WATERGATE: The Public: Disillusioned

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Many Republican professionals, however, were bewildered or outraged or both. Said Harry Sayen, G.O.P. chairman in Mercer County, N.J.: "If this is an indication of coming clean, I'd hate to think of what is left behind." According to New York Republican Assemblyman Fred Field: "On the basis of the transcripts, there is a total breakdown of the moral attitude of those at the leadership level in the White House."

Rolfe Neill, editor of the Philadelphia Daily News, wrote in a column: "Those who wish to package lies and call it truth are tampering with the nation's soul. The President must be impeached, and these are not high crimes, they are the highest crimes." Said Francis Laping, the Hungarian-born owner of a publishing firm in Philadelphia: "As an immigrant, it hurts me to see America humiliated like this. The President thinks he is God, but he is guilty as hell." The normally staid Baltimore Evening Sun editorialized: "Richard Nixon is making Goddamn patsies of us all."


There seem three discernible groups in the South: 1) those who want Nixon out, no matter what, 2) the conservatives and Wallace voters who want Nixon to survive, and 3) those who, as the Atlanta Journal said last week, are "saturated, nay, satiated with Watergate" and wish it would simply go away. James Bryson, a buyer for a Nashville shoe store, said: "This has carried on long enough—impeachment proceedings should get under way to settle it once and for all." Ann Waldron, book editor of the Houston Chronicle, believes that Nixon has become "despicable—beyond the pale. He may have been ill-used by his subordinates, but anyone who would hire such people must answer for it. They were all without ideals, without compassion and with no loyalty to each other or the country." Harriet Arbuckle, headmistress of a Houston nursery school, sighed: "The whole thing is so sad. I feel we should keep a cool head and not burn our house down now with impeachment, but find out about the next person we select as president [in 1976]."


The transcripts are changing attitudes in the Midwest more rapidly than anything the President has ever done. For years, Midwesterners tended to consider Nixon one of their own, a decent, law-abiding and hard-working man. But the character revealed by his own words seems to many Midwesterners even worse than his enemies had described. An Illinois Republican Party professional reported that about half the downstate county chairmen are shaking their heads: "A lot of them knew Nixon was a rough guy, and they figured he was involved in some way [in the cover-up]; but they never figured he was in so deep, or that he was so amoral." The other half of the G.O.P. county chairmen, he added, are just suffering in silence.

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