To control the King, first deprive him of his trusted advisers. The same holds true with presidents and makes the current attack on Hamilton Jordan, Carter's closest day-in-day-out, White House collaborator, so worthy of tracking. The president will be a politically stricken man if Jordan is taken from him.
Should that happen it would mark the first time in our politics that someone was driven from public life for having bad private manners. No longer do you have to catch'em stealing, taking bribes and breaking laws to bounce'em out of high office. Now a bit of rudeness in social situation can get you into serious trouble, perhaps even sacked.
You may recall that Jordan's problems began a couple of months ago at a dinner attended by him and the wife of the ambassador of Egypt. Upon beholding the lady's cleavage, Jordan allegedly likened the sight to two very large archeological artifacts from the IV Dynasty. Jordan and his friends denied it ever happened.
Then a few days ago, another newspaper gossip writer accused the same Jordan of making a pass at a young lady in a local singles bar. She is supposed to have rebuffed him, where upon he is charged with taking a big swig of his highball and spitting it down her blouse. This nonsense was quickly elevated from tittle-tattle to politics when the White House released a 33-page document denying everything.
However he actually coped with his basic drives on the evening in question, the media jury is already asking if, guilty or innocent of a public display of humanity, Jordan may not have "impaired his effectiveness."
They asked the same question about Bert Lance before he finally had to jump out of a high window to save the boss who could not save him.
If, after Lance, Jordan is driven from office by exploiting such trifles, Carter is on a fair way to caponization. Contrast the president's inability to protect Lance, who was accused of the vaguest and most insipid of improprieties committed before he assumed office, with Gen. Harry Vaughan, President Truman's military aide who unquestionably took gifts of value while serving on the White House staff. Truman's reply to the attacks on Vaughan was that the president would pick his own closest co-workers and those who didn't like his selections could go suck an egg.
Amy egg-sucking around Washington these days is being done at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. Increasingly, this has become a bothered and beleaguered administration. The cause lies less with the policies it's trying its faltering best to pursue than with the ring of power groups, institutions and organization interests that have got bits and drabs of the presidential power in their mouths and are yanking it away from its constitutional owner.
That is what the attack on Jordon is about. It is not a planned attack. It got started by accident but it is rolling now in the inchoate and uncoordinated way these things go. A few days ago, a representative of a major media corporation called the office of a governor in an important state asking for "the intelligence files" on Jordan's private life. The reporter could not accept that no such files exist.
So Jordan should be warned and wary. He had best confine his drinking to an afternoon sherry with the vicar. He has seen how little it can take to destroy him and leave his master emasculated in the Oval Office.