The Sage Of Topeka


There is a legitimate argument that it makes a very basic difference what we do in Vietnam, and that all of Asia is concerned about what China would do if we pulled out.

I’ll admit it’s confusing. How can you expect a poor country boy to make a decision down here on the farm?

As far as the big picture’s concerned, the Vietnam war is the number one issue, and all wars make emotional issues. But the basic issue is the continued debasement of our dollar. What have we accomplished except the loss of lives if we end the war and continue the debasement of our dollar?

Events at Chappaqmddick have persuaded London that President Nixon is likely to have a considerable period in office to work his will.

He’s going to name practically all the Supreme Court and all the members of the regulatory agencies. So far he’s appointing right-wing people and backing liberal policies.

I can remember old Civil War men who voted as they shot. It was Republican in the North, and Democratic in the South. Nixon’s policy is not that sort—but his way is not unknown or new. If you ask me if his policy is wrong, I’d say it isn’t an unknown policy, and we’ve survived the trading off of liberal policies against rightwing men.

Maybe today, with the growth of government in our social, economic, and political life, I’d have to say that the matter of appointments is more important than the matter of policies. In that gray area that exists in all regulatory areas—as well as in courts—the philosophy of the men becomes very important, more important than the policies.

I’m not saying Nixon’s got it in the bag. Too many momentous events lie ahead. But he has the favorable position of the disorganized condition of a Democratic party that hasn’t yet recovered from the convention.

I don’t think we’ve got any new Nixon particularly. I think his campaign of ’68 followed his campaign of ’60. It’s the times that changed. Nixon won it by keeping still—while college riots built up, and disorder, and chaos. He got by with the most general statements.

He developed into quite a politician. That’s what the Democrats couldn’t forgive. Look at the way he milked that [first] moon flight. He didn’t have anything to do with the flight, but there he was getting the publicity.

Keeping current is what keeps Landon from feeling his age.

When you start worrying about your future, political or otherwise, you start growing old. I don’t have time to think about the future, and it’s never worried me. I figure on living like George Bernard Shaw, who said at ninety: “Oh, to be young again at seventy.” I want to see what’s going to happen. The whole world is at a turning point—the whole world is in chaos wherever you look: east, south, north, and west. But I don’t think I’d be here if I’d won that election in 1936. The tensions and pressures would have been too much.

I’ve had the experience—thanks to losing—that comes to few men: of continuing to live my life afterward and be of public service in what some people, at least, call an objective mood, in a discussion of our public values and principles. In ’36 some people said I was too objective to be a good candidate.

He does not regret his decision to return to Kansas after his defeat.

When I was defeated, Mrs. Landon said she’d be willing to do whatever I wanted to do, and there was talk of my running for the Senate. But what kind of education would our two young ones have had, dragging back and forth between Kansas and Washington? So we decided to stay here, and bought a hundred and sixty acres and built a house. We sold off enough land to pay for the house and pay for the ground, and leave us a nice little profit and forty acres.

We preferred the comparatively simple but more intelligent life of Kansas to Washington. There are some intelligent people in Washington. More of ‘em in Kansas.