IT WAS an embarrassing moment, for me at least, when Teddy White told about his sexual experience in "In Search of History." The account seemed at best marginally relevant to the themes of the book and reminded me painfully of how important it had been for those of us who grew up in the Forties and Fifties to communicate our sexual conquests. At best it was done with subtlety, at worst with a vulgar nudge in the ribs, but always the purpose was to let our friends know we were getting laid. To me this would justify all the excesses of Women's Lib if it were not for my bewilderment on one point: How much of the problem was the Aristotle Onassis in men and how much of it was the Jackie Kennedy in women?
Of all the Jackie Kennedy aspects of the Forties and Fifties, none was more dismaying than the women's magazines of the era. With every issues, they gave new meaning to a remark my friends and I used to make when one of us had said something staggering in its superficiality or in its sincere sincerity: "I wouldn't say that to a girl."
In an era when male journalists who were selling out at least tried to do so with some circumspection, women journalists would shamelessly puff any product that advertised in their pages or any item or story supplied by a press agent who gave them a free meal or a free trip. There was a product called a Relaxicizer-I believe the FDA later found that it had an unfortunate tendency to fry the user's kidneys-that was hyped in almost every issue of Vogue, Harper's Bazaar, Glamour and Mademoiselle.
The women's magazines are still not immune to press agents. But, then again, neither are a lot of other journals. Follow the Style section of The Washington Post and the Portfolio section of the The Washington Star and you will see at least 20 press-agented stories each month. (They usually begin, "As the breakfast cart was rolled out of his suite at the Madison, he turned to a reporter and . . .") But press-agenting is not confined to the feature section. Remember last fall when all of a sudden the papers seemed to be inundated with stories about how the Russians were way ahead of us in development of breeder reactors, stories that implied, if they did not actually say, that we better stop listening to those lily-livered environmentalists and start catching up with the Russians fast? Well, what most of them didn't tell you was that the trip that led to the stories was arranged by an outfit called Atomic Industrial Forum. Try and guess who pays its bills. That's right, the same fellows who bring you the breeder reator.
Last month it was disclosed that one Charles I. Villiers was holding tenured professorships at two different colleges. His colleagues were of course outraged-less, I suspect, because of the ethical delinquency involved than because the leisure-world nature of tenured academia was exposed. The truth is that most tenured professors could probably hold three such jobs without stretching the limits of an eight-hour day.
W. Beverly Carter Jr. has been named ambassador-at-large. His job is to be State Department liaison for state and local governments. This is a job whose need to be done cries out with just about the same force as Joan Braden's former post as the State Department's director of consumer affairs.
Having often bemoaned the fact that our best and brightest want to do everything but become entrepreneurs, I was heartened to see the other day a Gallup poll that shows business as the second most appealing career on campuses today. I fear, however, that it may be business-school-type rather than entrepreneur-type business they are talking about. What the business school does is produce management consultants, people trained in the art of making good presentation. Thus the University of Virginia Business School team recently won a competition on how to reform the Schlitz Brewing Company, and, according to The Washington Post, "The tournament's panel of judges based their decision more on how the Virginia team argued the case than on the specific proposal offered."
There really seems little hope for the man who wants to produce. Two newly named top officers of Bethlehem Steel have no experience making steel. One is a lawyer. The other is an accountant.
A federal task force has called for a crash program to reduce unnecessary exposure to medical X-rays. Did you ever have a doctor ask you about your X-ray history before he exposed you to additional radiation?
I can't understand why the government is not suing those farmers who tore up the Mall. They had a right to demonstrate. They had no right to destroy. They shouldn't be put in jail for what they did. But they damn well should pay.
Speaking of jail, William Greider, writing in Outlook about my views in favor of mandatory universal service, assumed that I favored jailing those who refuse to serve. I most definitely do not favor jail. Instead, those who refuse to serve their nation should be deprived of the benefits of citizenship: the rights to vote and to hold office or to receive educational loans or tax breaks, for example. We've always needed a way to restrict the vote to people who are concerned. The problem with the methods of the past, like the poll tax, is that they used a money test.
One of the crueler facts about life in corporate America is policy of frequent transfers that separates hundreds of thousands of empolyes from their roots and keeps them from ever having the chance to put down roots again-thereby insuring, among other things, that employes will not have a chance of building an independent base from which to criticize management policies. They are not permitted to stay in any community long enough to establish the relationships that would provide other good jobs if they resign or are fired.
A Louis Harris poll has found that "fully half of currently employed people would prefer to work past the normal retirement age . . ." This casts additional doubt on our policies that encourage early retirement in the military and civil service. Yet the Carter administration has dropped its plan to cut back on retirement benefits for government employes, leaving the most inflationary of these benefits-the twice-a-year cost-of-living index increases-in effect at the way time it most needs to be eliminated.
The Supreme Court has voted that a state can require appointees to a public agency regulating a profession to belong to a specified private organization. The guild mentality of the legal profession is simply beyond belief. What the court is saying is that a state can require that doctors be regulated solely by members of the AMA and lawyers solely by members of the ABA. Michael Pertschuk, chairman of the Federal Trade Commission, recently pointed out that "personal expenditures for lawyers, physicians, dentists, and other professionals are increasing at a rate faster than the average for all goods and services." One of the reasons, Pertschuk said, was state licensing of professionals, a process often dominated by the profession.
Our answer to this problem is to have a complete exchange between the governing boards of the ABA and AMA. Then we would have doctors monitoring lawyers and lawyers monitoring doctors. No two groups are more aware of the abuses of which each is guilty or more skeptical about the real need for the surgery and the litigation they respectively encourage.
Are there any true conservatives left? John Warner sounded like one when he was running for the Senate; but one of his first statements since assuming office was an attack on a White House proposal to cut back funding of the federal impact aid education program in Virginia. In case you've forgotten, this may be the most scandalous of all federal giveways. It gives your tax dollars to local school districts serving large numbers of federal employes, meaning districts that are already rich because of their tax income from highly paid civil servants.
If ever you saw only the tip of the iceberg, it was a recent District of Columbia budget request for $25,000 to pay membership dues for the city in the Council of State Governments, the National League of Cities, the International Union of Local Authorities, and other such groups with which the city is affiliated. What you don't see, the jagged edge that is going to rip open your wallet, is the cost of sending thousands of city employes to the conventions of these groups, which are invariably held in Honolulu or San Francisco.