Sunday Gazette-Mail from Charleston, West Virginia on September 3, 1972 · Page 20
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September 3, 1972

Sunday Gazette-Mail from Charleston, West Virginia · Page 20

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Charleston, West Virginia
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Sunday, September 3, 1972
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I Was Just Investigating the Possibility of a Sneak Attack by Doorknobs.' RICHARD LEE STROUT A Week in Fantasyland rtDio7i--*=teB3S i_e?5^. MIAMI BEACH -At the driveway of the swank Doral Hotel I am stopped by two troopers and a Burns security guard in a red coat. "Credential," they demand. "But why," I asked nonplussed, "Isn't this a public hotel, the McGovern headquarters last month?" They are polite. They explain that as temporary presidential campaign headquarters for Republicans it is under security. I show my press cards and get as far as the steps. "Credential?" asks another Burns man. To get to the men's room would take an armored car. All 220 rooms have been taken by the GOP for a week. It is a fortress. An interoffice memo distributed to staff says, "While at the hotel you are requested to put all sensitive papers in the 'confidential burn' bags found in every office. . . A paper shredder is available in the security office." And to avoid embarrassment, it says, take your credentials to the pool. It gives you the creeps. What kind of a world is this? You remember the Watergate bugging. The fact is, you soon discover, Republicans are so opulent this year that money runs out of their ears; hiring hotels is nothing. A newsman senses it at once. At the convention press room there is an ostentatious display of mimeographed handouts; one pile, a foot high, is a announcements to a press conference held two days earlier but not removed. There are tables and tables covered with assorted handouts of which few say anything. It is easy to ridicule the Nixon coronation and probably nothing so elaborate has occurred since the Victoria Jubilee. But some of the attacks are unfair since custom requires the ritual 'even if there is no contest. Nevertheless, this is surely the dullest convention I ever attended, not even excluding Hoover's renomination in 1932 which, at least, had a certain tragic drama. *· NEVER WAS so much written by so many about so little. On the other hand, the convention served its two main purposes, to adore Nixon (who is a hard man to love) and to put horns on George McGovern (who is likeable enough, but whose plight after a series of agonizing blunders is near-desperate). The 1972 GOP convention has deep interest for the student. This is the mechanism by which the "haves" keep their comfortable hold on things and as such deserves intense study. It is done, I think, with colored balloons and Nixon pompom girls. They distract the eye while the basic things are forgotten. Read the platform. You won't find that 25 million Americans live below the poverty line, or that 5 per cent of the people get 40 per cent of the income, or that a few hundred corporations now control 55 per cent of corporate assets, or that blacks are being compressed tighter and tighter into crime-breeding central cities, while safety valves like school busing are being sanctimoniously shut. These things are all true but are hardly mentioned. You become absorbed by the process in which such issues are adroitly ignored. You may not love, or even like, Nixon, but you have to respect his power. Here is the Vietnam V.'cr, for example, which' Congress dislikes and the people detest but which nevertheless goes on as we continue dropping bombs on dark-skinned people of one of the world's smallest and poorest countries. We keep dropping bombs because Nixon wants us to and because he says it is a test of national stamina and tells us in his acceptance speech, "We will not stain the honor of the Unted States." Cheers, tumult. We must murder or our honor is stained. You discover by degrees that you are on a gigantic television lot and participating in a superbly staged show. Everybody is type-cast, reporters as reporters, politicians as politicians, all those enthusiastic young people as enthusiastic young people. Three thousand of the latter have been brought in and lodged around a high school near Convention Hall in what is called a compound. They are ardent, sincere, dedicated. They have a fixed place in the gallery to stamp, shout, squeal and rhythmically chant when cued from the podium. When Nixon arrives at the airport a platoon or two of this mobile TV claque is detached from the crowd and is waiting for him. The President tells them how much he likes young people. *· MIAMI BEACH is a nice make-believe tinker-toy city of white stucco with pastel green trim, as artificial as the GOP convention script. A copy of some of the press and gives this remarkable document is distributed mistakenly to to some of the press and gives a minute-by-minute scenario of events hours before they occur. Actor John Wayne is instructed to "accept cheers and applause," and "spontaneous demonstrations" are timed in advance precisely. The Rev. Philip Hansen, a member of the team of divines whose supplications begin each session, says he had to submit his prayer two weeks in advance. You can't really be angry. Make-believe is fun. When the roll-call vote for the upop- posed Nixon on the big screen reaches "Missouri" and he has a majority, the screen flashes "Nixon Nominated." "Nixon Nominated" in palpitating excitement. For me the highlight comes when the reluctant chairman of the New Mexico delegation has to record the one anti-Nixon vote for Rep. Pete McCloskey. The chairman acts as though he was carrying some obscene thing in tongs to a flush toilet. The conservatives at Miami Beach are in control from the start. They smell a landslide and have picked Spiro as heir apparent. The President is a little harder to make out. He considers McGovern an easy mark and can't wait to chew him up. Then . . . back to four more years of Vietnam bombing, perhaps, and who knows what after that. More and more he sounds like De Gaul- le. "When the history of this period is written," he says majestically in his acceptance speech, "it will be record that our most significant contributions to peace resulted from our trips to Peking and Moscow." The regal use of "our" is a little odd. A bit later he adjures the nation, "Let us not turn away from greatness." The pompom girls love it. Page 2C Vol. 15 No. 28 Charleston. West Virginia, September 3, 1972 MARY McGROHY A Snide Adlai Stevenson? Let's Get Down to Issues George McGovem, who won nomination by stepping out of the center, now is embarrassing many supporters by struggling to get into it. In this endeavor he has managed to excuse Lyndon Johnson for escalating the Vietnam War, publicly seek forgiveness from Richard Daley, and, most recently, talk tough about the Soviets. It is an interesting turnabout to find McGovern charging President Xixon with softness toward communism, which he did in connection with the problems of Russian Jews and the ever-present Mideast crisis. If one suspects George McGovern's quest for the presidency has tempted him t to depart from the high road, however, one should also examine President Nixon's own reliance upon non-jssues ami appeals to emotion. The President has wrung from the busing controversy every possible advantage, bllatantly courting the support of the prejudiced. At the American Legion convention, he offered his own interpretation of McGovern's defense proposals, and it was the usuial distortion favored by Pentagon apologists. Addressing himself at the same convention to the amnesty question, Mr. Nixon alluded to a "few hundred" who evaded military service or deserted. There are more than a few hundred in this cate- Shriver May Have Goofed In his enthusiastic search for labor votes. Sargent Shriver has told a postal u n i o n convention that he approves the right nf federal employes to strike. Such a declaration might not return George Meany tn the fold but it doubtless fell happily upon the ears of many union working men. We aren't sure, however, that Shriver will come out ahead w i t h a proposition very likely to scare away many citizens who try to re- m a i n neutral in labor-management struggles. No Fountain For Youth Want to live to be 100 years old? TheAmerican Medical Assn. recently interviewed s o m e of the 7,000 men and womnn who have celebrated their centennial- or post centennial--birthday to learn their secret to longevity. Most centenarians, the AMA learned, have these common traits: amiable dispositions, quick senses of humor, and the healthy desire to stay ousy both physically and mentally. Now that's not too difficult, is it? 7 Strikes against the federal government are prohibited for a sensible reason. They would disrupt essential public service. In the modern world, especially in the modern city, disruption of public service would result in chaos from which it would be d i f f i c u l t to emerge. Shutting down the mail delivery operation, for instance, would paralyze the commerce which is the lifeblood of American society. Imagine the effect of a general strike against the government. The welfare of government em- ployes must, of course, be safeguarded. Perhaps it is wrong to govern labor-management relations by executive order, and perhaps modern and reasonable arbitration machinery should be substituted for it. But federal employes must also understand that they cannot be regarded as ordinary workers. They are the employes of the people of the United States who reiy upon a complicated assortment of government services. This is a fact of life which should be impressed upon any worker as soon as he ;. cepts a government job. If he finds the condition of employment intolerable, he «h«n!r! '.urn tn the private sector gory. By Defense Department count, there are 75,000 young men in jail or living in other countries as a result of the refusal to fight in the war Mr. Nixon promised to end. In connection with this misstatement of the facts, Mr. Nixon implied that McGovern lacks respect for the men who have fought and died in Vietnam. This is hardly high-level campaigning. To the contrary, it comes perilously close to the McCarthyism which propelled a younger Nixon into Congress. We hope both McGovern and the President will abandon name-calling and get down to serious discussion of the issues. Both candidates have differing points of view on welfare, national health insurance, spending, and foreign policy, debate on which would be helpful to voters. Letter to Editor Not There, Says Cann Editor: The "Affairs of State" article appearing in the Aug. 27 edition of the Sunday Gazette Mail under the byline of Fanny Seiler states that "Carmine Cann, first vice president of the Democratic Executive Committee, was seen attending a fund-raising dinner for Gov. Moore in Clarksburg. .." While I ordinarily would be hesitant to question the accuracy of any news item appearing in the Gazette-Mail, the report is untrue, and I feel impelled to ask that at the earliest convenient time, the Gazette-Mail retract this error. In the future, it would be advisable for your reporters to verify items based only on vivid imagination or the serious myopia of an informant. Carmine J. Cann 150 East Main St. Clarksburg, W. Va. © The Washington Star WASHINGTON--In the current issue of Life magazine, Daniel P. Moynihan, the Harvard professor who served President Nixon for two years as a counselor, deposes' that the President yearns to bring "a Stevensonian concept of civility and rational discourse" to his second term. This is good news indeed, and something to look forward to if Nixon wins--especially if one can believe that the idea originated with the President, rather than with his visitor, a lifelong Democrat who obviously is psyching himself up to vote Republican. But if it was meant as a summons to fellow Democrats to do likewise, it won't work. We must quote Moynihan quoting a Frenchman at the time of Spiro Agncw's attack on Moynihan's first political patron, Averell Harriman: "It was not only a crime, it was a blunder." *· IN FACT, it is hard to think of anything more likely to enrage older members of Moynihan's party, who think of Stevenson in Eugene McCarthy's memorable phrase as "the man who made us proud to be Democrats." For nothing will bring back more forcefully the fading memories of the old Nixon, who savaged Stevenson with unparalleled ferocity in two campaigns. There probably is no man in American public life whom Nixon less resembles, or admired less in his lifetime. If he has come to respect and admire him. Moynihan's is the first word we have had of that admirable advance. To millions of Democrats, Stevenson was all that Nixon never was--a high-minded intellectual, idealistic, c o u r- teous, witty, eloquent, prophetic. To Richard Nixon in the '50s, they will begin remembering, he was "a weakling, a waster, a small-caliber Truman," and "Adlai the appeaser. . .who got a Ph. D. from Dean Acheson's college of cowardly Communist containment." Stevenson in public called Nixon "a man of many masks." In private, he [old his friends he found him appalling. D e m o c r a t s m a y have learned to live with the idea that Nixon likes to be thought of as a Republican Harry Truman, rough-tongued but forgivable. They never have accepted it. And to ask them to escalate to Adlai Stevenson is like asking Frenchmen to think as well of the bishop who burned her as they do of Joan of Arc. Moynihan has always found the President an extremely civil man, but the record of public civility so far has been lamentable. *THERE WAS nothing Stev- ensonian in the snide reference to the Eagleton agony in his acceptance speech, when he spoke of Agnew: "I believe he is the best man for the job today. And I am not going to change my mind tomorrow." It is hard to think of anything Stevensonian in the tongue-lashing to the Senate for "bigotry" after its rejection of one of his singular Supreme Court choices--or in the arm-waving diatribe on law and order in the Phoenix hangar during the 1970 campaign, or in the recent scoring of the secretary-general of the United Nations, the institution which Stevenson loved and died serving. If civility is at hand, let us hope we get a glimpse of it in the campaign. It is hard to imagine him saying, as Stevenson did, "Rather we lose this election than mislead ihe people by representing as simple what is infinitely complex, or by representing as safe what is infinitely precarious. For there are no painless solutions to war, inflation, communism, imperialism, hunger, fear, intolerance and all the hard, stubborn problems that beset us." To Nixon, whose acceptance speech was made up of old ideas and used phrases, nothing could apply less than what Stevenson once said of (he candidate's true concern--"to find the right words, the (rue, faithful, explicit words which will make the issues plain and his position on these issues clear." The Committee to Re-EIect President Nixon doubtless will print millions of copies of Moynihan's flattering endorsement. Maybe even now in the Democrats for Nixon, a subdivision of "Stevensonians for Nixon" is being formed. Moynihan may well be its only member. RALPH NADER-In the Public Interest Car Price Control Farce WASHINGTON -It, takes the power and greed of the auto companies to show how seriously the Nixon administration's price control program has failed the consumer and worker. Partly because of consumer and labor pressure, but mostly because General Motors and Ford overreached themselves i n d e m a n d i n g large price increases, the Price Commission has relented and will hold unprecedented hearings on auto price increases on Sept. 12. The chairman of the commission, C. Jackson Grayson, has declared that no price increases for )973 model cars will be finally approved until after the hearing. The mockery which the big auto companies have made of the namby-pamby government price control program can be seen in the following figures. For the second quarter of this year, GM profits are at an all-time high, running a staggering 28 per cent over the same period last year, which itself was the second quarter of 43 per cent. Both companies are heading toward In? most profitable year in their long history. As one giddy GM executive was heard to say to his lunchtime associates at a Detroit restaurant near the GM headquarters, "If this be price control, let's have more of it." · THE AUTO INDUSTRY'S confidence that the Sept. 12 hearing in Washington will not change the course of events rests on their cushy relationship with the Price Commission over the past. year. The commission refuses to disclose the factual basis for the repeated price increase approvals it has given the auto companies since last fall. Mr. Grayson keeps secret all information provided him by the auto industry, and all contacts between commission officials and auto company representatives. He won't even supply consumers with a general idea of what information is being supplied by the auto companies. Since the commission does not have the necessary economists and other specialists to begin lo evaluate any information from Detroit, keeping the door closed on the public also keeps the commission from having to admit 'that it can do little more than rubber-stamp the price increase requests. »- OTHER FACTORS favor the auto companies. This is an election year. What they do not get now by way of their full demand, they plan lo get in January. The commission permits these interim or incremental increases during the model year to keep Ihe total increases from coming at once and generating a consumer revolt. Now comes the Bureau of Later Statistics with its annual report on new car quality improvements six w e e k s ahead of the usual release date. Since BLS relies on the auto companies for information, it is not surprising that the companies only push what they say are quality increases and decline to divulge quality decreases. The BLS then swallowed the industry line that the increases were necessary just to pass on the cost of safety and pollution features required by the government. For example, the Bureau attributed 3. $fi9.90 value increase for 1973 cars due to bumper improvements required by safety laws. It neglected to mention that the legally required safety reqxyre- ments for bumpers were already met by most domestic 1972 autos. The White House, through the Cost of Living Council, is embarrassed by the behavior of the auto companies. Last year's tax relief package for corporations benefited most of the auto industry and was alleged to help consumers through lower prices and the generation of more jobs. Instead, consumers are being gouged and there are fewer jobs even though industrywide domestic car sales are R~5 per . cent higher in the first six months of 1972 than last year. The average number of GM hourly employes in the U.S. was down 4.2 per cent (17,800 less jobs) in the second quarter of this year compared with the same period in 1971, but its domestic vehicle output was up 5.4 per cent during the same period. It is this trend -- the divergence b e t w e e n exorbitant prices and profits, on the one hand, and fewer jobs on the other -- that has brought the United Auto Workers to demand reduced car prices. The figures also suggest improved productivity which should lead to lower prices. The auto industry wants to keep to itself information about such re» duced cost.* of production.

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