If Jimmy Carter is in any trouble, he did it to himself. The press didnt;
it only quoted him. Opponents didn't; they only picked up and had fun with
some of his statements.
After the latest flurry, over the Playboy interview, Mr. Carter took
time out from campaigning to get back to Plains and reassess. He came
back on the campaign trail making headlines with charges, not personal observations.
Well, it's a good bet that most of the reaction to some of his recent statements, especially the Playboy interview, will soon die down or be superseded by other concerns.
But one thing can lead to another.
Now some are recalling other seeming Carter slips and surprises, and inappropriate or even embarrassing
men's-room talk in mixed-company gatherings.
True, loyalists close to him always have said that one of Carter's strong
points was candor. But when and where does judgment enter in? Or good taste?
The situation, whatever the likelihood it may soon be subordinated to
other campaign flaps, points up this political fact of life: U.S. presidential
campaigns usually tighten up, no matter how far ahead one candidate
may appear early in the race. And then a single mistake by either candidate can switch a lot of votes.
A bulletin of the Research Institute of America speculates that the Playboy interview could be such a mistake: Though the furor is dying down now, when the Playboy issue with the
interview comes out in mid-October it
could flare over again and "really hurt."
William Safire, columnist for The New York Times, wrote of the Carter
"A Presidential candidate cannot speak to a limited audience. He is
overheard by the whole people. He cannot use one type of speech to
Playboy and another to The Christian Science Monitor ... He is proscribed
by good taste from using a vulgarism in a public interview ..."
In London the other day the writer suffered a minor burn on the hand
and was directed—protesting but pleased at the attention—to a Fleet
Street area hospital by newspaper friends.
The experience there provided a short, short look at socialized medicine.
Not to complain, because it could happen at a hospital almost anywhere,
but ... First, nothing could, be done for the would-be patient until filling
out and signing the appropriate form then, taken to a waiting room, nothing
could be done by a student nurse or two idle interns until "the doctor"
could be summoned. "The doctor" was busy.
Can't you just put on some soda or
vaseline? asked the impatient patient,
whose burn, though slight, was blistering.
Nothing until the doctor comes. But,
of course, the doctor did appear, salve
and bandage were prescribed, the
student nurse did just fine, and the
burn was healing in a day or two
To my inquiry "How much" the
nurse said, "This is a free hospital."
The appreciative visitor resisted the
momentary temptation to lecture that
nothing is free; it would have been neither polite nor understood. Yet
Britain's socialistic freebles bulk large among causes of the financial crises,
and after another, that plague this once great country that so many of us
love. And a thoughtful American can fail to reflect that some would head America in the same direction.
The overriding of President Ford's veto of the $56.6 billion appropriation
bill for the Departments of Labor and of Health, Education and Welfare
recalls the experience of the late Marion Folsom of Rochester, who
served as secretary of HEW in the Eisenhower Administration.
Mr. Folsom, who knew as much about the financial side of our national
government as anyone before or since, bemoaned the fact that Congress
would pile on additional programs and expense even after the HEW staff had
worked out agreement with appropriations committees and Secretary Folsom was satisfied.
Mr. Folsom said his problem wasn't trying to obtain more funds for his
department. Special projects and programs were approved over and
beyond what he wanted or felt HEW needed. The big vote to override
President Ford's effort, through a veto, to cut costs.he deemed superfluous, indicates Congress is still in the
same spending mood in the HEW area that the-late Marion Folsom openly deplored.
All of us have known of high school youngsters who were promoted and
finally graduated by teachers whose main, objective, it was suspected, was
to get rid of a slow or unruly pupil.
This may not be true of,the 18-year-old boy in California who unsuccessfully sued the San Francisco school
district for graduating him with only fifth-grade reading and writing ability.
The California Supreme Court rejected the suit, but doesn't this
boy's case raise troubling questions? I think it does.
All over the country there are complaints from college teachers that they
are getting freshmen who read poorly and, indeed, can hardly spell
There are many reasons, such as abominable home conditions for some,
poor or virtually no discipline either at home or at school, uninspired and
uninspiring teachers—it's a long list.
But No i may well be, as more and more schools are recognizing by
changing course, chat a simple lack of basic teaching is at root of the problems of many. I sympathize with the
boy who tried to sue.
Miller is chairman of the board of directors of Gannett Co Inc.
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