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SAM BROWN is the peace movement's foot in the establishment's door. He is the hip version of the man in the IBM ads. He is the hip version of the man in the IBM ads. He is a Harvard Divinity student turned McCarthy campaign student coordinator turned Vietnam Moratorium chairman. People say he is a really nice guy. So why does he always seem to lose?
When Sam Brown first started sneaking around to student leaders with his plan for a major antiwar offensive early last spring, his big worry, he confided, was building a power base that extended beyond the student movement into "Middle America" where resentment against the war was strong but not well- defined.
After last Wednesday, though- after throngs of so-called Silent Americans turned up at anti-war rallies- Sam Brown's problem changed. Now he had his Middle America: how was he going to hold on to it?
Three week before the second installment of the escalating Moratorium even begins. Moratorium leaders can see their constituency slipping away from them on both the left and right flanks. The first indications of the Moratorium leaders' concern came Saturday when the Boston Globe reported that Moratorium leaders were shaving away from the November 15 March on Washington. More trouble will follow when Nixon makes his major Vietnam address November third.
After millions turned out on October 15 to register their protest, the national press, utilizing the Moratorium's promise of bigger and better things to come, turned its attention to the dramatic march on Washington, the movement's second step.
Their haste to predict the Mortaorium's future has not helped Sam Brown. The march, unfortunately, is not Sam Brown's or the Moratorium's -and early this week. Brown indicated to a Globe reporter that he had severe reservations about the march.
Tuesday, both march organizers and Moratorium leaders tried to squelch the idea that they were at odds on the march. But, as Brown knows well after his McCarthy days, that's the way politics are supposed to work: first you tell the press your private opinion, then you cover it up with a forthright public denial.
BROWN'S Moratorium crowd spans a spectrum that includes the student radicals on its left and disgruntled older voters who are speaking out against the war for the first time on its right. The Washington march splits them down the middle.
Anybody could support the one day Moratorium. A strong political stand wasn't necessary; for example, Republican Governor Sargent and Dave Dellinger (now on trial for conspiracy to incite to riot) endorsed it. You didn't even have to play by its rules; Jerald Grossman, Boston industrialist and originator of the Moratorium idea, closed his envelope company for only an hour on October 15.
But you need clear commitment and fervor to march on Washington, and the loose coalition of the Moratorium has neither. Planned by the New Mobilization Committee (New Mobe), the march calls for immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops, not the "prompt" or "rapid" or "pretty soon" withdrawal that many Moratorium supporters seek.
Meeting in Cleveland in July, New Mobe grew out of the old National Mobilization Committee to coordinate the different anti-war strategies of nearly 200 groups. Of these, the Moratorium was the most broadly based, but also one of the most conservative member groups.
The Moratorium Committee channeled all its efforts toward October 15, confident that they could make the next decision after that ended. However, the Student Mobilization Committee (SMC), also represented in New Mobe, has shaped the more radical student- oriented November 15 march.
The march's purpose, as defined by one Boston SMC leader, is fundamentally opposed to the liberal bent of Moratorium leaders. "We are trying to create an independent movement," George Kantanis of Boston SMC said Monday. "Our strength remains strong as long as we are in the streets."
Moratorium leaders, and especially Brown, have never been much interested in the politics of the street. With remembrances of the McCarthy campaign churning in his head. Brown must go to bed every night with visions of reviving the anti-war movement as peace-candidate campaign helpers in the 1970 elections. Brown can see the Congressional seat in Cambridge or his home town or Council Bluffs, Iowa, looming up for himself next fall, but to keep his political hopes alive, he must keep hold of Middle Americans, who cringe at the thought of 500,000 people massing in Washington.
Tuesday's announcement of cooperation, but not necessarily full participation, in the Washington March leaves the Moratorium leaders straddling the fence for next month. They will concentrate their November effort on individual community campaigns to build a grass roots power base, hoping mild endorsement for the Washington march will not lose the radical student forces who form the nucleus of any anti-war rally.
The success of Brown's strategy is now based on the reasonably solid premise that the Vietnam War will not end in the next month. By-passing the emotional Washington march. Moratorium leaders think they can gradually build a movement over the winter that will bring wavering student radicals back into the political system while driving adult voters out to its left.
Nixon's November 3 Vietnam speech still might shatter that ultimate dream. If, as the press has speculated, the President proposes a unilateral cease-fire or the withdrawal of 250,000 combat troops by the end of 1970, probably no amount of local canvassing can convince Middle America that the end of the war isn't near. The student left in Sam Brown's coalition will go to Washington November 15 no matter what Mr. Nixon says, and his right will vanish back into its grassy under- brush.
The timing of the Nixon speech repeats a familiar pattern: Lyndon Johnson killed off the nascent McCarthy movement with his surprise step toward ending the war- the bombing halt- way back in March, 1968. Right now Sam Brown looks every bit the winner he was right after the New Hampshire primary, but once again he has every chance of ending up a loser.
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