Five of the most interesting men in American public life have spoken here recently. We watched them, pondered them, and jotted down notes about them, mostly under blinding TV lights. Here they are.
Fulbright. Relaxed, low-keyed, tanned face. Wears Ben Franklin glasses; peers over them. Affable. Oxford. Has aristocratic loathing for demagogues, many of whom are colleagues. I remember meeting him outside the Senate Caucus Room years back when he first saw McCarthy in action. Voice shook. State of shock. Never forget the way he said it: "Why, the fellow's a boor!" He alone (repeat: alone) of all senators voted against continuing McCarthy's funds. Long ago decided it was better to vote Arkansas Southern segregationism and be a senator than not vote it and not be a senator. Glad he so decided. Under mellow irony is passion. He is also lazy. Won't sully hands with influence-trading or political manipulation. Prefers college auditorium to Senate floor. Now is most effective, articulate and temperate critic of LBJ foreign policy. Started national educational campaign. "In recent years Congress has not fully discharged its responsibilities in the field of foreign relations.... I conclude that when the President, for reasons with which we can all sympathize, does not invite us into his high policy councils, it is our duty to infiltrate our way in as best we can." More power to him.
McNamara testifying. Theoretically on foreign aid; actually, Vietnam. Strong man. Whiz kid. Power drive! Facts, facts, facts. They pour out. Likeable. Rimless glasses. Bulldog face. A-political. What luck to have him in Defense Department. How awful to have him in White House! Focused like a laser beam. In controversy all the time. Why do men like this leave Ford salary to serve country? Patriotism? Yes--and power. People don't work for money, they work for power. He administers half US budget. He awes Johnson as he did Kennedy; same drive for efficient, united, cost-conscious, IBM management of armed forces. Get 'em there; give 'em bombs. He knows the answers; knows them before senators ask the questions. How Pentagon brass hates him. How pork-barrel congressmen hate him. He's won all arguments so far. Makes them hate him more. "Shocking mismanagement," GOP leader Jerry Ford says of his handling of war supplies. Nonsense. Ford not over-bright. Some slips, sure, but actually It's been incredible what McNamara's done: a quarter million army, 10,000 miles away. McNamara smiles. "Next question?" he seems to say.
John Kenneth Galbraith: keynoter at ADA convention last week. Later he coiled his six-foot-six frame under table into hot seat before Fulbright committee cameras. Big, prominent features; scion of dour Scotch-Irish Canadian Covenanters; has a scalding irony, laced with wit. Wouldn't give a dime's worth of military aid to any country with per capita income under $200: "arming the indigent," he calls it. Says "we must face seriously the likelihood that there will not again be a government in Saigon which is seriously capable of prosecuting the war along with us." Funny how nice everybody is to LBJ; Galbraith disagrees with Vietnam policy, but it's those bad advisers who are to blame: "I'm among those who regard the President as a force for restraint." Well, maybe he is; maybe he is.
By TNR Editors