IT PROBABLY MAKES no difference to the history of the Republic that Sheila Rabb Weidenfeld can't spell the last name of the executive editor of this newspaper; thrones will not totter because of it, now will Congress be called into special session. It is likewise lacking in ultimat signficance that she knows little of the art of punctuation, uses (on a representative page) the word "portrays" for "practices" and "esteemed" for "estimable," and doesn't like Ron Nessen one little bit. Such matters are scarcely the warp and weft of statecraft, but at least they're of a piece with the rest of First Lady's Lady , Weidenfeld's fascinating study of her hard service as press secretary to the wife of the man she, er, portrays as the figurehead chief executive of the second Henry Kissinger administration. True, it is possible to experience a delicious small thrill of horror at the thought that, by some incredible hence as Gerald Ford's only footstep in the sands of time, but thanks to the insane flux of memoir flowing from the pens of former White House staffers, such a hilarious event seems unlikely. I only wish posterity could breathe more easily as a result. Don't Republicans ever read Tallyrand?
Talleyrand was a Frenchperson who lived a long, long time ago. He was very important. During the course of his career he said a great many clever and interesting and amusing things, some of them true. (Talleyrand was a diplomat.) One of the true things he said was that if ordinary citizens discovered how meanly they are governed, it would make them feel pretty bad.
Here's how it goes, then, the view from the top according to Sheila Rabb Weidenfeld, chattering her fool head off: after the Fuehrerbunker, Blazing Saddles . Ex-president Nixon is looting the Executive wine cellar via air mail. The bold men of the Secret Serviuce are carrying on like a bunch of goats in rut. The first lady's best friend is a book. The first social secretary makes everybody mad. The first lady's second social secretary doesn't know what a scallop is. The first lady's youngest son finds that the White House has many uses. The first lady herself is sometimes an okay guy, but at other times she doesn't seem to know where she is. Down in the East Wing, there's a big fight going on about who gets to eat lunch, and when. There's another big fight about cars. There's the burning question of what role, if any, horses should play in the bicentennial dinner for the queen of England. There's the equally burning question of how the American people can be persuaded that President Ford is actually running the country when the American people give every indication of believing no such thing. Meanwhile, Liberty has puppies; Sheila Rabb Weidenfeld locks herself on the Truman balcony; and Maxine Cheshire refuses to turn into a pumpkin and stop acting like a newspaper reporter.
What fun, just like high school all over again. And who knows, maybe this really is the way it was. Of course, Susan Ford probably won't like being charcterized as a dope and Sheila Rabb Weidenfeld appears to have either missed everything of importance or failed to grasp its point, but there's just no pleasing some folks.Doubtless the nattering nabobs of negativism in our midst (remember them?) will find mush food for thought in the fact that no one in these pages, including the author, seems to give a fig about the national debt, much less the national destiny, but their hour has clearly passed. Anyway, things were different then.