Clip Job: an excerpt every day from the Voice archives.
January 6, 1972, Vol. XVII, No. 1
He said nothing sincerely
By Michael Zwerin
MIAMI, Florida — The Miami Room of the Dupont Plaza was crowded for some big-time stuff. Reporters were even flown down special. We all had press kits with socko eight-by-10 glossies in them. There were a few straw skimmers around with red white and blue “Lindsay” signs on them but nobody looked terribly ecstatic. When he walked in the association was Kennedy…tall, firm, he’d had his vitamins…but somehow too perfect, although that’s not his fault I suppose. Guys running the 14 cameras in the rear started shouting “Down in front!”
He stood still for a few minutes of stills. “A nice-looking family’s an asset,” somebody mumbled behind me, and they are…wife, I counted three daughters, a son, plus three brothers yet. “…But this is overkill.”
“Before starting,” he started, “I’d like to say that I’ve brought along five garbage trucks and a squad of police to exchange for tickets to the Dolphin game.”
“He oughta exchange his writers,” said the same voice behind me. I recognized O’Booze, the veteran political reporter. He didn’t look surprised when the Mayor said he would become a candidate today. The Candidate’s son straightened his tie. One of his daughters suppressed a giggle. More cameras clicked. The lights seemed to get even brighter.
“I am here because the State of Florida has brought to it thousands of people from across the country who have adopted Florida as their home — people whose hopes for a better life are threatened by fouled air and water, by economic doubt, and by an increasing loss of trust in our national leadership. And most important I am here because there are too many politicians speaking from Washington. And there are too few speaking to Washington, from America…”
“If he spoke from New York he’d be stoned,” O’Booze coughed. A big man with a portfolio under his arm and hair covering his collar about five years late asked him to “please…hold it down.” It was Aurelio. Garth, Davidoff, and the team were there too. They looked pleased by what the candidate was saying and the way he said it. They applauded often.
“Someone must speak for the men and women without jobs, for the neighborhoods without hope, for citizens denied equality because they are black or brown or women, for the bitter young, the friendless aging, and for the millions of Americans who feel their country has lost something precious…” The way it came out, somehow, he was saying the right things, not saying the right things.
State Senator Eddie Gong, who will run the Florida campaign, was introduced. Gong is young, clean, liberal, well-liked, and Oriental: “One of the great things about country,” he said, “is that the guy who doesn’t have a chance does have a chance. I believe that Florida is ready to listen to John Lindsay on March 14…”
The Candidate fielded some questions. Somebody with a Cuban accent asked about Cuba. The Candidate said that the Cuban people were great people. He talked like he knew exactly what to do about Cuba without saying what it was. There were some questions about why he switched parties. “He’s sweating, goddamit, he’s sweating.” O’Booze was excited. “I’ve covered this guy for five years and this is the first time I ever seen him sweat. It’s historic!”
“Sir…” A Southern accent now. “You say we should bring all our boys home from Vietnam immediately. If you were President how exactly would you accomplish that?”
“With boats and planes,” he said. “That would seem the best way.”
Some of the people in the room liked that, even O’Booze. It was the right thing to say. Otherwise he mostly said nothing very sincerely. Same as the other candidates of course, which is why I’m sad to admit I’ve decided to vote Democrat whoever it is. It would be nice if Nixon wasn’t President any more.
Maybe I should have boarded the bus with the rest of the press to cover one of the Candidate’s famous walking tours but I didn’t. I went to the beach. Sometimes it’s better to work within the system from the beach.
[Each weekday morning, we post an excerpt from another issue of the Voice, going in order from our oldest archives. Visit our Clip Job archive page to see excerpts back to 1956.]