Monday, January 14, 2008

Oppie

Listening the new biography of J. Robert Oppenheimer by Kai Bird and Martin Sherwin--

Very biased in Oppie's favor--but I share the bias--

Lewis Strauss, head of the AEC, comes off badly--obsessed with humiliating Oppie--but the authors don't fully understand why--Strauss is head of the AEC--and Oppie is the one getting and enjoying national attention! The father of the A bomb--

A kangaroo court against Oppie--in the early 1950s, the era of Joe McCarthy--Strauss has Oppie bugged, illegally--the court proceeding is a farce--Oppie was in some respects a jerk, but certainly a patriot--Einstein told him, just quit--maybe he was right--

Prosecutor against Oppie was Roger Robb--Goldwater's lawyer in the suit against Ginzburg, Fact magazine, and me! Clever and nasty--Taken with himself--boasted of having humiliated Oppie--

One exchange with Robb in which I came off well--

Robb: When did you get the idea that Barry Goldwater was doubtful of his masculinity?
Me: In the summer of 1963--(or whatever year)
Robb: (pouncing) I have a letter here that you wrote making that statement in February of 1963--do you want to change your statement?
Me: (Shrugging) It was in the spring or summer of 1963.
Robb: (Looks astonished--after a silence, goes on to something else)

I thought the point was trivial...and showed it.

He caught me on something--I had mentioned that Forrestal while Sec of Defense had committed suicide--making the point that even government officials need screening for psychological stability-- he asked: did I know that he had been hounded by the press? I said I hadn't--and showed surprise--I should have said that he had been paranoid--

I'm told that Robb really lit into Ginzburg later on during the trial, but Rosemary Latimore, very trustworthy, told me hat Ralph had come off well--

I didn't know at the time that Robb had persecuted Oppenheimer--

It was during this trial that I mentioned that I had consulted Erik Erikson on the phone about Goldwater--he was a world-famous psychoanalyst, author of Young Man Luther--

Said the judge skeptically:

What was this Erikson's middle name?

Me (looking shocked, as I was): Homberger!

One of our lawyers said to me that a journalist had commented, after my testimony, he really knows his onions...

***

In my pretrial deposition, I said that Newsweek, Time, and perhaps US News had written that Goldwater had had two nervous breakdowns--

Robb said, you're lying, arent you?

I just repeated what I said--

The next day, the great Rosemary Latimore came to me with copies of all three magazines --all saying that Goldwater had had three nervous breakdowns--

Our lawyer, Harris Steinberg (very smart), interrupted the proceedings that day to read the quotes into the record--

A Robb aide whispered to him, trying to comfort him, we had no idea about that--

Steinberg later said to me, Rosemary's finding my sources really demoralized Robb--

Rosemary, by the way, was probably the loveliest person I ever met--

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