Now, ladies and gentlemen, let us welcome the latest star to join the cast of characters in our National Nuclear Follies: Robert Kingsbury.
You may remember that just a few short months ago, T. K. Jones, our friendly neighborhood undersecretary of defense, was discovered in a hardware store pushing shovels. Soon he was catapulted to the national security spotlight. There he shared with us his exciting views on how to survive nuclear war: "Dig a hole, cover it with a few doors and then throw three feet of dirt on top."
Then we had that popular group, the Folks from FEMA (the Federal Emergency Management Agency) who told us what to do in the event of nuclear alert. In the words of the FEMA-ites: pack up your troubles in your old family buggy, and drive, drive, drive.
Now we have Bob the Realist, a retired Army major, and head of the Los Angeles County Department of Military and Veterans Affairs. Unlike T. K. and his shovel routine, unlike FEMA and its highway trippers, Bob has a grip on the facts. He admits that it's unlikely that urban Americans will be able to zoom along the freeways to their designated host towns in the country.
So Bob worked on a new rendition of that all- time favorite: Noah's Ark. Now everybody knows that before the flood, Noah rounded up a sample of every species. The animals they came in.
In his stand-up routine, in print and on the "Today Show," Bob said that we should designate the people for the ark. The specimens will be selected on the basis of "who can contribute to survival after a nuclear strike."
Bob admitted, "The suggested plan is very unpalatable and truthfully rather sickening to think about." But he added, "I think it is realistic. We'd be living following a nuclear strike in what would almost be a primeval world. Certainly survivors . . . would benefit most by having those with skills available to start rebuilding a new civilization."
The problem is that our star bill doesn't say what those skills are. Clearly what we need now is a list of those to be, and not be, saved; the important and the unimportant.
Like the rest of you, I suppose I have my own private idea about the people I'd like to have around should I be unlucky enough to survive. Until his death, my first choice had been Euell Gibbons, the naturalist. Now my fantasies tend to include one spelunker, two mycologists, three instructors from Outward Bound and four Eagle Scouts with badges in fire-building and berry-foraging.
But in the spirit of civil defense, I would like to at least begin a "dialogue on this issue" by offering a preliminary group of people who are not going to make the passenger list.
I must begin by cutting Bill Blass and Calvin Klein. There is just no market in this new world for designer chocolates and blue jeans.
Nor will we need Richard Simmons, Dr. Atkins, Judy Mazel or the owner of any diet workshop. The major problem facing Americans today--how to flatten your tummy--will finally have been solved by the bomb.
As for pollsters Lou Harris, Richard Wirthlin, Peter Hart, George Gallup, Pat Caddell and the troika of Yankelovich, Skelly and White, sorry. You know how it is, guys, in the era of hard choices: there will be such a small public and so little difference of opinion, we just won't need you.
In the same spirit, wholesale warnings must be sent immediately to people in occupations that will be instantly superfluous. High on that list will be Internal Revenue agents, divorce lawyers and any advertiser who ever taught the American public how to spell relief, "R-o-l-a-i-d-s." We will also eliminate credit collectors, middle- managers, newspaper columnists and psychiatrists. Who needs a shrink when we have solved the angst of modern civilization?
This is just a beginning, of course. I haven't even mentioned Barbara Cartland, Ozzy Osbourne, Liz Smith or Masters and Johnson. Nor have I mentioned the men in the Pentagon. Their work, after all, would be complete.
Stay tuned for more alerts, from this, your Nuclear Follies Theater Manager. And in the meantime, if you find yourself on the ark and you see Bob coming, do me a favor. Pull up the plank.