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Another Nixon

Cabbages And Kings

By David Landau

'RIGHT NOW, the whole world is marvelling at the friendly reception being lavished on President Humphrey inside the People's Republic of China. For another view, ABC news brings you an exclusive interview with Richard M. Nixon, the defeated Republican candidate in the 1968 Presidential election. We take you to our reporter in San Clemente, California..."

"This is ABC news correspondent Thomas Mondrake at the home of the former Vice President Richard M. Nixon here in lovely San Clemente. How are you, Mr. Nixon? It's been quite a long time."

"Well, yes, Tom, but this outrageous behavior on the part of the President is enough to scare anyone out of the shadows."

"Yes, I see. Could you explain why your reaction to this Presidential visit is so negative?"

"Well, you know, it is not so much the policy behind the trip that I object to. In fact, as you know, Tom, it was I who as early as 1967 said that any American policy in Asia would have to take Red China into account. So in that sense, I am not trying to put the monkey on the President's back.

"What I do find objectionable is the style of the meeting itself. Now, our American Presidents, when they hold summit meetings with Communist leaders, always try to find a midway point, a compromise site, to hold this type of meeting. Now it is a fact that, before Mr. Humphrey, no American President had ever visited a Communist capital. But, as you know, this President went right to Peking.

"Now it is also true that Mr. Humphrey has allowed himself to be entertained in a way that just does not befit an American President. I have read in the paper that Mr. Humphrey was a guest of the Red Chinese leaders at one of their so-called revolutionary operas. Now a ping pong tournament or a Chinese band playing American music is one thing, but this other behavior just strikes me as unacceptable and degrading. This is not common courtesy. These' are concessions."

"But don't you think, Mr. Nixon, that one needs to make concessions in order to receive concessions in return?"

"Now, Tom, I have had a long experience in dealing with this type of leader, and let me tell you that they are a different breed of cat. You try to talk to these people on a friendly basis, you try to talk in their language. You ask them, do you want to play baseball? They say, all right, we'll play baseball. You say, nine men on a side? Okay, they agree, nine men on a side. Nine innings in the game? Fine, nine innings in the game. Only by the time you're done, there are six men on the team and you are talking about hockey.

"Now I am afraid that Mr. Humphrey is in that situation right now. And I find this deplorable, because the Red Chinese cannot defeat or humiliate the United States. Only Americans can do that."

"What then, sir, do you see as the likely out-come of this trip?"

'IF YOU remember, Tom, I pledged during the campaign that if I were elected President, the United States would remain number one in the world. And, you know, if you reflect a little, you find that this really suits the American people, because we are a number one people, we are a do-it-yourself people. But if, when the chips are down, an American President behaves like a pitiful, helpless giant, the forces of totalitarianism and anarchy will be let loose in the world. And if you think about history for just a minute, you will see that a bad foreign policy leads to the collapse of public spirit and moral standards right here at home. I can't help but think, though, that Mr. Humphrey had his own re-election in mind when he planned this trip."

"Do you yourself have any political plans for the future?"

"Now you know, Tom, that I would not want to take this occasion as a jumping-off point into politics. But if the American people find that their leadership is failing them, then it is only natural that they will want to change that leadership. And it seems to me that, after this trip, the American people will be looking for a new voice, and it may be that they will recognize they want me to become that new voice."

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