Sunday Gazette-Mail from Charleston, West Virginia on August 6, 1972 · Page 137
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Sunday Gazette-Mail from Charleston, West Virginia · Page 137

Charleston, West Virginia
Issue Date:
Sunday, August 6, 1972
Page 137
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Page 137 article text (OCR)

As described by husband, 'My own guided missile'-except that it is unguided. From left, Bureau of Narcotics Director John f. Ingersoll, President Nixon, and Attorney General Mitchell. On table is part of $4 million in illicit drugs taken in Detroit raid. Mitchell's fight against drugs and organized crime is laudable. CONTINUED turned out to be extraordinarily prophetic. Thus on November 29, 1970, in answer to a reader's question, "Why does Martha Mitchell call newspaper reporters at outlandish hours of the night and from strange places?", Scott responded with: "Psychiatrists say Mrs. Mitchell is obviously unhappy with her state in life. Her telephone calls to reporters are, symbolically, cries of help to her husband. She wants the Attorney General to pay some attention to her. By phoning newsmen, what she is saying to her husband is, 'I am capable of making great trouble for you. Pay some attention to me. Spend some time with me. Do not dismiss me. I am capable of wielding considerable power. Here is an example.' Then she makes one of her phone calls, and the Attorney General in response has to dismiss her facetiously as 'My own guided missile'-except that it is unguided." For nearly three years Martha delighted Republican partisans with her spirited tirades against Administration foes. She called political demonstrators "Liberal Communists." She demanded that The Arkansas Gazette "crucify" Sen. William Fulbright. She claimed that professors and educators "were totally responsible for the sins of our children." In response, hundreds of letters-nine to one in her favor--began to pour daily into her husband's offices at the Justice Department. Martha started making speeches, granting interviews, appearing en the covers of national magazines. Crank mail pours in One indicator of her meteoric rise in popularity: she began receiving as much crank mail as Sen. Ted Kennedy. For Christmas someone sent her a decomposed rat surrounded with holly. Such incidents frightened Martha, and her security was tightened. But, all told, Martha was ecstatic. George Gallup reported that 76 percent of the American people knew who she was--three times as many people recognized her than recognized State Secretary William Rogers. But Martha's sunburst of publicity went into sudden eclipse when her husband left the Justice Department last February to become the President's campaign manager. The orderly, disciplined life of Cabinet wife suddenly turned into disarray. Her husband also became involved in the headlines-first the ITT affair, then the break-in of the Democratic Party headquarters. John spent long hours in the office cooking up political strategy, not realizing that the most potent political stewpot was bubbling at home. Finally, a neglected Martha blew off steam-enough, as it turned out, to keep John in his own kitchen for some time to come. But Mitchell's abdication may be more a blessing in disguise than a disaster to the Nixon campaign. An examination of his public record reveals that Mitchell was an abrasive campaign manager and a partisan Attorney General. As the 1968 campaign strategist, Mitchell was more suited to Wall Street than a political campaign. Although he was inexperienced in national politics, he still knew where the power was. His relentless pursuit of money and support in 1968 lost votes. Ahead by 16 percentage points in the national polls at the beginning, Nixon won by less than one percent of the total vote. However narrow the victory, it was enough to persuade Nixon that Mitchell should serve as his Attorney General and, again, as campaign manager But he got Nixon's 1972 campaign off to an inauspicious start. He refused to disclose the names of thousands of Republicans who contributed $10 million to the campaign just ahead of the legal deadline which hereafter will require full disclosure. Political strategist Even as Attorney General, Mitchell insisted upon retaining his headdress as the President's top political chieftain. Mitchell was a principal architect of Nixon's so-called Southern strategy, carefully courting Sen. Strom Thurmond during the 1968 convention. As Thurmond'? reward, Mitchell persuaded the President to appoint Clement Haynsworth and Harrold Carswell to the Supreme Court. In an unprecedented move, the Senate rejected one after another. Mitchell continued to play partisan politics as the nation's top law officer. This raises the question of whether the campaign manager should be in charge of justice, even though there is a precedent for this. President Eisenhower appointed Herbert Brownell and Johp F. Kennedy named his brother Robert. The first week Mitchell took office he permitted his department to drop an antitrust case against El Paso Natural Gas, which had paid the former Nixon- Mitchell law firm more than $770,000 over a six-year period. The action was so blatantly political that the Supreme Court, in an unusual move, retook jurisdiction of the El Paso case. Mitchell sought to delay school integration in Mississippi and oppose crosstown busing at Charlotte, N.C., for political reasons. The Supreme Court again slapped him down--both times. Mitchell sought to stop The New Yorfc Times and The Washington Post from publishing the Pentagon Papers. The Supreme Court ruled against him, six to three. Fight on drugs and crime Nixon campaigned hard on the theme that doubling the conviction rate was the best way to stop the rise of crime. But a Justice Department report reveals that there has been a drastic decrease in the conviction rate since Mitchell became Attorney General. To his credit, however, Mitchell let his crimebusters loose on organized crime and drug pushers. Compared to his predecessors, Mitchell's record in these areas is laudable. The consensus view of Mitchell as. public figure: He was blunt, relentless, often heavy-handed. But privately, his wife Martha knew a different man. She called him "warm and cuddly." 12 PARADE · AUGUST 6,1972

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