August 2, 2009


(Hale Boggs (D-Louisiana) - pondering The Common Market)

Continuing our look at Sunday talk shows past, here is another long-forgotten program from ABC News, "From The Capitol" with correspondents Pete Clapper and John Edwards from ABC News. As I said in my previous talk-shows past post, interview programs were a source of in-depth information and very often the interviewers asked probing questions in search of meaningful answers. A big difference from todays spin fests and soft ball games.

This episode, from December 12, 1961 focuses on the effect the Common Market will have on the U.S. Economy and Foreign Relations with Representative Hale Boggs (D-Louisiana), Deputy Whip of the House and member of the House Ways and Means Committee.

John Edwards (ABC News): “The short term result of the lowering of tariff barriers on some American industries is going to be a hardship, isn’t it?

Hale Boggs: “Well let’s look at it first from the point of view of what happens to American industries if we’re not able to negotiate reductions with the Common Market. ( . . . ) Today we send machine tools to all of the countries in Europe practically, with the exception of Western Germany. Western Germany has a tariff against our machine tools. When the Treaty of Rome finally takes effect . . . .

Edwards: “ That’s the treaty that set up the Common Market . . .”

Boggs: “Exactly. There will be a tariff on machine tools which covers Germany, France, Italy, the United Kingdom, Belgium, Luxembourg, and any other members of the Common Market. This means that, whereas we formerly had one tariff to contend with, insofar as Germany was concerned, now we have a tariff to contend with, insofar as all of the other member nations of the Common Market are concerned. Now if we’re not able to negotiate with these members or with the Common Market, then we will, in effect, have lost the entire market we had in these other countries”

Granted, this is no inflammatory innuendo-laced gossip fest and could be misconstrued as dull-as-dirt by some who cherish politics-as-mayhem. But the bottom line is - programs like this and others like it provided a valuable understanding and knowledge of the events of the day, presenting points of view that were intelligent and articulate and did much to inform the public.

Being informed is a good thing, if you haven't noticed lately.

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