Monday, June 26, 2017


Jack  What time is Watergate?  Is it nine o’clock? 
B   I think it’s ten.  if they ever have Mitchell on, that’ll be interesting. 
J   Won’t it, huh?  Hey, that really will be.  He’s next.  [He’s next?]  He wants to be excused, is the latest I heard. 
B   I guess they all start out by making this plea on the grounds that it will prejudice their chance of a fair trial.
J   They can do nothing.  This whole committee is together, not to prove guilt.  It’s to lay the groundwork for legislation.  If there’s breaking of the law, that’s what the prosecution will take care of.  Because they’re indicted.  If you’re indicted, you have to be prosecuted.  There’s no question that laws were broken.
B   Apparently there’s no question that they’ve been breaking them for years, spying on each other.  Nixon was bugged in 1968.  Remember?  J. Edgar Hoover told him that when he came into office.  Did you hear any of the testimony about the climate in the White House?  How Nixon, who’s always said he couldn’t care less about how many thousands of demonstrators there were against him, he was busy watching a ballgame or something, was actually bothered very much.  There was one man with a sign out in the park, where he was in plain sight—
J  While he was watching the ballgame? 
B   No, this was another time.  It was an indication of how really supersensitive he was about any criticism.  He practically sent the whole FBI outside.  He wanted the man  told to move along.  He was very sensitive about the war.
J   Was that what the sign was?  Protesting the war? [I believe so.]  Gee, it really shouldn’t be like this, private conversations with the president, an atmosphere like this on TV all over the nation.   The little things that were said.  Part of it is not good.  I think if there was a cover-up, he should have been above it as the president.  But a few of the things that were said did not relate to a cover-up.  It shouldn’t be made public if they don’t relate to Watergate or the cover-up.  I don’t think they serve any purpose.
B   Like what things?
J    {sigh} I wish I could remember, but it was something that was human to say.  [Something the president said?]  Yeah.  Something he was quoted as saying.  I think Dean’s got quite a story there.  Of course he’s putting himself in a good light, and I don’t know if others were not put in a bad light.  This is what Dean is doing for himself.
B   They’re going to try to discredit him.
J   I think they can’t discredit the basic facts.  I think they might discredit the image he’s putting forth.
B   After all, he was very close to the president right up until this spring, so he allegedly, according to what Nixon thought, was a top man, worthy of having a lot of responsibility.
J    Well, the way he conducted himself today, he seems to be intelligent.
B   Of course, he’s reading from a script.  He and his lawyers must have gone over every word, trying not to leave out any innuendo that would help his case, or to leave in anything that would hurt him. 
J   You’d think men of that caliber, of that station in life, would not stoop to lie, but when it comes to your own skin, I guess they lie just like everybody else does.
B   If all these guys are telling the truth, they thought they were lying in a good cause.
J    I’m talking about Mitchell.  Some of the things he said—
B   Well, he could have been lying to protect the president, not just himself.  Martha Mitchell says he’d go to jail to protect the president. 
J   The break-in was a few nights before I met you.  By June twenty-fifth, everyone knew about it.
B   A lot of people were shaking in their boots, I’m sure. 
J   Right.  I don’t see how anybody could take it as lightly as the two top men did.  They seemed to think they were above it, and it was just a question of who below them was going to get in trouble.  Does it seem that way to you?   There’s something wrong with people who think they can do that.  It’s something they can do that anyone else would go to jail for.  They pretend they’re CIA.  That was a crummy thing to do.  These people who were involved in the break-in were carrying CIA identification. 
B   Then a guy named Tony pretended to be a reporter that the Kennedys sent.  He was asking a lot of embarrassing questions.
J   And they wanted to put around-the-clock surveillance on Kennedy because they were afraid he might recognize the fact that this was happening and call the FBI.  Remember that?  It might be embarrassing if the FBI finds out what’s going on in the administration.
B   There were some things that were discussed afterward, like let’s see who we can get on the committee that would be sympathetic to us.  When Paul Benzaquin and one of his buddies were on TV, Paul said, I’m sure they’ll make it clear later on that this kind of thing is typical.  It’s done all the time.  Maneuvering for favors. 
J   Oh sure, let’s get whoever is favorable to the administration and sees things our way.
B   People should understand the difference between that, which is legitimate wheeling and dealing, and the illegitimate type of thing.
J   Like somebody in the White House said, Try to see if the CIA won’t cooperate in helping us out with this deal.           
J   Frankly, I don’t like a Republican administration because they can’t help themselves in leaning towards Big Business. [Now you’re talking, Jack.]  I’m convinced of that economically. Domestically, too.  Foreign policy I think is something else, and we won’t discuss that.  I agree with you in that a mess has been made of this economy.   I would say I could not vote for another Republican President, if he was of that ilk.
B   I think it would be a mess if a Democrat had gotten in.  I think it’s all inherent—
J   No, I think Nixon’s advisors lean away from hurting producers.
B   They give them tax benefits . . .  
J  They can’t help themselves, they’ve been brought up that way all their life, and this is the way they honestly think. 
B  And they’re the ones that thought Roosevelt was  a madman. 
J   They can’t help it.  I don’t blame them for it.  It’s just that I don’t think they should be in office.  I like an economics adviser like Walter Heller, he was the top economic adviser for three Democrats in a row, including Truman, Kennedy, and Johnson.  It’s too bad we can’t get somebody who can get things done internationally and domestically.  Johnson lacked it in foreign policy.  Kennedy had some good ideas, but he couldn’t get things done.  Congress was sort of hostile to Kennedy.  I could never figure out why.
     But you and I aren’t that far apart, Barb, and I hope you don’t think we are.
B   Where do you feel that Johnson was lacking in his foreign policy?
J   He had no interest in foreign policy.  It was well known, it was written all over the place. 
B   Do you mean because he didn’t make friends with Russia and China? 
J   No, no, no.  He had no knowledge.
B   Kathie said, If Kennedy or Johnson had done what Nixon has done, the conservatives all over the country would be screaming, “Look at what these crazy, wild-eyed liberals are doing now!  Making friends with the Communists.”
J   Yes, there are some Right Wingers that scream about it, but there are not that many of them.  They’re not that powerful any more.  They’ve come to the middle of the road.  I don’t think that Eisenhower was much of a middle-of-the roader, not with what he brought in for cabinet people, like Brownell.
B   Back then I was much more ignorant than I am now, not that I know much now.  I thought Eisenhower was a nice-looking man.  And he was a hero. That’s all I knew. Why would anyone not like him?
J   He’s got to be something more than honest and likeable to be a politician. Being a politician is not a bad thing, but I don’t understand what’s going on in the executive department these days.  What was his name, the last man on TV?
B   Was it Richter?  [Yeah.]  That was really dramatic. 
J   It was dramatic when he talked about love and loving his fellow Americans.  That was his parting shot.  He was angry.  He’s been angry all through this thing.   
B   I loved some of the reactions of people that were on that enemies list.  Bill Cosby said, "I want to make it perfectly clear that President Nixon was on my list long before I was on his." 
J    This is beneath the Presidency and the executive branch of the government.  He has some real winners there, and I don’t know what he has against them.
Another thing that gets me is the way he doesn’t practice what he preaches, like people should tighten their belts and they should have meat just once a week.  I read that he spent fifty thousand dollars making a little family kitchen in the White House.  It’s cozy, only about thirteen by fifteen. 
J   It will be for others, for those that follow.
Maybe next week. {mixed laughter}
J   At least he’s invested in something that somebody else is going to enjoy.
B   I expect you’re seen all those cartoons, like “God help this poor country that the United States decides to rush to the aid of.” 
J    Like Turkey and Greece and all the countries that we helped?
B   It just seems as if there’s far more of a bloodbath when we mix into things than if we keep out of it.
J   Well, that’s true.  There wouldn’t be anybody killed if we allowed countries that need help to—
B   So we rush in to the little countries to exercise our power.  We don’t rush in and free all the Chinese and Russians. 
J   Well, China and Russia rush into little countries, too, you know.
B   If we’re so idealistic about freeing people, why are we being friendly with Russia and China?  It seems that with the big shots, we’re going to be buddy-buddy, but with the little guys we try to throw our weight around.
J   No, no, honey, we don’t throw our weight around. 
B   That Englishman is saying we should continue to pour all this money in.  How much is England pouring in? 
J   I don’t think there’s all that money that you’re talking about.
B  Then you don’t believe your own people.  [Well, you say all that money.]  We’re talking in terms of over a billion.  [That’s right, they’re talking in terms of a billion.]  And you don’t think that’s much?
J   I think we should do it.  Congress thinks we should do it, or it wouldn’t be voted. 
B   I think if President Kennedy, whom you loved and admired as much as I did, had lived, you and I wouldn’t be arguing about this right now. I think he saw things the way dovish people did.  Johnson listened to the military.
J   I don’t agree with you when you say what he thought. 
B   I wish you’d read the book, Johnny, We Hardly Knew You.
J   I know what he did.   I don’t care about any book,   He perpetuated what Eisenhower started.
B   He tried very hard, though, to keep it at that level, and he kept talking about not wanting to get any more involved—[Not wanting to, I know it.  I don’t think anybody wants to.]  But he’s hardly warm in his grave when Johnson—the military had been putting all the same pressure on Kennedy, but he wouldn’t buy it.   Johnson did. 
J   What you’re doing is pitting Johnson against Kennedy.  If you want to say that Johnson perpetuated what Kennedy did—
B   I think Johnson listened to the military, whose survival depends on wars. 
J   I’m not a Johnson admirer, so if you think I’m here to defend Johnson . . .
B   I think if Kennedy had lived, and if people like him had carried on after him, instead of hawks like Johnson—it was just a minor thing in the book, but I had to laugh.  He didn’t want to go over to this country, I forget where it was, where there was possibly some physical danger.  He balked at going.  But when he got to be President, he was happy to send over young boys and feed them into the slaughter mill.  That was different.  
    Kennedy was so gentle and so against of unnecessary bloodshed that he even hated to kill a deer.  He was invited by President Johnson, and he had to go out and shoot a deer. He knew there’d be a big to-do over it if he refused. 
J   Did he shoot a deer? And he didn’t want to?  [He did, very much against his desire.]  And he did it why?  Because it was expected of him? 
B   Yes. Such an issue would have been made of it if he’d made an issue of it.  The first thing that Ladybird Johnson said to him when he arrived for the weekend was, “I hope you get a deer.”  Whoever was with him said that his face fell, and he asked, “What does she mean?’’  They were aroused at six in the morning, and they went out on Johnson’s acres and acres of land where shooting deer was like shooting sitting ducks. 
J   So you thought it was terrible when she said, Go out and get a deer, and he went out and got a deer.
B   He did it because there would have been a political to-do about it. 
J   He was the President, wasn’t he?
B  Yes, but he had just invited Lyndon Johnson to be Vice-President, and Lyndon, because of his tunnel vision, imagines that what he thinks is great, everybody else is going to think is great.  Having the privilege of going out on his property and shooting a deer was regarded as a big treat. 
      So it would have been an insult.  It would be like inviting somebody to dinner, and the 
guest says,  I can’t eat that.  You mean this poor lobster has been boiled alive?  Rejecting the jolly fun of killing a deer would be an insult.  So no matter how much it went against his grain—I was hoping as I read along that somehow he’d get out of it, but  he had to do it. 
J    Well, he could have missed. 
B  There was a  human touch there, too.  He didn’t miss with his first shot.  It took  Ken O’Donnell quite a bit longer, and it took two or three shots.  When Kennedy next catches up with O'Donnell, he’s back at the White House sitting in the library, and it was all over with.  So Kennedy teases O’Donnell because he had brought down the deer within five seconds, a perfect shot, but his best friend didn’t do so well.  Kennedy was human enough to needle him about it.
     He was beautiful.  I can’t believe we would have gone through so many horrible things if he had been in charge, and I swear to God I think that’s why he died.  You think that’s crazy, but I think there were too many people who couldn’t stand his philosophy.  He didn’t want to cooperate with this profitable outlook on wars, profitable to a few.
      You know the scandals there were back in the first World War about that munitions maker—was it Krupp?
J   He was German.  What about him?
B  The scandals were about people encouraging and promoting dissension because they knew if there was a war, they were going to profit enormously.  So they actually manipulated—
J   They manipulated the news.  Hearst did that. 
B  I don’t think it’s all that different now.
J   Well okay, honey, now listen.  Here’s the difference between you and me.  You think because it happened that it always happens.  I believe that there are some times when it doesn’t, or when things are legitimate.
B   I’d like to think that World War Two was legitimate.
J    I don’t mean the whole World War Two.  I’m talking about, if it happens, you don’t believe anything after that.  Once you hear that something isn’t right, you believe that nothing’s right.  And that’s the difference between you and me.
B   All I know is, I think Kennedy was a good man and a clear-thinking man, and as far as I’m concerned, I can’t see that he was ever very far off the track.  Once they polished him off, things went the way war mongers wanted them to.
B  Shirley MacClaine’s my sort.
J   Bullshit, I’ll take you over Shirley any time.
B   She’s amazing, she’s a lot of woman. 
J   The trouble is, she believes what she’s saying, but how she can think the way she does is amazing to me.  I can’t see how anybody could sympathize with the North Vietnamese.
B   Honey, they’re not Communists!  You brought me that book over there, and if you read it carefully, it would call them Communists, but they’ve always hated the Chinese.  If we just left them alone, they were a buffer—
J   I don’t say they don’t hate the Chinese.  So what, you could embrace the Russians and hate the Chinese. 
B   They don’t embrace the Russians, they might use them, use their aid, just as the South Vietnamese use our aid.
J   Barbara, that is a Communist government!
B   There’s Communism and Communism! 
J    I agree.  There’s Yugoslavian Communism and there’s North Vietnamese Communism, and you can’t compare the two.
B   Nothing seems to keeps us from being friendly with the Russians and the Chinese.
J   You can’t be a world power and not be friendly with other world powers.
B   You talk about the insurgents and the rebels.  The North Vietnamese think of themselves as liberators. 
J   Of course they do.  Did you ever meet a Communist that didn’t think of himself as a liberator?
B   Did you know what the British called us, the Americans?  We were rebels!
J    What did we call us?  I don’t care what other people called us.
B   All right, they don’t care what we call them.  The Vietnamese call themselves liberators.
J   Of course they do, and do you believe they are?
B   We felt we were liberators.  [When?]  In the Revolutionary War, when we revolted and freed ourselves from England.
J   Well, for crying out loud, we were here!  This was us.
B   Well, they are there—[Yeah, they are there, up north.]—and what are we doing over there?
J   Why do they think they’re doing so much liberating when the people are streaming away from them?
B   If we had overcome, they’d be saying that the South Vietnamese are pouring up there and the enemies, those Reds are—
J   Wait a minute, I don’t understand you.
B  Don’t you think the Reds would be on the run from the South Vietnamese if we were the victors?  The headlines would be saying Victorious Troops Pour into North Vietnam.  Do you think they’d be sitting there if the other side, so-called, with our help—[What would they be doing?]  They’d be running, too, because they’d be afraid of reprisals.  [Oh no!]  This is what happens in any war.  The ones that have been conquered are afraid of what will happen to them.  If the tables had been turned, and if we had been able to do what we tried to do—
J   You think this is a good thing for the South Vietnamese people?
B   I think it was a terrible thing that we ever got into it in the beginning. 
J   No, no, it was a terrible thing when we had to get into it.  
B  I don’t think we had to.  This has been going on for years and years.  If we’d just stayed out of it, there wouldn’t have been a fraction of the bloodshed.  [That’s true.]  Maybe the country was ready to go Communist, just like South America has gone Communist.
J   What do you mean, maybe the country was ready to go Communist?
B   Maybe Communism is better than something like the Fascist regime that they had in Vietnam. 
J   Why do you say that the country was ready to go Communist.  I don’t understand that.
B   Because maybe the majority of the Vietnamese people were ready.  I mean they are winning now, maybe this was what they wanted.
J   Oh hell, don’t give that as a reason.  They’re winning because we got out.  [Well . . . so?]  And they’re winning because Russia and China are doing a lot more—
B   They don’t want to be taken over by China.  Your friend Howard Zinn that you hate—has said the same thing.  
J   Your friend Howard Zinn that you love.
B  Ten years ago, in 1965, I read a book that said the same thing as the one you brought over by  Eric Severard.
J   You could think of one thing that he might have said the same as Walter Lippman said.  You could do that.  But you could think of a hell of a lot of things that Zinn said that Walter Lippmann never said.
B   You haven’t read Zinn’s book.  The North Vietnamese in their teeny, tiny way have been staving off the Chinese for generations.  [I’m not saying they didn’t.]  Okay.  They’re a brave, independent country—
J  But what the hell are they doing, trying to say the South Vietnamese should be what they are?  Why do they have 500,000 troops? 
B   Why do we say that the south should have what we have? 
J   We get out, and the south should be left alone.
B   The south of the United States seceded.  Why did Abraham Lincoln decide that it should all be one country?  Why did he want the south with their slavery and their different attitudes. Why didn’t he leave them alone and let them be a separate country? 
J   I think the south wanted to be an independent free democracy just as the north was, with the one exception of having slaves.  And Abe Lincoln thought that no one could be a democracy and have slaves.
B   Well, the slavery, if you go past high school history, in fact, even if you’d stayed into your senior year, you’d begin to learn that slavery was a minor—
J   I wish you hadn’t said that.  [Well, I needed to.]  No, but you’re talking about my senior year.  Why did you do that?  Do you think I would have been so much more if I went through my senior year?
B   I was just saying that the form of history you're fed in junior high school and early high- school years is a whitewash.  It’s unsophisticated, the sort of history the Russians get.  Everything is A-okay.  But if I’d gone on to college, I would have become more and more cynical, if you will, or realistic—whatever you want to call it—and aware that this beautiful country of ours wasn’t always so beautiful.  There are a lot of other things that led to the Civil War besides slavery.  Slavery was like number six on the list.
J   Well slavery, I understand, was what it was with Lincoln.  What are the other five?
B   There was something about trade and economics—I don’t remember, I was never good at history, but there were many more vital issues than that.  The south was bitter for years, as you probably know, because they were still feeling it was unfair.  And it wasn’t just the slavery.  Their whole economy crumbled.  I don’t think South Vietnam has had it so great under this guy, either.  It’s been a corrupt puppet government.  Did you hear what the ambassador from Cambodia said?  He said, You talked us into joining this—what is it—Islam, or whatever.  We were a neutral country, and you talked us into participating in this war, and now we’re left holding the bag, and you’re out, leaving us in this terrible situation.  Why didn’t you leave us alone?
{Jack remains silent, still wounded, I’m afraid, by my unkind reference to his cut-short high school education.10-16-01, BBM} 
     Even this orphan rescue, you can be cynical about that.  [You choose to be cynical.] It’s a way of getting our people out of there.  What about all the other children?  Aren’t they important, too?
     This guy I met the other night came on so crudely.  Anybody who believes we should be in there bombing them back to the Stone Age and then says, “I told you so, you see what’s happening over there now?  It’s all because of you doves.”  I just cannot believe that there would have been such horrible bloodshed if we’d stayed out of there in the beginning.
J   What’s happening there now is that there’s more desire that the forces from the north {unclear} I don’t know why they were indoctrinated.
B   Well, we certainly indoctrinated young people to go over there and fight for democracy.
J   It doesn’t seem we did. 
B  Thousands of them would testify from their graves that they were indoctrinated.
J  Yeah, but we wouldn’t have had the problem of bringing about the downfall of our president if we had indoctrinated them as you say.
B   We indoctrinated them enough so that they went over there—
J   They went over there,because either they had to or they wanted to.  We didn’t indoctrinate them. 
B  Sure we did!  We made them believe this was a noble cause, except for some of them that weren’t convinced and went to Canada or went to jail.  We convinced enough of them so that there were hundreds of thousands mutilated and fifty-five thousand dead, and they and all their families thought that this was a beautiful, patriotic thing for them to do.  To go way over there and fight Communism, when we’ve got it right on our doorstep down in South America, but oh no, we’re pretty careful about fighting Communism right next door to us because then, maybe a bomb or two might fall on Boston or New York.  It might get a little too close for comfort.  Maybe those fuckin’ military industrialists who are making so much money and promoting and pushing the war, if it started landing in their back yard, they wouldn’t think it was such a terrific idea.
     What gets me about Watergate  is that the big shots won’t have any problem.  They’ll all get out, it’ll be the underlings that will probably be eliminated.
J   It’s a hell of a cause.  [A hell of a cause? What do you mean?]  The underlings.  It’s a hell of a cause for the underlings.  It’s for Mom and apple pie and the American flag. The underlings.
B   Oh, I see.  You’re being sarcastic.  I just don’t like to see all the big shots, including our great ex-president, living in luxury while his underlings go to jail for doing what he sponsored, [No, I don’t either.] and I think this is apt to be true in any big mess.  It’s the little fellows that get caught in the net and pay the penalty.  The big ones get away.
J   They’re not getting away.  You don’t think Nixon got away, do you? 
B   He didn’t go to jail.  If underlings are going to jail, why shouldn’t he?  Or if he isn’t going to jail, why should they?
J   Would it solve everything if you were to see Nixon in jail?
B   No.  It might make me feel better—[That’s what I mean.  Would it make you feel better?]  It would make me feel better if the underlings didn’t have to go to jail.  [I agree whole-heartedly.]  I’d rather see nobody in jail.  If he’s not going to be in jail, then I don’t think anybody should be. 
J   I don’t either.  That’s a fact that we can agree on. I don’t think anybody should go to jail.  If their lawyers are disbarred and disgraced.  I think they deserve it. Just as Alger Hiss had to live with it.
B   What is he, eighty years old, and they still don’t set him free?  That poor old man is still living under guard, right?  Was he a bad man?  I’ve never quite understood what happened.  I thought he tried to do something that he thought was good, right?
J   Well, if you put it that way, honey, it can be argued all over the place.
B   But he didn’t think of himself as a bad person, did he?
J    No. But I don’t think Benedict Arnold thought he was devious, either.
B   But what is being accomplished now, by this old, old man being guarded as if he were some kind of menace, when something was long over with.
J   Because the country would have to admit that what they said in the past is not true.
B   Oh, this country here?  We couldn’t do that, could we?
J    This country isn’t as bad as you think.
B   This country can never admit to making a mistake.
J    Well, this country has just done that, to a hell of a degree.  [You mean, like Watergate, or do you mean a war?]  Well, do you think if Watergate had developed in any Communist country like it developed here, do you think the leaders would have been disgraced?
B   I think if our Fascist president had had his way, we never would have known about it.
J    Well, that’s perfectly true.  I’m talking about the system, I’m not talking about the president.  You’re talking about this country.
B   He darn near beat the system because the presidency has become so powerful.
J    Doesn’t it make a difference that he didn’t?  Or is the big thing that he darn near did?
B   Well, it’s kind of scary that he came so close.
J    I know what you mean.  It could have been covered up, if it weren’t for a couple of people.
B   I think it’s symptomatic of a lot of things that have been covered up in the past.  We’ll probably never know about them.
J   What’s the solution?
B   I think it’s the way it always has been.  I told you about this book about Cervantes a few hundred years ago.  Spain was drained the way we are now because of the Holy Wars, Catholics against Protestants.  They hated each other.   They each tried to eliminate the other.  Lives were lost the same way they are today, the age of Capitalism versus Communism.  Then it was religion, the powerful older people sending the young people off to die, and what was accomplished by all those deaths?
J   Well, do you think sending off people in World War Two accomplished anything?
B   I think there were a lot of lives lost there that didn’t need to be.  We didn’t need to drop the atom bomb.  The Japanese—
J   No, I’m not talking about the atom bomb now.  If you want to get to that later, we’ll talk about it.  We’re talking about sending off people to fight in World War Two and whether it accomplished something. 
B   I don’t know.
J   People have to die because there are people in the world that bring it about.  Hitler brought it about, and that’s why we went to war.
To be continued.

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