1970s – Redux
“The center was not holding. It was a country of bankruptcy notices and public-auction announcements and commonplace reports of casual killings and misplaced children and abandoned homes and vandals who misspelled even the four-letter words they scrawled. It was a country in which families routinely disappeared, trailing bad checks and repossession papers. Adolescents drifted from city to torn city, sloughing off both the past and the future as snakes shed their skins, children who were never taught and would never now learn the games that had held the society together. People were missing. Children were missing. Parents were missing. Those who were left behind filed desultory missing-persons reports, then moved on themselves.”
[Joan Didion Slouching Towards Bethlehem 1967]
Outside in the streets, Arnett saw Russian-made trucks rolling through the city “loaded with young North Vietnamese in battle garb, their green pith helmets tilted back as they peer in wonder at the tall buildings they are passing, probably the first they’d ever seen,” as he recalled in his new book, Saigon Has Fallen. He watched a separate set of soldiers, from the South Vietnamese military, strip off their uniforms and discard their weapons as they scampered away.
“I couldn’t comprehend it,” Arnett told me. “That I was seeing, I was seeing, this happening in a city that, to me—it had been inviolate forever. But when you consider the kind of effort that was put in to maintain the independence, this wasn’t a place that was just thrown away. I mean right at the end, there was an enormous effort.”
“And yet,” he said of the communists, “here they were.”
Arnett recalled locals standing around him, “mouths agape.” He went back to the office. “I was just, I was sort of almost overwhelmed with feeling. … And I’d never felt that way in my life before. … But I was able to actually, you know, shout out to George Esper, our wonderful bureau chief, ‘Saigon has fallen. Call New York.’”
[Kathy Gilsinan on the Fall of Saigon]
Dean: All right, after rejecting that, they said, “We still need something,” so I was told to look around for somebody that could go over to 1701 and do this. And that’s when I came up with Gordon Liddy, who– they needed a lawyer. Gordon had an intelligence back- ground from his FBI service. I was aware of the fact that he had done some extremely sensitive things for the White House while he’d been at the White House, and he had apparently done them well. Uh, going out into Ellsberg’s doctor’s office…
President: Oh, yeah.
Dean: … and things like this. He’d worked with leaks. He’d, you know, tracked these things down. Uh, and (coughs) so the report that I got from Krogh was that he was a hell of a good man and, and not only that, a good lawyer, uh, and could set up a proper operation. So we talked to Liddy. Liddy was interested in doing it. Took, uh, Liddy over to meet Mitchell. Mitchell thought highly of him because, apparently, Mitchell was partially involved in his ev–coming to the White House to work for, for Krogh. Uh, Liddy had been at Treasury before that. Then Liddy was told to put together his plan, you know, how he would run an intelligence operation. And this was after he was hired over there at the, uh, the Committee. Magruder called me in January and said, “I’d like to have you come over and see Liddy’s plan.
President: January of ’72?
Dean: January of ’72. (Background noises) Like, “You come over to Mitchell’s office and sit in on a meeting where Liddy is going to lay his plan out.” I said, “Well, I don’t really know as I’m the man, but if you want me there I’ll be happy to.” (Clears throat) So, I came over and Liddy laid out a million dollar plan that was the most incredible thing I have ever laid my eyes on. All in codes, and involved black bag operations, kidnapping, providing prostitutes, uh, to weaken the opposition, bugging, uh, mugging teams. It was just an incredible thing.
[Nixon Tapes Transcript March 21, 1973]
“They have arrived like a new immigrant wave in male America. They may be cops, judges, military officers, telephone linemen, cab drivers, pipefitters, editors, business executives — or mothers and housewives, but not quite the same subordinate creatures they were before. Across the broad range of American life, from suburban tract houses to state legislatures, from church pulpits to Army barracks, women’s lives are profoundly changing, and with them, the traditional relationships between the sexes. …1975 was not so much the Year of the Woman as the Year of the Women — an immense variety of women altering their lives, entering new fields, functioning with a new sense of identity, integrity and confidence.
It is difficult to locate the exact moment when the psychological change occurred. A cumulative process, it owes much to the formal feminist movement—the Friedans and Steinems and Abzugs. Yet feminism has transcended the feminist movement. In 1975 the women’s drive penetrated every layer of society, matured beyond ideology to a new status of general—and sometimes unconscious—acceptance.” [Time Magazine Women of the Year 1976]