Crooked Finger (crookedfingers) wrote,
Crooked Finger

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Journals 1973

"February 5
We arrived back in New York in time for Norman Mailer's 50th birthday party at the Four Seasons. In an act of monumental impertinence, he decided to charge his guests $50 per couple. We declined to go, but then Jean Campbell sent us some tickets. The restaurant was crowded with a wild variety of people-from the Javitses and the editors of Time and Newsweek through Jessica Mitford and Lord and Lady Melchett to a flock of hippies and ex-hippies. The high point was supposed to be a speech in which Norman was billed as making a world-shaking announcement. But the birthday boy, evidently trusting to charisma and afflatus, gave a most disconnected series of remarks, beginning with a dirty joke that turned off some of the audience and concluding with a proposal for a "people's FBI" and a "people's CIA" to investigate the government's FBI and CIA. Among other things, this proposal was some years late. The FBI and CIA are far from sacrosanct institutions now, and it requires no particular audacity to attack them. The speech was a disaster, and we left as speedily as possible. Norman is a most gifted writer who should stick to writing. He is a victim of a society that consumes writers not as writers but as public personalities; it must be added that he is a self-chosen victim, and only half the blame attaches to the society.

April 28

Teddy, who was confronting an interview with Scotty Reston Thursday afternoon on the Kennedy legacy after ten years, wanted to have a talk about all this, so we had an early breakfast Thursday morning before I left to catch a plane for Palm Beach. Our conversation was almost entirely about the past rather than the future. There were some digressions into the present, however, when we saw the headlines in the Washington Post underneath large pictures of John Mitchell, bluff and unctuous, and those two all-American boys John Dean and Jeb Stuart Magruder. According to the story, Magruder had now implicated Mitchell and Dean in the Watergate affair. This gave us intense pleasure. There is something splendidly comic in the disclosure that this most righteous and moralistic of all administrations, after five years of going on about its supreme devotion to law and order, was really a collection of third-rate crooks, all beginning now to rat on each other. It is the ultimate impertinence on Nixon's part, after months of denial and cover-up, now to cast himself as the zealous investigator who, as he said on television. Tuesday, was intent only on finding out the truth. Ted cannot believe that he did not know about and approve the campaign of espionage and sabotage, nor can I."

from "Journals 1952-2000" by Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr..

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