Sunday Gazette-Mail from Charleston, West Virginia on June 16, 1974 · Page 33
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June 16, 1974

Sunday Gazette-Mail from Charleston, West Virginia · Page 33

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Charleston, West Virginia
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Sunday, June 16, 1974
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Page 33
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RICHARD LEE STROUT 3C June 16.1974 His Majesty' Has Been Tainted fa the year of Our Lord nineteen seventy-four and of the independence of these United States one hundred and ninety-eight the President who represents us while traveling abroad is not able to say that he will obey an adverse decision of the Supreme Court. The colonists rebelled because they felt George HI had too much power and erected a Constitution to protect them but it is not certain that it avails anymore. At a press conference last week the President's special counsel, James D. St. Clair, had the following colloquy: Q. How will you advise your client in case he receives an adverse decision from the Supreme Court? Mr. St. Clair: You mean how would I advise the President in this case. Q. Yes. Mr. St. Clair: Well, sir, that is a hypothetical question, frankly. I don't know that 1 care to answer it at this time. I don't think it is ever going to come to that point. Q: You cannot say now whether you would say yes or no to obeying an order of the RALPH NADER Fighting CPA WASHINGTON-If there is ever to be a consumer hall of infamy, charter members could include the four senators who filed a hysterical, dissenting report against both the consumer protection agency (CPA) bill and the overwhelming majority of their colleagues on the Senate Government Operations Committee who voted for this landmark legislation. Sen. Sam Ervin, D-N.C. busy struggling against the Watergate mess, can be partially excused for delegating the job of preparing a minority report to his counsel, Robert B. Smith, a crisp, virulently anti-consumer lawyer who huddles regularly with big business lobbyists trying to stop the CPA bill on the Senate floor; But what can explain the behavior of Sen. James Allen, Sen. Sam Nunn and Sen. Bill Brock in signing such a slipshod, windy and insensitive dissent? As befits these radical reactionaries, the answer is that they prefer corporate power over consumer justice in the battle for a fair, responsive government. This is the fifth year that a bipartisan group of senators and representatives have been trying, against White House and corporate opposition, to enact the CPA to represent with skill and determination consumer health, safety and economic interests before other federal regulatory agen- , cies. In 1970, the Senate : passed this bill by the lopsided vote of 74 to 4. A platoon of corporate and trade association lobbyists have been swarming around the Congress and getting their members to write to their legislators from around the country. Leading antagonists toward the consumer bill are the Grocery Manufacturers of America, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, National Accocia- tion of Manufacturers, the Business Roundtable, the National Association of Pood Chains, Proctor Gamble, Greyhound, General Electric, Western Union, J.C. Penney, Ford, General Motors and Sears. Supporting the bill are such otherwise diverse senators as Warren Magnuson, Charles Percy, Ernest Rollings, John Tunney, Abraham Ribicoff, Walter Huddleston and William Roth. These men have been listening to the mass of evidence presented before congressional hearings over the years regarding serious, systematic and widespread consumer abuses. » THEY KNOW about Sen. Nelson's hearings on gouging drug prices, Sen. Proxire's hearings on credit and privacy abuses, Sen. Hartke's hearings on transportation abuses and hazards, Sen. Metcalf's hearings on utilities and their resented waste and deceptions, Sen. Kennedy's hearings on casualties from unsafe health services, and Sen. Hart's massive documentation of monopolistic and anti- competitive practices that fuel inflation. There is also a broad consensus in the Congress that federal agencies are captured by the industries they are sup- posed to keep straight and routinely, if not defiantly, ignore the interests of consumers. They need a watchdog. THE MINORITY report by Ervin, Allen, Brock and Nunn totally ignores the fact that big business has several giant departments and agencies unabashedly advocating and promoting its interests with ample small taxpayer revenues. Indeed, the law setting up the Department of Commerce at the turn of the century is "to foster, promote, and develop commerce and industry." Its annual budget alone will be over 85 times the $15 million annual budget to be accorded the tiny CPA. Similar advocacy and promotional functions are performed for business by the Department of the Interior, the Civil Aeronautics Board, the Maritime Administration, the department of "agribusiness" (as it should be called) and other agencies subsidizing or shielding large corporations from the rigors of the marketplace. Since Richard Leighton, the lobbyist for the food industry, had a substantial input in the shaping of the report overseen by Robert Smith, it is not surprising that it reads like a trade association release. Earlier in the session the House passed the CPA bill by a three-to-one margin. There should be a similar majority in the Senate when the vote comes up this month. But a possible filibuster by the radical reactionaries may delay the vote until enough consumers write to enough senators to break such an impasse. Mr. St. Ciair: I would not want to say yes or DO at this point, sir, because I consider it a hypothetical question. THE PRESS can't ask Nixon directly because they don't see him. His last press conference was three months ago, and he has had only two this year: He had seven last year and seven the year before and only 35 in five years. President Roosevelt had two a week. I sometimes think that the Watergate inquiry has gotten off the track. It has turned into a kind of game, to see if the pursuers can catch Nixon in an outright lie (in which case he will be impeached and probably t h r o w n o u t ) or whether he has covered his tracks so adroitly that it can't be proved that he knew what all the others around him knew, and that he can't be held responsible for his surrogates' work. It is all rather fun. the try-to-nail-the-President game, and it takes our mind off our troubles. But, of course, that isn't it at all. The point is that the administration has produced a scandal that would cause the fall of any other popularly elected government on earth and that we now must seriously face the fact that under our rigid system of government we can't get rid of a President, however imperial, save by a clumsy process of impeachment that most of us thought had atrophied. It goes beyond that, for now we see that this thing called Watergate was only part of a more systematic aggrandizement of the presidency (a process begun 50 years back) and that it amounted to a kind of "min- iputsch" or power g r a b . takes a simple oath on the steps of the Capitol at noon oa a winter's day and suddenly he is sacrosanct, wrapped in majesty. The tragic victims of Watergate are the ruined young men. They came to serve the President and were corrupted by their superiors. Some were innocents but most were of the corruptible type, crowd- followers, team-players, gen- uflectors to authority. They were socially poised, from comfortable backgrounds, the type that Nixon admired from his own awkward, graceless upbringing. Bart Porter. 36, clean cut, a nice face, a wife and all that: 30 days in jail. Bud Krogh, 34, straight as an arrow, loyal, patriotic, now in prison. Gordon Strachan, aquiline features, sensitive face, he told young people to stay away from politics when he faced criminal indictment. They were loyal to the President even while he was quietly stashing away a fortune from unpaid income taxes. »· THE OLDER ONES were tougher and knew better what it was all about. But they, too, were caught in the mystique of the monarch-minister presidency. Colson would "walk over his grandmother" to serve Nixon before he got religion, and some will wonder now whether he can plea-bargain with God as he has with Judge Gesell. There is Gen. Haig telling former Atty. Gen. Richardson to obey the President -- "the commander-in- chief" orders you. What a crew. And now there is even the Rev. McLaughiia. a Jesuit, paid $30.000, living in the opulent Watergate apartments, who lays benefices hands on presidentia' acts. 'Well, why not. RuLrs in the past had court jesters, why should no' *n imperial President have a priest? 1 think the Watergate inquiry has gotten off the track it is concentrating on Nix ;n and not on the system Jiat produced him. If a non- eharismatic figure like N'ixon can get so far. think what a real Fuehrer could do I hope that the Senate won't get the two-thirds vote necessary to convict (I take House impeachment for granted) so that America will have a cou- ple of years to consider the degrading situation of being led by a man condemned by a majority in both houses. Other countries can switch governments without disaster, why not America? Mondoy ondTuesdoy--June 17-18 THERE WAS, too, the assertion of the imperial right to impound money, to exercise executive privilege and to decide whether to obey the Supreme Court. More odious than that, perhaps, was the exploitation of the mystical role -- the presidency. Our system is unique and not foreseen by the founding fathers, we roll together the head of government and the head of state, minister and monarch, in the same man. More and more the obsequious Congress bows to the office. In Canada they do not toast the prime minister, they toast the queen, whose representative is the governor-general; in the U.S. we toast the president. We are trained to honor the office, like the flag, from kindergarten. A politician SALE SlSHV ·';.--·· f f 37 NUMBS Values to $25 Men's White! 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