MARCH 12, 1962
PARIS—Back in Paris after an easy trip from Zurich last night, the youngest members of the party went out for more entertainment, but I have discovered that entertainment means less to me than a good night's sleep.
France is still very Algeria-conscious. Even the driver of the car coming in from the airport was ready to tell us the latest news from Algeria.
The papers here chronicle Mrs. Kennedy's every move in Rome. Though they begin their article by saying she is arriving as a tourist, the quickly add she will be given the same treatment as any chief of state.
One cannot help but sympathize with members of the President's family who go on a trip of this kind. They would undoubtedly enjoy being given the privilege of looking at the ordinary sights a tourist sees and gradually forming their own opinion as to the condition of the people or the general feeling on any particular point they want to find out about. But this is almost an impossibility, for every foreign country is concerned about the safety of a member of the President's family.
The ideal would be if one could be given the extra little attentions, such as getting through customs quickly, but allowed unobtrusively to do most of the things that interest one without the entourage that usually accompanies a visitor of importance in a foreign country. I imagine the men get away from supervision more quickly than the women. But I am quite sure the President's sisters and his wife are good observers and, if given the chance, might discover things which none of the top people in our embassies get a chance to observe for themselves. Lower down the echelon there probably are a great many of our unheralded personnel who could give such highlights on general conditions and trends of thinking. But these are the people who are seldom seen or heard except by their immediate superiors, and usually they are primarily interested in meeting the routine requirements of their service.
From newspaper reports, a recent Gallup poll would indicate that if Mr. Nixon really means that he is not in the running at the next Republican convention, then the choice lies between Gov. Rockefeller and Sen. Goldwater, and the margin has narrowed considerably between them. This will make the Republican convention much more interesting than it has been in the last few years because it will indicate whether the party as a whole believes it should be clearly reactionary and ultra conservative, or reflect the slightly more liberal views, in certain areas, held by Gov. Rockefeller.
Of course, the Republican party is looking frantically for someone who may still not draw the line too clearly between Republicans and Democrats. A good many people think that should George Romney of Michigan be elected Governor of that state he might be one of the contestants at the convention. But this seems hardly credible. Mr. Romney will have had a very short time to show whether or not he is an able Governor, and it is not likely that the Republicans would want to put a man of such slight experience into the position of President or make him the nominee. Politics may be partly a question of instinct and imagination, but experience has something to do with it too. It takes time for a newcomer to learn to gauge public opinion, to watch people, to react, often unconsciously, to the waves of feeling in the atmosphere, and to acquire that sense of timing without which few politicians are ever really successful.
Some hold that a President need not be a politician. But the fact is that he is the leader of a political party, and hence it seems to me that if for the first time in many years the Republican party decides to come out firmly as ultra conservative, it will not be likely to choose a middle-of-the-road, untried politician.
To be sure, the choice between Rockefeller and Goldwater is likely to be made difficult by a number of factors heretofore unresolved in a political convention. But the choice between Goldwater and Romney will be a most interesting one. Many of those for Mr. Romney will say he is the best man and therefore does not have to be primarily a politician, but unfortunately the political party, usually to a great extent, governs whoever holds political office.
All of this means that the next few months are going to be very interesting for the rank and file of the Republican party. The cleavage between ultra conservative and middle-of-the-road liberals is going to be full of controversy, and for once the Democrats—whose ranks this time seem to be undivided—can sit back and calmly watch.