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Cedar Rapids Gazette Newspaper Archive: August 25, 1974 - Page 9

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Publication: Cedar Rapids Gazette

Location: Cedar Rapids, Iowa

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   Cedar Rapids Gazette (Newspaper) - August 25, 1974, Cedar Rapids, Iowa                                Idol-molding by journalistic reflex The Cedar Rapids Gazette: San., Aog. 25, Beware the Caesarean buildup By Russell Baker T WK.YT TO M... change Presidi'nts Men in business smls did the job on television All of them said the old President was serene, and finally he came on television m a business suit and said he had to leave because his party wasn't with him any- more, and afterwards he left fur Califnr- nia. The new man turned nut to he a congressman I had known briefly m Chicago in 1980. Me was running the vice-presidential nomination on the Republican ticket that year, and it was my professional duty to brace him every eight hours or so and ask how the cam- paign was going, and he would grin hopefully and say he had an uphill fight but he had a lot of hope. 1 like him because he made no bones about the hopelessness of his situation. Most politicians running for elegant of- ficcs can't help making bones about their bogus optimism. Anyhow, here he was becoming President He was in his business suit on television, and the grin was still the same. It seemed to me that as long as they were going to change Presidents they could have done a lot worse, although they could have done a lot bet- ter, too, which is nothing against the man. How much elegance do we really need in a President? Views Ideas Insights Judgments Comments Opinion Page 2 What I wanted to sec was the buildup he was going to get. Kvery new President gets a nonsensical buildup when lie fiw takes over. Mostly this is given to him gralis by the news people with cascades of words suggesting that the new fellow is a paragon of excellence, sagacity and political cunning, as well as a great human being, a dynamic charmer and a first-rate father to his children. Public clamor N.'o matter how vain, mediocre or lou- tish a new President may be, and no matter how thoroughly detestable everybody may know him to he, he gels the free opening buildup. This may be Self-serving with the news people since their stories will seem twice as dramatic later when the paragon, as all paragons must, turn out to be merely human, with head of clay, itchy palm or similar character defect. I am more inclined, though, to think that the news people are merely catering to public demand here, that the public like him he seems so down fo eorffV Endless supply of dramatic fodder Literature's crush on Nixon By Norman Cousins ACCORDING TO news reports at least 20 books are now being written about the rise and fall of Richard Nixon. Most of them are by men who were very close to the President and who were themselves implicated in the Watergate scandals. The "inside story" accounts will be only the beginning of a high tide of books and articles that may last for a decade to come. It is safe to predict that the out- pouring will include biographies, psychological studies, even novels and plays. What is there about the Nixon saga that warrants so much literary attention? The answer is not complicated. No man in American public life in recent years has given rise to as many paradoxes, ironies Norman Cousins and contradictions as Richard Nixon. Here is a man who was the leading ad- vocate of intervention in Indochina, yet who was primarily responsible for ex- tricating the United Stales from the Vietnamese war. No man has been more influential or outspoken in advocating an American policy isolating mainland China, yet no man has been more energetic or imaginative in reversing that policy than nichnri! Nixon. He scorned anyone who dared use the term "People's Republic of China" instead of "Communist vet he made it respectable to use the designation preferred by the Peking government. Ironies abound Next to Sen. Joseph McCarthy, no man in government was more dramatically identified with opposition to any dealings with the Soviet Union than Richard Nixon, yet no man did more to initiate and sustain improved relations with the entire communist world. Even Watergate was full or ironies. Richard Nixon's downfall began when a Watergate guard became suspicious about evidence of a hreakin and called the police, c.nus touching off the greatest political scandal in American history. Thai guard got his job at Watergate after losing another job when President Nixon eliminated the Office of Economic Op- portunity. The direct evidence that Richard Nixon had lied to the American people about his part in the Watergate coverup was supplied by a tape recording. This recording, like all the other tapes, had been made on the specific instructions of Richard Nixon himself. A great deal of attention was ghcn during the Watergate investigation to the wholesale bugging of political opponents and even of White House employes. Vet il was the self-bugging of Hie President that furnished proof that caused Nixon's strongest supporters in congress to turn against him and that cos! him the presidency. Self-exposure Why would Richard Nixon have authorized his most confidential conver- sations In be made part of an accessible record? The answer, in all probaliilily, is that Richard Nixon wanted to have the basic materials that would be useful for his memoirs. Hut what was intended as a device In help establish a high place in history for Richard Nixon turned out to be a merciless form of self-exposure and self-destruction. Finally, Richard Nixon's own attitude toward the American people came back to haunt him. He referred to them as "children" yet the altitude of fairness, intelligence and maturity was what most characterized the American people dur- ing the entire ordeal of Richard Nixon. Autobiography? wants In believe il eel the best nf Caesar. Jefferson, Lincoln ami Koheri Hertford in the White House with each new man, and will not tolcralo reality about PresidcnK until Presidents rui> Iheir noses in il In any rase Ihe buildup was f' furiniisly in Wasliinglnn when I armed, and he hadn't even taken the oalh m" of. fiee yet. I was immediately given In un- derstand that he was Ihe cme man In America capable nf uniting the country. His sweet nature was said to surpass i all comprehension. His honesty was Lin- i-olnian; his depth nf honor, In Ca- in's; his simplicity, a reminder nf the early saints; his respect for law, llain- murabie. He commanded the affection of all Ihe congress. Republican and Democrat alike, and would bring to birth a new era in which all three branches nf government would once again in perfect harmony. It was hard not to feel sorry for the poor guy. The way the buildup was going even before he had spent a night in the White House, there seemed no way he could save himself from being a colossal disappointment before the next Fourth of July. But there was nu stopping Ihe buildup. His brief remarks after taking the presidential oath were instanily acclaimed as indicative of a states- manship worthy of the great Pitt. The reporters, pursuing the old reflex nf covering Presidents as if they are all the sun king at Versailles, swamped us with the sort nf trivia whose publication attests to greatness. What time he got out of tied. What he ate for breakfast. The color of his necktie. The precise width of his smile. An idol was being created out of piffle. Greatness was being constructed on a foundation of journalistic reflex. The presidency, which had been a ruin one day, was being rebuilt overnight with hot air. Tempting It was always predictable. The ques- tion was whether Ford could rise above il. In Chicago, in 1960, he seemed capable of holding onto his humanity even if he had gotten that vice-presidential nomination, but of course that may have been because he had no hope of it. The buildup, HOW that he is President, will make it hard for him not to yield to the temptation to start playing the great Caesar he is supposed now to become. In Washington in those first days, no matter what the buildup suggested, he was still nothing more than the quintes- sential mundane American hero the nice guy. A nice guy who had finished first. Traveling from there to greatness is a long journey, and the first obstacle to be overcome is the buildup's gift of in- stant glory. more than 50 career programs a two year hberal arts program leading to an Associate of Arts (A.A degree low tuction financial aids an outstanding faculty students large enough to be diverse, small enough to provide individual attention i fresh, new approach to education For further cnto'mdtion, write- Kirkwood Community Collog OFFICE OF ADMISSIONS 6301 Kirkwood Blvd. S.W. Cedar Rapids. Iowa 52406 There is apparently a limitless supply nf dramatic material in the Nixon saga. And a great deal of it will come to light in Ihe years ahead. It remains to he seen whether Richard Nixon will tell his own story. Il is doubt- ful, nf course, that he will tell all lie has to be careful about furnishing material thai could be used against him legally but even if he confines himself to an intimate account of that which is i generally known, the result could be one. of the most fascinating books on politics since Machiavelli's "The Prince." Another View "This pon now has so many distinguished inmates fho, (hoy request wo wear coafs and in fho moss Open A SmulekofPs Budget Account. Take Months To Pay your transaction is a private, confidential one at Smule- koff's. Your account slays with the store, is never sold In a finance company. SMULEKOFFS acres of everything {or the homo Carpel Department First Flow Open Monday 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. In Our Store Carpet Warehouse Clean-Up Sale! You'll find many unusual bargains in this sale. Ail carpets top quality, all by famous makers. New tall patterns, various textures and many colorations to select from. This is your chance to carpet or recarpet your complete home, at a savings price some carpets as low as U9j a square yard. Don't hesitate to shop our sale. Buy now and save many dollars ARMSTRONG Indoor-Outdoor CARPET 6 ft. wide. Choose from red, green, blue green. SAVE 
                            

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