1971 Switch Recalled
6A—Saturday, February 7, 1976
Another Surprising Turn:
'Barry Endorses Rocky'
By PAUL MILLER
One of the most remarkable of political turnarounds, yet one
of the least noticed, was that of Nelson A. Rockefeller.
The point has been illustrated anew by the pat on the back
given the vice president by his long-time critic, Sen. Barry
Goldwater. Said Barry:
Rockefeller has been "exposed to the facts of life"
and has been "learning and giving up the liberal road."
Now, he might make a good president.
It was unexpected enough thai the popular Arizonan should
now find Rockefeller more acceptable after all he's said
about him in the past.
It is even more surprising that Rockefeller's change, which
he himself openly conceded, has been so little noted generally —
although it took place when he was governor of New York way back in 1971.
On March 20 that year, the Rochester Times-Union printed
this headline over a column in this space:
Rocky Makes Remarkable Turnaround
In Asking Budget Cuts, Welfare Reform
Rockefeller's change in position came as a complete
surprise. He had presented his usual big state budget and had
vigorously defended it. Yet in the middle of the
Albany struggle he shocked the capital by saying, frankly, he'd
decided he was wrong. The report in this -space March 20,
1971, put it thus:
"Abandoning the position he had taken on his budget, he now
insists that there must be severe cuts. And he calls for reform in
welfare, an area in which he had been liberal.
"He believes that there are places for cuts in costs of education. He knows that New York is in danger of losing more business and industry if it cannot provide a climate competitive with that of other states to which many have either moved or expanded.
"What of the possible political consequences flowing
from Governor Rockefeller's new stand?
"Times have changed. Gone are the days when a politician
could command continuing majority public support on the
old basis of embracing every liberal program that came down the pike.
"In Governor Rockefeller's case, he has seemed in the past
to look at spending in welfare and education, for example, with
a less critical eye than at other programs. But he is convinced
now, like most of us, that welfare excesses have led to a
situation that poses a major national crisis. The public will
welcome leadership committed to meeting it."
Rockefeller proposed an $800 million dollar cut in the $8.45
billion budget he had presented before he concluded he was
wrong. The turnaround was little noticed throughout his party at
the time. It now appears to have been forgotten by, many who
were aware of it — and, as apparently in the case of Barry
Goldwater it hardly penetrated to many.
But if this may be surprising, it still may not have been as
surprising to readers as the newspaper headline which
prompted this review:
"Barry Endorses Rockefeller."
Looking back, you ask, how well did New York's leadership
do in trying to back up on decades of spending excesses —
such as in ballooning pensions for public employes, welfare,
massive building programs and more?
But with "everybody blaming everybody else," with New York City in a mess and the state
suffering along with it, there is finally a general recognition that tough economy measures at all levels are not only desirable; they're imperative. In short, although it's been slow coming, there is a national demand for government
cutbacks. Consider how many of the presidential candidates of all political persuasions are on the economy bandwagon.
Taking note, Barron's magazine said editorially:
"The point is underscored in the latest Monthly Economic
Letter of the First National City Bank. In an article titled 'A
Citizen's Strike — Against Big Spenders,' Citibank points out
that while voters have been rejecting bond issues by sizable
margins since 1972 — 68% in 1973 and 54% in 1974 — last year
they turned down an overwhelming 93% of the dollar
amount of proposed issues. 'The fact is,' summed up Citibank,
'that citizens are telling government, "Get out of our
Angered — as who wasn't? — by lawyer William Kunstler's
shocking Dallas remarks about the Kennedy assassinations, Sen.
James L. Buckley has urged Kunstler's disbarment.
Kunstler told a Dallas "political science seminar" that
he was "not entirely upset" by the assassinations. He termed
President Kennedy and his brother Robert "two of the most
dangerous men in the country."
Presumably Kunstler's income would be affected by
disbarment, but many who have puzzled all along at vthe
prominence accorded him may speculate that he probably
would go on getting as much platform and media attention as
ever. Which is too much.
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