V: There will be an avalanche, and I mean an avalanche, of protest in every
newspaper in this country. I have absolutely no doubt we've postponed, as the
letter we've sent to you pointed out, for a two year period listened to their
complaints and their woes and done everything we possibly could to accommodate
their requirements and we have allowed them to meet their goals in performance
standards in several ways rather than the air bag. Now I suggest to you, John,
very sincerely that I think the President and John Volpe and this Department
particularly will receive some of the worst editorial comments that we have
seen in this area because ... well, we've had plenty of them recently because
we eased up on the farm (foreign?) drivers situation because of a great many
requests and we're reviewing it again. We eased up in two or three other areas
where industry convinces (?) like I mentioned to you on the bumper situation
because industry convices (?) they couldn't meet the five miles an hour -- two
and a half is the best they could do. We eased up on that and so forth and
instead of getting patted on the back because we would establish a standard we
got knocked because we supposedly got in bed with the manufacturers
E: Well, I appreciate that the Nader element is very ____________ with their
public relations and with their access to the press. At the same time the
controlling consideration here ... the two controlling considerations as far as
the President's concerned are, first of all, the showing that was made to him
that the idea is not a good idea -- number one and basic. Number two that we're
dealing here with an industry which are basically our friends.
Not, Mr. Ford isn't your friend.
He sure is
Well, you know what he did in 1960 and what he did in 1964.
Yes sir, but I know where he is today. I know exactly where he is today. The
point here is that pleasing Ralph Nader doesn't get us anything.
It isn't Ralph Nader I'm worried about. Christ, I've kicked him in the teeth
several times. Ralph Nader doesn't bother me a damn bit. What I'm concerned
about is the editorials of the newspapers of this nation.
Well, apparently, the President's willing to take that heat.
...the President will take the heat, it's John Volpe, as you know, unless, of
course, the story gets out ...won't get out from here, but these damn things
have a way of leaking that we're ordered to do it.
Well, I have no doubt that that will be apparent before we're all done. The
situation here though is not one of having any lattitude as far as I'm
concerned. I have very definite instructions from the President on this and the
only thing that I can do is reconfirm to you the thing that I said to Charley
Baker the other day which was very clear that the President wanted the order
Well, John, I don't know what to say to you, I'm trying to do a job over here,
as you know. I frankly don't think the President has both sides of the story.
Maybe our letter wasn't as good as it should have been. I will admit that I was
working on a hell of a lot of other things when I signed this letter,
Well, I don't think it's a question of that and I'm sure he doesn't want to get
into a trial court situation where he has to sit and listen to both sides and
then render a judgment for somebody and against somebody else.
It's a natural course, John.
It's a situation where people have come to him with a complaint where there's a
very, very short time schedule. We're, what, three days away from the
Yeah...but we had two years in which to do it.
Well, that may be,- but he feels that the selling was sufficiently strong that
they should not be compelled to litigate that rather than that there should a
suspensionary (?) order to obviate the necessity of litigating and that there
should be a further examination of the problem because he doesn't feel that the
solutions to which the bureau has come are reasonable solutions in the
premises. Now, the bureau has a number of arguments, one of which interestingly
enough in the memorandum, is that the manufacturers don't object to this. Well,
we know from the personal representations of these top people that the
manufacturers very vigorously do object to it.
Well, you and I know damn well, John, I was in industry I know how I fought
occupational health hazard regulations on the part of the government.
And you're going to fight. In industry you fight for anything you can get.
Well, but there was an affirmative representation in the memorandum that just isn't
borne out. Now that's a minor point.
After we modified it, John, I'll be very truthful with you, after we modified
this and gave them...I spoke to Ed Cole about this at Fairfax (? ), he said if
you can do it this way so that we're given the options and you can put this off
until 1973 we can meet it.
Cole told me out there ...
I understand, but more recently both Ford and GM strongly... the point here is
simply that the President has temporarily made his mind up at least through
next Monday he does not want this order to remain in effect to compel these
people to litigate. Now what happens after that I would say is an open
question, but he definitely does want the order suspended as of today.
Well, is it possible, legally I can't determine, John, because I'm not a
lawyer. But if we postpone the effective date for 30 days does that give the
auto industry the additional 30 days and then give us a chance to further
examine and present this case so that a decision can be made then to well,
fine, we haven't made the case and the President decided this is the way he
wants to go or that yes he's seen our side of the story
I don't know
Seen everything and so forth
I don't know the answer to that. That's something your General Counsel would
have to tell you. The only thing I can put it in terms of is the end result
That you don't want the manufacturers to be able or have to go into court on
And if a postponement of 30 days prevents them from having to go into court on
Monday that would give us a chance to see what can be worked out if anything
can be worked out that will accommodate the situation without the kind of
avalanche of protest that I'm sure will come down around our necks.
Well, the whole point here as far as the scope of my instructions is concerned
is that I'm instructed to advise you that the President desires that the order
be suspended . Now the reason for it is that he does not want them to be forced
to litigate on Monday. The additional reason is that on the selling that has
been made thus far he is persuaded that it is not a reasonable regulation. Now
whether the suspension should be 30 days or indefinitely or permanently or what
it should be I'm not prepared to say.
Well, let me check with my General Counsel, John, and I think that what the
President decides can be accomplished by the postponement...in other words,
they have to protect themselves within a certain time frame, right?
That's correct. And as long as it's postponed and they have that additional 30
days beyond Monday which is the final day in which to enter a decree or
Well, as you say, that's a technical question and I just don't know the answer
Well, I know what the President has asked you to do and you're carrying out his
instructions. I personally think it's a mistake but I will comply with it and
check with my General Counsel to see whether or not the 30 day suspension is
valid and can be done.
Alright, then would ask him to just give us a call and let us know which way
he plans to proceed.