GAME PLAN FOR DISASTER: An Ombudsman's Report on the Nixon Years by Clark R. Mollenhoff

GAME PLAN FOR DISASTER: An Ombudsman's Report on the Nixon Years

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Mollenhoff, who describes himself as sympathetic to Nixon Republicanism, resigned his post as Washington bureau chief of the Des Moines Register (he is the author of four earlier books, a Pulitzer Prize winner and a lawyer) to become a counsel to Nixon and a spotter of official injustices. Mollenhoff's watchwords were ""good government"" and opposition to ""executive privilege."" It is hard to see how anyone who had known Nixon as long as he had could have sustained earnest expectations along these lines, but Mollenhoff seems to have hoped he could add rectitude to the new order. In any case, what Nixon clearly expected was no substantive interference but early warnings of potential political embarrassment. On the job, Lockheed, ITT, Pentagon racketeering, Hoffa, the Penn Central, all swam into Mollenhoff's ken. Two men Mollenhoff spoke up for were an Air Force bureaucrat fired for having revealed illegitimate cost overruns, and Justice Clement Haynsworth, one of Nixon's luckless Supreme Court appointees. There were also such exercises of ombudsmanic duty as Mollenhoff's stern warning to Kissinger of possible misconduct about the latter's oldest associate, State Department official Helmut Sonnenfeldt. Foiled insuperably in reaching Nixon by the ""Berlin Wall"" of staffers, Mollenhoff resigned and devoted himself to asking Watergate questions at press conferences and assisting Watergate suspects to confess. At times Mollenhoff says the Nixon crew were ""not intentionally bad men, but were ignorant about government operations,"" sometimes he is more severe. The book combines a certain savvy about Washington machinations with an injured innocence; the latter arises when Mollenhoff refers to political in-fights as ""lack of effective communications."" Despite this season's saturation with Nixoniana, the Mollenhoff name will draw an audience.

Pub Date: Jan. 26th, 1975
Publisher: Norton