AUGUST 15, 1960
HYDE PARK—I cannot help wondering what Premier Khrushchev can be planning in relation to the forthcoming Powers espionage trial.
Anyone engaged in flying a plane for reconnaissance purposes knows what risks he takes and should be well schooled on how to behave under whatever circumstances occur. He should also be well prepared beforehand for the possibility of capture and should know that anyone engaged as a spy runs the risk of being sentenced to death. Hence when Khrushchev grants visiting visas for the flyer's parents and when the father says that the Premier has promised to help him, it strikes me that Khrushchev is planning to use this opportunity for some propaganda purpose.
Possibly the lawyers and judges will agree that young Powers is guilty of spying and that under the law he should be sentenced to death. Khrushchev may then make some grand gesture of magnanimity, to prove to the people of the U.S. how forgiving the Soviets are and how much they want peace between us. On the other hand, he may think it sufficient to allow the parents and the wife to come over to see the boy before he dies. He may feel that this is enough of a gesture and he may want to warn all others who may try to follow in Powers' footsteps that there is an inevitable end for those who are captured. I would judge this to be the more normal way for Khrushchev to think, except that propaganda-wise it would bring comparatively little comment either here or abroad—and of course the gentleman is very conscious of the propaganda effects he wants in the world. In any case, the trial should not take very long, since Powers himself has apparently made a complete confession.
To judge by the newspaper accounts, neither political party nor any of the candidates seems particularly happy about this special session of Congress. It is tragic, I think, that where a matter of such importance as the minimum wage comes up and one of the candidates speaks, the majority of Senate members have left to go home to dinner. It seems to me that this is a great lack of courtesy on the part of members of both parties. True, the Republicans know that their candidate can sit with dignity and never be engaged in a controversy of a speech on the floor. But the Democrats should realize that it does not enhance the importance of their candidate for him to be left addressing empty seats.
Senator Kennedy made an excellent presentation that was packed with information, and it was not his fault that the Senators did not stay to listen. As expected, Senator Goldwater opposed Senator Kennedy's proposal to raise the minimum wage from $1.00 to $1.25 an hour over a three-year period. But then, I can think of nothing in the way of welfare for the worker or the less fortunate members of society which Senator Goldwater at some point does not think harmful to the American ideal.