STILL EXCITED over House passage of welfare reform bill earlier in the week, an issue dear to my heart since my OEO days in the '60s, I call Sen. Moynihan to request a meeting for several organizational representatives to plan Senate action. Talk with Sen. Metzenbaum about status of windfall profits legislation and agree to help his efforts to get larger take. Meet Ed Sanders for lunch at White House mess, possibly the last with him there before he leaves to resume law practice and to "be freer to support Carter's reelection." Vice President Mondale comes by to chat with us, and I offer free advice on the Iranian crisis.
Back at the office, I call Elie Wiesel, chairman of the President's Commission on the Holocaust, about what more we might do on the terrible Cambodian problem. In the morning's mail I am disturbed by an angry letter very critical of me for having been so "nice" to Walter Fauntroy on a recent TV program on the Middle East. I thought I'd been too tough!) I call the writer and engage in a long, painful discussion.
I abruptly drop the paperwork when I realize I must leave at once to pick up Ida Leivick for a 7:30 Sabbath dinner at the Ankers, old (but much younger) friends -- with candles and all the works. Good guests, good food, good conversation. On the way home, have feeling I talked too much, perhaps even pontificated, and dropped too many names. But, I talk back to myself, I'm so lucky to have an interesting job; why not share my doings with friends? Saturday
Read the Post and Times by 10, while feeding the washer and dryer with three weeks' accumulation of laundry. Nasty rain prevents leaf-raking, so I tackle week-long pile of junk mail, throwing out most of it still unopened. Make some notes for noon speech on Cambodian emergency at Jewish Community Center for 200 campus representatives from eastern states. Relating current "holocaust" to my recent Holocaust Commission pilgrimage to Auschwitz and other death camps, I tell students that their generation will not ever have the excuse some in my generation invoke, that they "did not know." We all know now, and we must act.
The rain continues as I drive home, and I start planning how to use the afternoon indoors. Before tackling the ever-present stack of reading materials -- reports, memos, last Sunday's magazine supplements, etc. -- I take time out to relax with two of my three favorite hobbies, cooking and sewing. (Yes, sewing .) The third is taking pictures of my two gorgeous grandchildren. I defrost a pound of chicken livers, boil six eggs, saute onions and green peppers, and make what Ida later pronounces as "the best chopped liver I've had in years." mI then go upstairs and make my 184th bow tie, using my own unorthodox technique. This one takes me only 20 minutes.
a compulsive news-bug, I watch two news shows before getting ready to participate in the Agronsky show.Yes, participate . Martin and the others may not know it, but I'm constantly talking to them, prompting them, rebutting them, cursing them, cheering them. And, whatever Martin may say, it is I who always have the last word. Sunday
Sunday's first challenge is to rush through a first reading of the Post and the Times, to see what items might require immediate attention, leaving for the rest of the day and week a more relaxed wading through of all the pages, clipping articles and noting bargains for which shopping time never seems to be available. Make calls to daughters Ellen and Amy. Work out plans for Thanksgiving, a season that has become even more precious because it is the time of my wife's passing three years ago. ewe agree to specific dates for our pilgrimage to Jerusalem next spring when grandson Michael will be Bar Mitzvah'd at the Wall!
I put papers away, take telephone off the hook, and get set for the "big three" of TV public affairs. "Face the Nation" presents George McGovern. Then I have a problem: Appearing at noon are both Jerry Brown on "Meet the press" and former Iranian Premier Bakhtiar on "Issues and Answers," I solve the problem by watching Bakhtiar and taping Brown off the radio, listening to the tape at 12:30. Crazy compulsive, my friends agree. But I don't have many other vices, I assure them.
Finally get in a half hour of leaf-raking before I leave for Broadcast House to tape a TV show on the recent Holocaust trip. Monday
It's Veterans' Day and the city is presumably on vacation. But my office is open (though mighty cold because of no service) and the day turns out to be most eventful. Elmer Winter calls from Milwaukee to tell me of successful project he initiated, a team of doctors and nurses already created to go to Cambodia. Prompts me to make numerous calls to White House and others for replication of the project.
Just before leaving for local AJC chapter luncheon, I learn that at 2 the president will be cutting off oil sales from Iran. I scream with delight. When I get to the luncheon, I share the good news (and titillate the group with advance scoop), knowing that nobody would be leaving before 2. At that hour, I take my portable radio out of my pocket and we all hear the president confirm my scoop.
By 2:30 I have consulted with ny New York office about applauding Carter's action, and I have wired commedations to him for "rejecting Iranian oil blackmail." Several inquiries from press on these developments are answered. I tackle the mail, put in a call thanking Liz Holtzman for leading that group to Cambodia, give Sen. Kennedy's foreign policy aide some information he was seeking, interview a job-seeker even though there are no vacancies, and ask the office staff to leave early before they freeze to death. Tuesday
The early news tells of ominous shooting of Israeli ambassador to Portugal, in addition to fast-breaking developments in Iran. Anticipating inquiries, I learn what I can on the shooting from several sources.
I spend three hours at a luncheon discussion with Chairman Arthur Flemming (a remarkable man) and all the members of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. We review the period since the Andy Young resignation and explore what might be done by the commission to further reduce the tensions that have surfaced.Three is unanimity that highest priority be given to putting situation in proper prespective, to show that the strong cooperation between black and jewish groups on whole range of equal rights and social justice issues continues to this day. Wednesday
I spend good part of morning in frustrating calls to White House to promote Winter proposal for Cambodian health projects, until I get helpful, informative call from Kathryn Cade, aide to Mrs. Carter. Most of morning spent with representatives of other Jewish organizations, exchanging information and insight on major common concerns: Middle East, Iran, Soviet Jewry, refugee legislation, Cambodian relief.
Lunch at Duke's (where I devour two half-sour pickles and two onion rolls even before my bluefish arrives) with AJC Vice President Al Moses. We review several key issues, and agree to recommend a major review of the whole affirmative action picture in light of recent court decisions.
Back to the office to spend an anguishing hour with a key member of the Jewish community of a major Latin America country, reminding me again of the vulnerability of Jewish existence in so many parts of the world. A long phone conversation with Rep. Sidney Yates, my closest friend, adviser, chaplain, teacher and critic in the Congress; I sometimes wonder who's the lobbyist and who's the lobbyee in our relationship! Thrusday
Get in very early, because I plan to leave before 10 to attend opening of AFL-CIO convention, George Meany's last. I have to be there because an important piece of my life was in the labor movement, and George Meany is one of the real giants of 20th century America. I join in the sustained applause after his farewell, and I have a nostalgic reunion with many old comrades.
No lunch commitment today.At my desk, in my assistant Karen Adler's absence from the city, checking out several legislative matters and calling associates to report on them. Distressed over new bruising battle in the House over federal funding of abortions. This is "single-issue" politics at its worst.
I block out the end of the day to write this diary. I go over my correspondence, desk calendar and phone lists. Yes, I say to myself, I do have an interesting job. I'm lucky indeed. Getting paid for doing things I believe in, things I would do anyway if I didn't have to "work," representing an organization that tries to heed hillel's admonition: "If I am not for myself, who will be for me? But if I am only for myself, what am I?"