In an upcoming Playboy interview, presidential candidates Rep. John Anderson (R-Ill.) and his wife engaged in a moment of mild repartee. Asked if he had grown tired of Congress, Anderson answered, "Yes."
"John," chided his wife, "you're not tired of Congress. We've had five children, and the youngest is only eight."
Playboy notes parenthetically that Anderson then gave his wife "an affectionate but somewhat pained look."
That exchange will have to suffice for readers looking for a repeat of the brouhaha that accompanied Playboy's interview four years ago with Jimmy Carter, when the candidate remarked off-handedly that he'd experienced "lust in my heart." The Anderson interview -- in the June Playboy due at newsstands in a couple of weeks -- was conducted by Los Angeles Times reporter Robert Scheer, the same man who grilled Carter for Playboy in 1976.
"At first glance, John Anderson was not my kind of guy," Scheer says. "Stiff-necked, white maned, piercing eyes . . . I'd had enough of that holier-than-thou attitude interviewing Carter." But Scheer detected no arrogance in Anderson and clearly grew to like him.
Anderson emerges as the kind of man those urging him to consider a third-party bid find attractive: a maverick Republican (for handgun regulation and a 50-cent-a-gallon gax tax) who is witty and easy-going. Among his comments:
"I guess I want to shake up the Grand Old Party so that it will at least consider someone with more than the usual banalities that have cluttered our political discourse for eons."
"I did not vote for [Richard Nixon] in 1972. I left the top of the ballot blank."
"I felt [Barry Goldwater] was wrong, but I nevertheless campaigned for the Republican nominee in 1964. Perhaps now I'm trying to atone for my past."
"I think the next president, frankly, is going to have to wear something of a hair shirt. He may have to be a little reminiscent of the prophet Jeremiah, in the sense that he issues a few lamentations about what can happen to the country and to the world if we don't exhibit a willingness to endure some measure of sacrifice."
"How you find [a presidential candidate] other than through the convoluted system we engage in now is another question. Maybe we should do it on the basis of phrenology. . . Let the voters feel the bumps on my head and see if I radiate goodness and sensitivity and compassion."
Footnote: When Gerald Ford was debating whether to enter the presidential fray last month, Anderson called the former president to convince him to "continue working on his golf slice" because he intended to beat Reagan.