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The “down” Years 1972-74
A Senator’s View
August 1976 | Volume 27, Issue 5
The proposal to raise [congressional] salaries again at this time was soundly defeated. … With an election coming up next fall, however, it appears that every member of the Senate who is a candidate for re-election (except one) voted against the pay raise. I voted against it because I felt that, with the strong inflationary trend under way, any action by the Congress relating to those who are already getting salaries of $36,000 a year and up would only encourage more inflation.
One of my wisecracking colleagues stated that the reason this proposal was defeated was because one third of the members of the Senate are millionaires, one third of them statesmen, and one third cowards. This was indeed a dirty crack, and on the whole it was not true, although there may have been an occasional instance where it could be applied.
The attacks on the President still continue vigorously and viciously. His critics are getting so vehement that they are probably helping him more than they are hurting him. …
Of course resigning from the Presidency would be the worst thing that Mr. Nixon could do, because it would mean that we had abandoned government by law and were resorting to government by demonstration. Time will tell what comes out of this battle, but I still am not willing to abandon government by law or discard the United States Constitution.
Somebody made a suggestion this week that persons making large political contributions should be prohibited from receiving federal appointments. This suggestion represents almost the ultimate in public stupidity, for persons elected to high positions in government have always favored those who made their election possible, and, regardless of party, this political trait isn’t going to change. The old saying that “to the victor belongs the spoils” still stands.
… The salary of a senator is $42,500 a year, but some of my distinguished colleagues have made considerably more than that amount by giving speeches probably worth about $5o to groups and organizations that are willing to pay up to $10,000 a speech. These high amounts paid for speeches simply represent a desire on the part of some to repay political officeholders for services rendered, or to contribute to the next campaign for re-election, and still keep within the law.
Tuesday forenoon a political bombshell exploded with the report of a press conference which Secretary Kissinger had held in Austria. … One reporter … made an inquiry concerning tapping the telephones of people working in the National Security Council, of which Dr. Kissinger was formerly the head. With this questioning our good Secretary of State apparently lost his cool and did not get over it even after he landed with the President in Austria. After the conferences here last week, Secretary Kissinger had breakfast with Senator Mansfield and suggested he thought he should resign if he is to be criticized by the news media. …
… I do believe that as head of the National Security Council Dr. Kissinger did what any responsible person would have done when he found that confidential material was being leaked to the news media and indirectly to the rest of the world: that was to try to find the culprits and get rid of them.
… But Secretary Kissinger’s … threat to resign unless given complete exoneration [was] a bit too much for me, and I suppose I was somewhat sarcastic in commenting on the situation; at least the press said I was. I probably agree too much with President Truman’s saying that if you can’t stand the heat you’d better get out of the kitchen.
The impeachment fever has been rising again and assuming a more partisan appearance every day. The House Judiciary Committee has completed its hearings and indicates its intention to start acting officially next week on the evidence of wrongdoing on the part of President Nixon. My personal opinion is that 90 per cent of the members of the House would rather not vote on impeachment findings. … The fact remains that the House has to get rid of this matter some way, and right now I have a rather strong feeling that the majority of the members will vote for impeachment in order to get the issue off their backs and unload the responsibility onto the backs of one hundred senators. …
… Thursday night President Nixon authorized two of his top aides, Tom Korologos and Pat O’Donnell, to take the President’s yacht, the Sequoia , for the evening. L.P.A. and I were invited to go on this boat trip. … White House and other government officials and members of the Senate, eighteen in all, enjoyed a welcome change from the smelly messes we have to contend with on Capitol Hill.
Somebody will probably get the bright idea that the President permitted his aides to take us on this trip and give us dinner in order to influence our votes. I can truthfully say that no votes were influenced, but I would have enjoyed the dinner more had my dentist not operated on six of my teeth earlier in the day.