A newspaper in Pine Bluff, Ark., wants to build a monument to Martha Mitchell. I hadn't planned to contribute until President Nixon, in his final interview with David Frost, practically blamed Martha for Watergate. If she was to blame for it, then I think I will send in my check. Any woman responsible for getting Nixon out of office deserves the best statue money can buy.
The question is what kind of monument should it be? I have a few ideas.
We could get the same sculptor who did the marines raising the Flag on Iwo Jima. But instead of marines we could have the five original Cuban burglars plus G. Gordon Liddy and Howard Hunt scrambling up the side of the Watergate building holding an electronic bug outstretched in their hands.
Another idea would be to portray Martha Michell as the Statue of Liberty, raising the light of truth in her right hand while she's standing with one foot on a dead GOP elephant.
Some people have suggested that Martha appear as Joan of Arc. tied to a stake, and at her feet would be hundreds of yards of sound tape about to be sent up in flames.
Still another idea would have Nixon sitting in a chair like Rodin's "Thinker" brooding, while standing right behind him would be Martha whispering in his ear. The legend on the statue would read, "If you don't tell them I will."
The obvious type of statue, too obvious to do her justice, would show Martha is marble holding a telephone and saying. "I know it's 3 o'clock in the morning but I have to speak to Helen Thomas."
A sculptor friend of mine thinks the monument should be a replica of "Dante's Inferno" with all the characters of Watergate crawling over each other's backs, biting each other, scratching someone else's eyes out, holding on to another person's leg, pushing a friend down, and choking each other to escape the heat coming from a flame at the bottom of the statue. I pointed out that this would be rather expensive to do, particularly with the price of gas. But he insisted the citizens of Pine Bluff would pay for it as tourists would come from all over just to see the work of art.
A more simple suggestion for a memorial was made by an acquaintance who thought they should move the motel room from Newport Beach, Calif., where Martha was locked up so she wouldn't talk, right after John Mitchell was informed of Watergate. The room would be set up in the Pine Bluff square and kept exactly as it had been when Martha tried to make her escape. People could visit it for $1.
Another idea for a monument would show Nixon sitting at his Oval Office desk with no clothes on and standing in front of him on the pedestal is Martha, fully clothed, saying "Now which one of us is crazy?"
"Keep it simple," a friend of the Fine Arts Committee warned me. "Put Martha on a horse with a sword in her hand chopping off the heads of five or six men representing the Committee to Re-Elect the President."
A Frenchman suggested a statue of Martha knitting near a guillotine while the blade was about to fall on Richard Nixon's neck.
Someone else thought the memoorial should be a fountain with Martha holding the spout and water dropping out every 10 seconds falling on Nixon's presidential shield.
One final suggestion might be a duplication of the "Spirit of 76" with a wounded Haideman playing the fife, Nixon on the large drum and little John Dean playing the small drum next to him. Martha would be carrying the American Flag in the background.
Whatever monument they come up with is fine with me. If Nixon saysMartha Michell was responsible for Watergate I'll take his word for it. After all he's never lied to us before.