Some Cranky Reflections on a Cone Year
Word arrives here that Du Pont scientists have developed a plastic for making bottles and other objects that will disintegrate and blend into nature six months after exposure to light. They should have made A.D. 1973 out of the stuff. That would have spared us at least six months’ worth of some of the most disgusting and confidence-shattering sights and deeds ever visited on Americans by their leaders.
If Du Pont can shorten the self-destruct time of its new material, a nation that can put men on the moon ought to be able to rush the new plastic into use for all sorts of other products—recording tapes, ITT memos, assorted bombers, submarines and nuclear warheads, recent poems by Yevtushenko, eight-cylinder automobile engines, senatorial speech manuscripts of more than three double-spaced pages. (The fellow in the back of the room who shouted “. . . and magazines, too!” will kindly turn in his Mickey Mouse costume and leave the meeting.) Vast quantities of the new substance should of course be dispatched for similar use, free of charge, to Israel, the Arab countries, the USSR, and General Amin of Uganda.
If one needs further proof that The Great Scriptwriter Up Yonder is playing jokes, fondle with your mind the fact that while Time magazine and such Republicaninclined newspapers as the Detroit News and the Denver Post are urging the President of the United States to resign, Pravda, that conduit to salvation and enlightenment, defends Mr. Nixon against such ”rude, vindictive, irresponsible” attacks.
Time magazine’s issue demanding that the President turn in his cleats and aluminum cup is a keepsake of sorts. Not because it is, in Time’s words, the “first editorial in Time’s history.” Rather, it’s the first time Time has ventured to label an editorial an editorial. Sometimes usefully, sometimes roguishly, sometimes shamelessly, that magazine has been publishing editorials for years. Refer to the issue of April 23. 1951, for just one instance. Time’s attack on President Harry Truman for sacking General Douglas MacArthur, an outrageous prose pudding of gloom and doom, proclaimed: “President Truman has brought his foreign policy into the open. . . . This policy . . . denies to the U.S. the
efficient use of its power [and] provides that the U.S. will always [italics added] fight on the enemy’s terms. The new policy certainly brings World War III closer. . .”And so on, at greater length than Time’s call for the resignation of Nixon.
It is good to know that a sense of humor still prevails at Time. The claim that this was the magazine’s first editorial rates a commendable five risibles (a new unit of measurement) on the laughability chart. Also, it reminds one, inversely, of a Lincoln story much favored by the late Senator Everett Dirksen. A heckler of somewhat dim logic provoked Lincoln to ask a question: “Call a sheep’s tail a leg, how many legs does a sheep have?” “Five,” said the smart-ass logician. “Well, son,” said Lincoln. “Callin’ a tail a leg doesn’t make it one.”
Anyway, why should President Nixon resign? He’s entitled to a fair impeachment, isn’t he?
“Daddy, what is leadership?”
“Leadership, son, is when a President asks citizens to do their duty and pay their taxes, and hopes they’ll understand when the White House sicks the Internal Revenue Service auditors on ‘enemies’ of the White House, while the President pays about $800 a year in taxes on an income of at least $200,000. Leadership, son, is when a President announces an energy crisis, threatens gas rationing. implores elderly ladies to subject their arthritis to lower temperatures, while he consumes thousands of gallons of jet fuel on jaunts to San Clemente and Key Biscayne.”
“That’s not leadership, Daddy. That’s chutzpa.”
“Well. then leadership is being President and asking the whole country to turn its thermostat back to 68° when you’d prefer to go back to ‘68 and start all over again.”
In little more than forty years we’ve had the New Deal, the Fair Deal, the Great Crusade, the New Frontier, the Great Society. And what now, the Frozen Society?