appointments will receive
all but unanimous Senate approval. And
those who will be among the President's
unshakable opponents in .six. to twelve
months now counsel "giving Nixon a
THE TROUBLE with this advice is in
discerning what, if anything, it means.
Minds will be open until Nixon begins to
act. Thereafter his policies will be ap'-
plauded or deplored. Open-mindedness
threatens to lose its utility with each
Underlying these pleas for fairness to
the new President is the premise that
Nixon has hitherto given no indication
what paths he intends to pursue. Yet
Nixon through 2 years of public life has
been inclined toward a moderate con-
servatism, and nothing he has said or
done belies a fundamental reversal of his
views. He has appointed Melvin Laird,
who favors more nuclear weapons, secre-
tary of defense, and he has designated
John Mitchell, who wants more wiretap-
ping, attorney general. A realistic read-
ing of these signals allows little am-
Since Nixon's intentions are not veiled
In mystery, no case save sportsmanship
can be made for a waiting game. And
even the sportsman, while suspending
judgment temporarily, must wonder what
to anticipate from the Nixon years, and
how to react to them.
EXPECT THE enactment of plans
more grandiose and radical than
those Nixon haspledged to reverse would
be unfair and unrealistic. Yet to cease
arguing for those programs merely be-
cause there is no chance Nixon will adopt
them would be shirking responsibility.
The danger of excessive pessimism is in
setting expectations so low that Nixon
can't help but fulfill them. To the pes-
simist, if a single tree rernains standing
by 1972, Walter Hickel will have been one
of the great secretaries of the interior.
None of the psychological self-adjust-
MARK LvIN. Editor
TPHEN WILDSTROM URBAN LENER
Managing Editor Editorial Director
DAVID KNOKE, Executive Editor
WALLACE IMMEN ......News Editor
i CAROLYN MIEGEL .,.... Associate Managing Editor
DANIEL OKRENT................... Feature Editor
,PAT" O'DONOHtE ............ ......... News Editor
WALTER SHAPIRO..Associate Etrial Director
HOWARD HORN ........ Associate Editorial Director
AVIVA KEMPNER.............Personnel Director
NEAL RUSS ....................Magazine Edito
AI4ON SYMROSKI ......Associate Magazine Editor
ANN MUNSTER ..................Contributing Editor
ments to be Nixon Presidency are ade-
quate. And given the lackluster alterna-
tives, apathy becomes an appealing de-
Yet whatever its appeal, apathy is a
luxury that cannot be afforded. The
crude application of Marcuse to the effect
that Nixon will promote revolution by
making the system intolerable is irrele-
vant. For the danger is not to the system
but to human lives.
SHOULD NIXON and Laird aggressively
pursue a military buildup-including
more offensive nuclear weapons in the
name of supremacy and a "thick" Anti-
Ballistic Missile system - tensions be-
tween the nuclear powers will be danger-
ously exacerbated. A new arms race can
only disturb the delicate psychological
balances on which peace now depends.
Nixon's predisposition toward just such
policies is undeniable. His campaign
speech on defense strategy, one of his
few departures from the hackneyed lines
he recited to crowd after crowd, called
for both superiority and the ABM.
Laird in his 1962 book on strategy
warned that America must be willing
both to use nuclear weapons-offensive
and defensive-and to strike first with
them. There is little reason to think that
the former Wisconsin Congressman's
views have mellowed. I
AN ADMINISTRATION holding these
views on defense policy must be vigi-
lantly and vigorously opposed. And the
chances of successful opposition are
abetted by Nixon's finely tuned political
ear. Not that Nixon's motivations are
solely political. Were he operating in a
political vacuum, free to act out of purely
ideological motives, he would have no dif-
ficulty deciding what to do.
But Nixon is a vote-counter, and can
be persuaded' or dissuaded by political
realities. The responsibility of those who
fear his views is to create those political
Those who have rejected the Demo-
cratic Party are in the best position to
raise effective opposition because their
motives will not be dismissed as partisan.
That includes the non-violent left, what
remains of it, and liberal Republicans.
Especially the latter. Significant defec-
tions from his own party ranks-such as
Johnson experienced-could have a very
sobering effect on Nixon. Congress now
has a number of young, obscure liberal
Republicans who stand to become less
obscure by raising principled objections
to administration policies.' They are ob-
vious allies of any group hoping to pre-
vent Nixon from pursuing a disastrous
THE NON-DEMOCRATIC, non-Republi-
can left is in a different position.
Largely discredited in the eyes of most
Americans by association with unpopular
anti-war demonstrations, the left must
recover its credibility before it can again
raise a politically significant voice.
Yet strategically, the controversy over
increased nuclear armaments gives the
left fewer problems. Demonstrating
against the war strikes most Americans
as somehow unpatriotic. Demonstrations
against the ABM will not be similarly
In appealing to a vote counter, the im-
portant criterion is numerical strength.
Only widescale opposition can make
Nixon's militarist intentions politically
untenable. Apathy, whatever its tempta-
tions, is more intolerable now than ever
A year ago you asked "Why all this restlessness?
That you could honestly not know the answers borders on the
macabre and utters from the ludicrous. But appairently you do not.
This letter is my answer.
If I counted all the times you meant "peace" when you said
"peace." would they add up to one?
If history does say that you "tried." what do you think it will
say that you tried to do?
If you weren't God could you face your judgment?
A FRIEND OF MINE got ambushed in Vietnam. By civilians.
By civilians left homeless and countryless. My friend did everything
he was told to do. He even got killed.
I° heard your popularity index jumped 20 percentage points after
last week's State of the Union musings. I'm sure it must have gone
even higher after yesterday's inauguration of Richard Nixon and his
7,000 security men.
But the worth of your Presidency will not be counted by opinion
polls. Political stakes cannot be cashed in but must be wagered over
and over again until the roulette wheel stops spinning.
More significantly your level of humaness will not be measured
by columns of percentages.
YOU CAME TO power in the niilieu of street violence. You found
violence in the bureaucracy but it was the wordless kind of glaciers
gouging the earth. Like the feeling that ground down my friend's
parents when they received his back pay minus the cost of the
uniform he ruined by getting shot.
This silent violence had its own momentum and didn't satisfy
Your need for willful manipulation. So you branded your breed of
violence, capitalizing on a decade of foreign policy mistakes.
You made it 10-gallon size. And you purged your accomplices
with your zeal to hog the prestige a war-united nation bestows. Even
now, despite your angry penance, you want your deeds adjudged those
befitting a great man.
BUT YOU LEAVE the Presidency something less than a man,
even as you leave me with something less than human responses.
I have been sucked in by the malicious, lava which poured forth
from your war. I hated the hate between soldier and civilian in
Vietnam, the hate between policeman and student in Chicago.
I was caught in the crush of voices pushing past each other to
be heard. Too often I used my bitterness as a cudgel and struck out
just to strike back.
But you turned each promise into a lie. Even your bribes had no
honor among bribetakers.
You blame the mythmakers and the media for not selling this
war as other wars have been sold. You think that affluence has soured
my stomach for a diet of patriotism laced with bullets.
No. I am just as courageous and as cowardly as my father who;
fought in World War II. I have discovered no new virtue, no new
sense of compasgion or justice, no higher idealism than my father or
BUT YOUR OBSESSION with your destiny was logged in terms
too brutal and savage for any except the most animal and most,
Snivel if you will because I blasphemed your immortality, be-
cause I unarmored your weakness. I didn't find it in time to save
my friend or the other thousands.
So today you are Mr. Ex.
YOU'VE SENT me 5rmany application forms which I've dutifully
filled out over the past five years. Now I'm sending one to you
in the hope you might have time to read it,
It's for the Peace Corps. Many people have worked in the Peace
Corps, building things like bridges and friendships. According to some
reports, a lot of these things have been busted up by napalm bombs
and mortar fire.
I thought you might like to find out what's been happening.
CARTOONISTS HAVE had more fun with Richard Mil-
hous Nixon than with any other major political figure.
But the humor that emanated from their drawings was
more complex than the simple over-exaggeration of two
massive jowels. It was a mocking humor, a humor that
roared with the disbelief that such a fated political figure
could hope to become President.
But even political cartoonists can be wrong. And
somehow, none of the old Nixon jokes seem terribly funny
anymore. It is difficult to depict the ironically tragic.
The solid mediocrity which seems to be forthcoming
from the new .administration has not managed to elicit
much in the way of either subtle or brazen humor. There
is something decidedly depressing about mocking the stolid
sober earnestness which is the hallmark of the President.
The uncharacteristic degree of consideration which
f.r. . Watch that firststep !"
Nixon has received since his narrow electoral victory, even
from this once brutally hostile quarter, is probably one of
the most glaring symptoms that the Nixon inauguration
is no laughing matter.
Whether Nixon's election was a cruel quirk of fate or
whether it is the inevitable outcome of the current political
sterility of our lives, we are stuck with a President wlho
seems unable to fathom our aspirations.
Because of the anomaly of this situation it is exceed-
ingly difficult to come to grips with the reality of the Nixon
Today's page represents our first confrontation, With
the simple yet strangely perplexing fact that the man with
the scrawling outstretched arms is now President.
-THE EDITORIAL DIRECTORS
Nixon and his Cabinet
The Inaugural Address:
By WALTER SHAPIRO
JUDGING FROM Nixon's Inau-
gural Address, we have passed
from the Age of Confrdntation
into the Age of the Aphorism.
Midway through the mercifully
short address, one began to sus-
pect that the new President was
modeling his rhetoric on the in-
spirational talks given at the con-
clusion of Rotary meetings.
READERS OF eleventh grade
American history textbooks may
recall that Teddy Roosevelt once
called ' the Presidency, "a bully
Where the first Roosevelt seem-
ingly referred to the office's built-
in powers of persuasion, Nixon
seemed far more captivated by the
Presidency's opportunities for ex-
As the new President waxed
ecstatno abnuit "thn ema11 nlgn-
seems to reve'e are the supe
sort which tend to obscure,i
than alleviate, our underlyi
LIKE ALL but the best po
oratory, the Nixon speec
marked by a series of almos
While Nixon said at one
"we can afford to apprais
weaknesses with candor,
nonnetheless felt comnelled tno
erficial P r e s i d e n t insisted, "I know
rather America's youth," betrayed how
ng so- unsure Nixon was of his own as-
Nixon immediately coupled this
olitical glorification of youth with a lec-
h was ture, reminiscent of an earnest
t con- sixth grade teacher; on the posi-
tive social values of decorum and
point, quiet. Scaling our national law
se our and order fetish down to more
he familar dimensions, Nixon pleaded
stres that "Weocannot learn from nne
with the explanation that "we are
approaching the limits of what
government alone can do."
Nixon went to great lengths to
quiet the fears of Democratic
partisans, by affirming his devo-
tion to a long list of national goals
ranging from "full employment"
to "enhancing the quality of life."
The programatic vacuity of the
Inaugural Address suggests that
Nixon as President is an intelli-
L-ent_ sincere. welt intentionndaalA
the Age of the Aphorism
is the only contribution -that
America needs to make toward
easing world tensions.
The conflict between us and the
Soviet Union has gone on, far too
long for either side to be moved
by their adversary's professions of
peaceful intentions. Unless Nixon's
rhetoric is accompanied by a will-
ingness to make meaningful con-
cessions in the interest of mutual
accommodation, one remains con-
rather pregnant fact that we are
While throughout his campaign
for the Presidency, Nixon has val-
iantly tried to make this seemingly
insoluble conflict disappear by ig-
noring it, one would assume that
upon reaching the White House he
would at least deign to acknowl-
edge its existence.
Yet even as President, his inten-
tions in this tremendously crucial
area rovaviy Qhrnnd1 A inm vterv.