Being a literalist and a nonacademic business manager by background, trade, and inclination, I made the rather naive assumption that we were going to be dealing with the reorganization of the executive branch in the Nixon government on this panel. Therefore, you'll have to excuse me for not having developed a thesis, but rather some quick comments on that area in general--first, on the ideas that were presented. And then a few thoughts of my own hopefully will stimulate questions and discussions among those of you who are with us this morning.
I'll start with a couple of points regarding my introduction. I think the essential one is that the SOB story, you've got to understand, was just the typical government use of acronyms; I was known as Sweet Old Bob. The other thing that I think is vital to the ongoing Nixon lore that was raised in my introduction was the president's order to abolish soup at state dinners, which, in fact, was an order that was given. I was curious as to why, however, and asked him. He said because nobody likes soup, it's a waste of time, and it just bogs down the course of the dinner. It's a bad idea, so cancel the soup. I checked afterward with his valet, Manolo, to find out if what I suspected might be the case was true. He confirmed that it was, which was at the state dinner on the previous evening, the president had spilled the soup on his white tie costume and didn't want any soup available to spill in future dinners. Consequently, we did in fact cancel soup at the state dinners, and it had the enormous value of not only protecting the president's costume, but also speeding up the state dinners, which are a deadly bore.
On the subject of the cabinet government, what I'm saying here is hopefully grist for the mill of discussion, rather than a thesis that I'm trying to sell. I submit that we have a monumental problem of definition. I don't know what cabinet government is, and I suspect that Richard Nixon knew even less about it when he initiated the term, if in fact he did, as Professor Warshaw says. It's a nice phrase to use in a political campaign, but if you sat me down and said, "Draw me a chart of what cabinet government is," I'd have a tough time with it. I think it's essential as you evaluate so-called cabinet government in the Nixon Administration, standing alone or in comparison with any other administration, that you have to define the job of the president, which is to manage the executive branch of the government, and the job of the executive branch of government is to manage the affairs of the country, of the government. You need to separate the two primary functions of management. One is to make good decisions in policy development. The other is to implement those decisions effectively, efficiently, and totally. It doesn't do any good to make a great decision if you don't carry it out; and it does even less good--in fact, it does enormous harm-- to carry out a bad decision very effectively. That's where you run into the pitfalls of so-called cabinet government if you don't define it.