Liberty Lobby? Did I read last week that Richard S. Schweiker, secretary of health and human services, had unearthed a former general counsel and chief lobbyist for Liberty Lobby, and that the honorable gentleman wanted to make this fellow his assistant secretary for legislation? There resulted a chorus of shrieks, and late Friday the fellow in question, Warren S. Richardson, bowed out. Yet this malodorous drama need never have taken place.
From 1969 to 1973, Richardson served Liberty Lobby in the aforementioned capacities and he wrote mainfestos, one of which, appearing on the op-ed page of The New York Times, sounded the alarm to a snoozing America about the "pro-Zionist" press. Liberty Lobby and its allies worry quite a lot about the dark designs of the pro-Zionists. They also worry about "alliens," internationalist billionaries" and the odious plots that are hatched in the back rooms of Chinese restaurants. Such people should be shouting from street corners and discoursing on radio call-in shows. They should not be in government. As Jimmy Carter could tell us, associating oneself with too many political exotics is perilous politics and without dignity.
Filling one's government with capable political appointments has been a difficult task since the administration of Gen. Washington. It is a rare bird who is willing to give up a prospering profession and journey to Washington, merely to serve the Great Republic. Truth be known, our capital city is not abundant with the kind of people one wants as political appointees. The town has but one industry, thus ensuring that its population contains a high percentage of con men, parasites and propagandists for hire. In staffing the government, the Reagan administration will not always be able to avoid veterans of these ancient professions. But surely the administration can draw the lone with those who have served professional bigots. Last week, while his nomination still seemed possible, Richardson said that he had never been "anti-Semitic." sHe insisted that the unsavory tone of his 1971 piece in The Times was the result of interpolations made by colleagues without his knowledge, and in a memorandum that circulated around Capitol Hill, he inveighed against the "racist actions of the Liberty." He said that he took his job with Liberty Lobby because it had offered him a handsome raise over a previous job. He insisted that he had never been aware of Liberty Lobby's unconventional positions.
Well, bearing in mind that he stayed with Liberty Lobby for four years, this protest does not pluck the strings of my heart. He had eight years to take pen in hand and tell us all what he finally did learn about the hundreds that howl in the craniums of bigots. He did not have to wait until he was in line for a high government position to abominate his old colleagues. It is not as though Liberty Lobby's message was to subtle or elusive. But if it was too highbrow for Richardson, C. H. Simonds wrote an illuminating article on Liberty Lobby in the September 10, 1971, issue of Bill Buckley's National Review. Is it possible that the piece was never mentioned by Richard's colleagues?
Liberty Lobby was founded in the mid-1950s by Willis Carto. Carto remains to this day its mainspring and its devoted treasurer. It has always had a colorful collection of bigots and simpletons around it practicing the solitary vice of political extremism -- namely, applying conspiracy theories to every vexatious public problem.
Extremists at both ends of the political spectrum have a weakness for bigotries, racism and theories of conspiracy. Mussolini began as a rabble-rousing socialist, moved effortlessly into fascism and died trying to reestablish a socialist state. In this country, the conspiracies envisaged by the far left and the far right are not all that different. Both harangue against similar villains; for instance, neither has a nice word for the poor Rockefellers. And both see the world as a place where vast sums of money are made at the expense of the little people, you and me. They always promise to protect us from the money-changers.
National Review's 1971 article on Liberty Lobby included a letter from Willis Carto in which he lectured a colleague on the educational thrust of a projected tabloid for the meatheads. The letter tells us much about Liberty Lobby, but it also demonstrates the far left's and the far right's shared obsessions, shared obsessions that Carto sought to exploit. "Also," he wrote, "as a general criticism, I think there should be more stuff in it about the Wall Street jew. . . . Remember that we are trying to reach the Leftist goyim. . . ." This letter was written in 1969, during Richardson's first year at Liberty Lobby.
American political life is populated today by far too few normal people. Too often it is filled with adventurers, frequently crackpot adventurers. Thus far the Reagan administration seems to have stayed clear of such fidgety folk. By having knowledgeable political hands continuing to scrutinize the resumes of prospective appointees and by having those with questionable credentials overboard, the Reagan administration will be saving itself a lot of unnecessary woe.