Henry A. Kissinger has been bumped from the board of America's foreign policy establishment.
They counted the ballots at the prestigious Council on Foreign Relations Monday and lo, the former secretary of state trailed all the rest. There were nine candidates for eight open seats on the council's board of directors. Everone was elected but Kissinger, who was running for his second full term.
The consternation at council headquarters on Manahattan's East Side was loud and clear yesterday when word trickled out about the results of the voting by the leadership elite of U.S. foreign affairs. The chairman of the board David Rockefeller, expressed his alarms in a formal statement. Officials vowed a new look a nominating process that could produce what one assailed as a "quirky result."
"It really a fluke, frankly," protested council President Winston Lord, a longtime Kissinger aide who was installed in his council post in 1977 after a strong boost from his mentor. Kissington, Lord insisted, "got very wide support, but under our system, you can get wide support and still not be elected."
At bottom, this was because all the other candidates, including another former secretary of state, Cyrus R. Vance, got wider support. The fact remains that Kissinger was slapped down by the changing composition of the establishment that launched his career.
"It was too good to pass up," said one council member who asked not to be identified. "It just stood out on the ballots they mailed out: a chance to vote against Kissinger."
Officials at the council, founded in 1921 and for years the home of the internationalist wing of the Republican Party, said it would be a mistake to read great significance in the outcome. But a number of council members suggested that it was at least in part a reflection of the organization's efforts over the past decade to expand its roster.
Back in the mid'60, the council had 1,400 members with, as writer put it, "average age 60, average wealth undoubtedly staggering." Now it has more than 2,000 members, including more than 600 beyond the environs of New York, Washington and Boston. The average age is 55.7, with women, blacks and younger members added to the rolls in recent years.
Beyond all that, Kissinger is not exactly the darling of the Republican conservatives.
"That's very amusing," said Chicago Sun-Times publisher James Hoge on learning that Kissinger was odd man out. Hoge and other board members who were reelected got a Mailgram Tuesday informing them of their victories, but, Hoge said, "it just listed the worthies." It didn't mention Kissinger.
"My guess is that somebody out there doesn't like him," Hoge said. "They have building ranks outside New York for some time."
Other who were reelected were Marina Whitman, former member of the Council of Economic Advisers; former Treasury secretary Michael Blumenthal; Peter McColugh, chairman of Xerox Corp.; Washington lawyer and former State Department official William D. Rogers, and Philip Geyelin, a columnist for The Washingtn Post Writers Group. Newly elected along with Vance was Walter Wriston, chairman of Citicorp and Citibank.
"That's not exactly an anti-establishment vote," said one board member. "It's got to be personal. Some of the awe [of Kissinger] has worn off. And he's stepped on a few toes."
Expressing his disappointment at the outcome, Rockefeller said he and, he was sure, most of the 24-member board regarded Kissinger as one of the country's "most outstanding public servants" and "deeply regret his retirement from the board of directors as a result of the election."
Lord said Kissinger would be "would be "sorely missed" and noted that three of every four members who took part in the building voted for him. But everyone had to vote for eight of the nine candidates and each of the other eight received a larger percentage of votes.
Two board members reportedly offered to resign and "let Henry take their place," sources said. Kissinger could not be reached for comment, but Lord expressed thanks, but no thanks, on behalf of his former boss.