299. Notes of Telephone Conversation Between the Under Secretary of State (Richardson) and Representative Louis Wyman1

Wyman was calling for 2 reasons:

1. Ruth Farkas, who has all kinds of degrees; much-travelled; great deal of civic work (then read from her résumé); requested that if it came to ELR for him to look at her file in connection with her desire to be appointed an ambassador; she would be great. ELR said he would. Wyman then said that if the President is going to put women into any of these posts, she is interested, because of her years of travel, in Australia; Wyman added that he realized Australia was a plum and ELR responded that it was also a difficult post. Wyman said that if in our judgment it can’t be Australia, that Denmark would be excellent if we looked at her background.2

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ELR then said that Wyman was entitled to know the following, on a purely personal-communication basis from him to Wyman: that we are trying to operate within a mandate which includes on the one side a general directive from RMN that he wants to reduce overall the total number of non-career appointments; meanwhile, we get from the WH a considerable number of names they say, in effect, that want taken care of. We spend a great deal of time on the phone talking about where to fit them in, competing claims, which posts to career, etc. The question of who are among the non-career people who get into this process depends on names coming to us from the WH. If we were to say Farkas sounds marvelous, in effect, she would be treated as a career appointment because she wouldn’t be on the WH list. As a practical matter, it is necessary for her friends to get her on the WH list. If we get the name from there, we can do business.3

Wyman said that he hadn’t understood this; what did ELR mean, get her on the WH list—who through? ELR said that we deal with Flanigan.

Wyman said he had understood she had already come over, that that was why he called ELR, and asked if it had not yet come over. ELR said it was a question of competing claims—that he was being very candid with Wyman—say, they have 40 people, but RMN says appoint 25: you could be 26th on the list, too bad. We have a certain amount of room to consider who would fit well where and we obviously would squawk if they asked us to appoint anyone who wasn’t qualified. ELR reiterated that he would appreciate it if, in whatever Wyman does at the WH, to do it without referring to this information. He then said that WRH had seen Mrs. Farkas and was impressed by her.

Wyman ended the conversation by saying that if ELR ever needed anything on the Hill to let him know.

(Note: Wyman never mentioned a second matter, as he said in his opening sentence; perhaps both concerned Farkas.)

  1. Source: Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Richardson Papers, Box 104, Telcons. No classification marking. Drafted on March 22. Wyman was a Republican Representative from New Hampshire.
  2. Farkas was nominated that summer as Ambassador to Costa Rica but was not appointed to the position. (Memorandum from Richardson to Rogers, July 17; ibid., Box CL 2, Personnel-General File; and Memorandum from Flanigan to Harlow, November 4; National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, White House Special Files, Staff Member and Office Files, Flanigan Files, Box 14, Special Files) In May 1973 Farkas became Ambassador to Luxembourg.
  3. In his memoir, The Right Hand of Power, U. Alexis Johnson discussed how he and Richardson screened the political candidates for ambassadorships sent to them by Flanigan. After interviewing them separately, Johnson and Richardson compared notes and, for those who “passed,” discussed what posts might be best. They then negotiated their preferences with Flanigan. “We did not have to accept all of them, but we certainly could not reject them en masse either, since the President clearly wanted them. Besides many distinguished ambassadors have been political.” This crop of candidates, however, surprised Johnson by “how dense they were.” (pp. 519–520)