The “down” Years 1972-74


… there was a meeting of the Joint Committee on Atomic Energy relative to power-plant licensing. These hearings and meetings concerning power-plant licensing are rather disgusting and also ineffective.

The utility companies are constantly making efforts to work into any bill proposed a proviso which would exempt them from provisions of antitrust laws. So far I have been able to block such exemption, but no one knows when they may be able to sneak something in.

Week ending April 22, 1972

The week started off with a political bang, with Secretary of State Rogers appearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and being promptly attacked over the war situation by Chairman Fulbright. Following Fulbright, Senator Church continued the attack, likening the North Vietnamese all-out invasion of South Vietnam to the northern invasion of the southern states during the Civil War. I felt impelled to remark that the northern states had not killed off two hundred thousand Southerners previous to their invasion of the Confederacy, as the North Vietnamese had done in 1954.

On the whole, the newspapers and the columnists were much fairer than the television industry in presenting the arguments on both sides. Unfortunately, however, some local papers even in Vermont carried as headlines that “Aiken Supports the Bombing.” This of course is false, since I strongly opposed, bombing by the Johnson administration in 1966 and do not favor it at this time. I do, however, hold North Vietnam and their Russian backers fully responsible for the latest build-up in the war. Whether they think they can overwhelm the South Vietnamese military or whether they are undertaking to extend the war until after President Nixon’s visit to Moscow in late May is the question.

Week ending June 24, 1972

Lots of rain, causing severe floods in several states; and lots of nonsense politically, causing a good deal of depression on my part.

With the Democratic National Convention due to start in Miami in a couple of weeks, the political situation is increasingly worse, with candidates making promises they never could keep and which, if kept, would be destructive or at least very harmful to the nation. The capital is almost besieged by lobbyists, all seeking special advantages for members of their organizations, and the mail has picked up accordingly, many letters purportedly from different people but in the same handwriting. …

We will continue working … next week, after which the Congress will have a two-week recess. …

A lot can happen during those two weeks either in the Democratic convention in Miami or in the foolish facesaving war which we are waging in Vietnam.

(PUTNEY, VERMONT) Week ending July 1, 1972

Saturday night, and L.P.A. [Lola Pierotti Aiken, the senator’s wife] and I are back on the mountain in Putney. …

It was high time to get out of Washington. The air was sultry with what we used to call cheap politics—actually dishonest politics.

Senator Muskie came back to the Senate apparently a sadder and wiser man, and seems ready to settle down to being a senator once more.

Senator Humphrey also came back, apparently reconciled to probable defeat at the Democratic convention to be held in Miami starting July 8. Then the Democratic Credentials Committee decided that Senator McGovern was not entitled to all of California’s 271 delegates to the convention, even though it was, in effect, California’s law, and took 151 delegates away from him, giving the larger part of those left to Humphrey. This restored Hubert’s hopes and off he went again, irrepressible as ever.

What I thought was most interesting, however, was the expression on Teddy Kennedy’s face right after the news of McGovern’s setback. … Teddy was actually drooling, and not in sorrow.

At this time the Democrats do not seem to be split, they look fragmented. However, they may recover by Election Day, November 7.

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) Week ending July 22, 1972

I don’t believe that much headway can be made in defeating Richard Nixon for re-election, provided that his party political advocates keep their heads and don’t start condemning Democratic candidates in a ridiculous and unfair manner.

There are many sound arguments in favor of re-electing the President, but stupidity, arrogance, and unfairness on the part of his advocates could prove to be very costly.

Week ending July 29, 1972

The big news was the report that Senator Eagleton, now candidate for Vice President on the Democratic ticket, has had psychiatric treatments for depression three times during the past decade. …