I hope President-elect Carter watched "All in the Family" Christmas Day.
Carter has said that he does not watch much television. If he missed this particular episode, one of his aides should ask that a tape be sent to Plains. It would remind him, in case he has forgotten, that he has promised a pardon for those who evaded the draft in the Vietnam war.
The Christmas Day episode was about a draft evader, David Brewster, who unexpectedly dropped in on Mike and Gloria while on a brief visit to New York from his refuge in Canada. They invited him to stay for dinner.
Archie, who knew nothing of Brewster's background, had also invited for dinner Pinky Peterson, who lost a son in Vietnam.
The inevitable happens. Archie finds out who David is, rants and raves and in general makes so great a scene that the young man gets up and starts to leave.
But Pinky Peterson intervenes, stating very calmly that his son hated the war, and asks David not to leave.
This is too much for Archie, who continues to rant and rave until Mike shouts at him: "When the hell are you going to admit that the war was wrong?" Archie, taken aback, gropes for words, and finally says, "I still got to work it out."
The entire show, but especially the exchange between Archie and Mike, seemed dated, almost old-fashioned. Imagine still arguing about the Vietnam war when we recently went through a process in which the President-elect appointed to his Cabinet several Kennedy and Johnson administration officials who obviously, from what they did and said at the time, thought that the Vietnam war was right.
But as old-fashioned as the Christmas Day episode was - one might almost say it was quaint - it is useful for people like Norman Lear to keep discussing the issue on television, despite what seems a marked determination on our part to forget it.
Sometime in the next few years, we will no doubt hear Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger discussing their respective roles in finally bringing us peace with honor in Southeast Asia.
Nixon has already signed on with David Frost for a series of television interviews. One can never be certain what Frost will do in an interview except that he will say super and terrific. But surely he will have on his clipboard at least a few questions for Nixon about Vietnam. And surely, Nixon will never say in response to any of them what Mike said to Archie: that "the war was wrong."
We may expect, in the fullness of time, a similar series of television interviews with Henry Kissinger. Publishers are falling all over themselves now trying to secure rights to his memoirs. They may fetch the largest sum in the history of publishing.
And what of, as they like to say in the entertainment field, the spin-off of those memoirs, Henry Kissinger in a series of television interviews? At least one network reportedly is not only interested in a series of interviews with Kissinger, but also perhaps a commentator role for him in the field of foreign affairs.
What will Henry Kissinger say on television one day about Vietnam and his role in the formulation of American policy both before his entry into government and during the eight-year period when he was its chief architect? We know that he will say in a deep and solemn voice, that it was "a tragedy." But we should not hold our breath until he says, as Mike said to Archie, "The war was wrong."
Somehow Mike's statement seemed very appropriate for Christmas Day. It is only four years since Nixon and Kissinger gave the people of North Vietnam a Christmas gift of carpet bombing. But much has happened since then, and we see and hear very little about Vietnam on our television screens these days.
It will, in time, pass from our minds. The world moves on. But from time to time, we may be reminded by a program like "All in the Family" that the wound has not been healed, that three is still one item of unfinished business on the agenda of Vietnam and that is what we do about the young men who would not fight that war. That is why one wishes the new President had seen the show. It would have reminded him of the promise he has made to this nation.