Election 1944: Thomas L. Stokes columns

The Pittsburgh Press (July 24, 1944)


Stokes: Democrats try to please all but nobody’s quite happy

Concessions made to various groups intended to keep party from falling apart
By Thomas L. Stokes, Scripps-Howard staff writer

Washington –
The Democratic Party goes into the campaign tossing “asides” to Right and Left – spelled with capital letters – like a character in an old-fashioned melodrama.

In its ticket, its platform and otherwise, it made compromises to try to hold together, for another election, a party vehicle that is beginning to fall apart.

Party leaders, operating under orders from President Roosevelt, threw concessions here and there, like fading bouquets. Everybody got something, but nobody is quite happy.

The South was gratified at the dropping of Vice President Henry Wallace, which was relished the more because they were permitted to kill him off in the public arena. Pleasing to the South, too, was the omission in the platform of a specific indictment of the poll tax and a declaration for granting the vote to the Negroes in the South, although they protested mildly at even the generalized form of the plank.

Texas still raging

Mississippi and South Carolina seem to be back in the fold. But Texas is still out, rampant and raging. And there is talk of promoting a third party in the South to rally about Senator Byrd of Virginia if he will permit it – which is doubtful.

Negro organization leaders resented the appeasement of the Southerners by failure to condemn various restrictions and discriminations by name, as had the Republicans, and in the ousting of the Vice President, whom they recognize as a champion. The chief hope of the Democrats to hold a substantial part of the Negro vote is that the proven interest of President and Mrs. Roosevelt in their welfare may outweigh the clear-cut commitments by the Republicans.

CIO discouraged

Staunch New Dealers and labor lost Henry Wallace, but in Senator Harry S. Truman they got a much more acceptable second man than they might have if the Southerners and conservatives had gotten their full head.

But CIO leaders and the rank and file were discouraged over the outcome of the convention, more so, perhaps, than the facts warranted. For at this, the first convention since creation of their political agency – the CIO Political Action Committee – they did very well, all in all.

They still have much to learn about politics, although they are progressing fast. They lost their best trading point when they came out for President Roosevelt well ahead of the convention and upon this the President capitalized in his calculations.

Gesture of appeasement

The easing out of Vice President Wallace was a gesture of appeasement to businessmen and middle-class folks from whom Democrats expect to attract votes this year on account of the war, but who were represented as likely to refuse to vote for the President if Mr. Wallace were kept in the line of succession to the White House.

There’s a lot of talk about this group and its hostility to the Vice President. How large it is no one seems to know. It is just possible, of course – and this is one of the risks of political compromise – that it might be offset by workers who might stay away from the polls due to the rejection of Mr. Wallace, either through indifference or because of the failure of CIO political organizers to be as zealous as they would if he were on the ticket.

The Pittsburgh Press (July 25, 1944)


Herbert Brownell indicates –
Stokes: Democrats’ disunity offers real opportunity for GOP

Republican cautious in angling for votes
By Thomas L. Stokes, Scripps-Howard staff writer

Washington –
Republicans believe they have found a rich opportunity in the division and disunity in the Democratic Party which required so many compromises at its convention.

They realize, however, that some care is necessary, as was indicated by the cautious attitude of National Chairman Herbert Brownell Jr. at a press conference here.

Without any particular effort, Republicans will get some benefit in the natural course.

GOP has three choices

But, if they angle actively to attract various disgruntled elements, they will have somewhat of a problem. For it is a wide reach between the Texans, for example, whom they would like to inveigle into their ranks, on one hand, and on the other, the Negroes and the CIO labor vote in large Eastern centers, as the Democrats have discovered.

Republicans have three choices, it would seem. They might do nothing, taking advantage of a natural drift to them here and there. They might be all things to all men, with a policy of expediency and opportunism. Or they might formulate a progressive program, consistent and straightforward, in the effort to become the real progressive party and lure much of that strength from the Democratic Party.

Governor Dewey is certainly handed the chance to rise above GOP old guardism.

Expects UMW support

In his press conference, Mr. Brownell forecast a big swing of labor in the industrial states to the Republicans. He said he expected considerable support from miners in the United Mine Workers, John L. Lewis’ union, and also looked for some support from CIO members, despite the leadership’s adherence to President Roosevelt.

He thought the Texas revolt was so vociferously expressed at the Democratic Convention that it was not necessary for him to comment on that situation; but he did add that Republicans expected to campaign actively there.

As one of the “highlights” of the Democratic Convention, he said in a statement:

Control of the Democratic Party rests wholly with two elements – the bosses of the corrupt, big-city machines and the radical left-wingers who are closer to Communism than to any other political philosophy.

Refuses to name names

But when asked to name names, he refused. He thought the newspapermen before him knew who he meant, he said. He added that he would have something to say later about these groups.

It was noted that he omitted in the controlling groups the Southern conservatives who forced the Democratic Party to compromise on the Negro issue in the platform and who furnished the votes that defeated Vice President Wallace. The Southerners became a real factor in the party again at the convention.

It was obvious from Mr. Brownell’s caginess that the party leaders have not yet decided just how they will go about the job of trying to capitalize upon what he called “the dissension, backbiting and double-crossing” in the Democratic Convention, just how they can appeal to the Southerners and still nurture the Negro and progressive vote, just how far they can go in condemning “radical left-wingers” without giving affront to rank-and-file workers in big cities.

The Pittsburgh Press (July 26, 1944)


Tolerance and restraint needed –
Stokes: 1944 campaign may be bitterest in history

Need for safeguarding American ideals puts extra responsibility on everybody
By Thomas L. Stokes, Scripps-Howard staff writer

Washington –
Evidence is accumulating that this presidential campaign is going to be one of the bitterest in history unless there is a vigilant exercise of tolerance and restraint all around.

It would seem to put an extra responsibility on everybody – on political leaders and civic leaders, on business leaders and labor leaders, on newspapers and radio, and on the individual voter, himself. For much is at stake, much precious to democracy and its ideals and forms, in the way this campaign is conducted.

The Chicago Democratic Convention has come in for much panning on various counts.

The usual spectacle

It was the usual spectacle, with its bright and its shabby aspects, its hysterics and his histrionics, its political trickery and its higher moments such as that when Vice President Henry A. Wallace stepped to the platform. It was very much like the 11 other national conventions observed by this writer since 1924. It was the same noisy, stumbling, hilarious performance that American political conventions always have been. We take our democracy that way. We like it, and it works.

There was much talk of one-man domination of the convention by President Roosevelt. After all, he is the leader of his party, and a President in office seeking renomination usually dominates the convention, as did Mr. Coolidge and Mr. Hoover in my time.

One man dominated the Republican Convention in Chicago a few weeks ago, too. Governor Thomas E. Dewey sat at the telephone in Albany to direct his own nomination for an office for which he had never acknowledged his candidacy, which is acceptable procedure in American politics.

Picked running mate

He had his handpicked candidate for the vice-presidential nomination, California Governor Earl Warren, and the convention would have taken him in a minute, except that he didn’t want the job. Ohio Governor John W. Bricker, who took it, had to have Mr. Dewey’s approval before the convention took him.

Each party got the candidate for President that the rank-and-file party members wanted overwhelmingly, according to the polls, and it has not always been that way. Democrats did not get the vice-presidential candidate who led in the polls, but the selection was thrown open to the convention, as so many had advocated, and went for more than one ballot – one of the few times it had done so in modern history.

Everybody had a run for his money, though the party leaders exercised pressure in the end, as so often happens.

GOP also has bosses

Much has been made of the big-city Democratic bosses, and few would defend them. They always have been a sordid phase of our democracy. Republicans also have their bosses, the Pews and the Grundys, representing wealth, and the Creagers and the other Southern losses with their “kept” delegations at national conventions. They once had big city bosses, too, but they haven’t been able to carry the big cities in recent years.

No party has a monopoly of virtue or villainy.

A great uproar has been raised over the attempt of labor to have a voice at the Democratic Convention through its CIO Political Action Committee directed by Sidney Hillman. Farmers and other groups have always been around conventions, and I saw embattled farmers try to storm the 1932 Republican Convention, but without success. The Grundys and the Pews have been around, too.

Mr. Hillman has been held up to opprobrium because he was born in Lithuania though this country had advertised as one of its cardinal tenets that it is a refuge for people from everywhere.

The foreign names in the CIO-PAC are recited. They read about the same as the all-American football team, or the roster of a company of American boys fighting in Normandy or the South Pacific, and like the casualty list of G.I. Jims that Clare Boothe Luce read to the Republican Convention…

Smith, Martof, Johnston, Chang, Novak, Leblanc, Konstantakis, Yamada, O’Toole, Svendsen, Sanchez, Potavin, Goldstein, Rossi, Nodal, Wroblewski, McGregor, Schneider, Jones–

The Pittsburgh Press (July 27, 1944)


Stokes: South Carolina vote quiets tumult of ‘Southern revolt’

‘Cotton Ed’ Smith’s defeat indicates politicians do not speak for people
By Thomas L. Stokes, Scripps-Howard staff writer

Washington –
The tumult of the so-called “Southern revolt” at the Chicago Democratic Convention by Texans and some others fades away into more true perspective when the people go to the polls, as they did in South Carolina Tuesday.

It is no minor political incident when the people of South Carolina, after 36 years, deposed “Cotton Ed” Smith, dean of the Senate. For no man is so much a symbol of anti-New Dealism, none so unforgiving of the Roosevelt regime, as the blunt and uncompromising man with the bristly mustache.

This would appear to indicate that perhaps the politicians who speak for the dominant business and economic interests and who serve in handpicked delegations at national conventions, do not truly represent the people of the South.

South Carolina good index

South Carolina is a good index, but it is not isolated.

This mild revolution among the people, which has gone along while the political leaders were plotting their little plots, has been showing itself for some months. In happened in Alabama and Florida in early May when New Deal Senators Lister Hill and Claude Pepper won against aggregations of finance in noisome campaigns in which the Negro issue was exploited against them.

It happened when Rep. Joe Starnes (D-AL), a member of the Dies Committee, was defeated with the help of the CIO. It was sensed by Rep. Martin Dies (D-TX) when he withdrew in the face of threats embodied in war workers who had moved into his district and were organized by the CIO. It happened to Texas last Saturday when Rep. Richard M. Kleberg, a bitter-end anti-New Dealer, was defeated.

Mrs. Caraway loses out

On Tuesday, Mrs. Hattie Caraway, the only woman Senator, was defeated in Arkansas, and a fresh young political figure, Rep. J. W. Fulbright (author of the international collaboration resolution passed by the House some months ago), emerged as top contestant for her place, with a runoff necessary, however.

Also, Negroes voted in the Arkansas primary, in keeping with the Supreme Court decision which other Southern states have tried to flout. This may prove a significant precedent.

The Texas revolt, of course, has not been whisked away by a New Deal victory in South Carolina – far from it. The anti-Roosevelt electors who are bound by their state convention to cast their votes for someone other than President Roosevelt are determined men. That dilemma for the New Deal still exists.

But the South Carolina result yields evidence that a majority of Southern people are not in sympathy with rampant anti-New Deal leaders, which undoubtedly applies to Texas and probably will reveal itself in the November convention – if those who are for President Roosevelt get a chance.

South Caroline Governor Olin Johnston, who defeated “Cotton Ed,” has been generally sympathetic with New Deal aims, and has had the support of labor, though on the “white supremacy” issue, he stands alongside “Cotton Ed” and can bawl just as loudly.

The Pittsburgh Press (July 28, 1944)


Wooing conservatives?
Stokes: Bricker veers away from GOP platform

Foreign policy stand at odds with Dewey’s
By Thomas L. Stokes, Scripps-Howard staff writer

Washington –
The Republican Party is about to get itself in the positions of playing both sides of the street, which is nothing new in politics, and sometimes it pays dividends.

This was indicated in the press conference Governor Bricker, the vice-presidential candidate, held at Albany during his visit with Governor Dewey.

The Ohio Governor said he still stood by the speeches he made in his pre-convention campaign for the presidential nomination. That is consistency, but it would seem to put him in conflict with the party platform on some points of both domestic and foreign policy, according to many interpretations, though the Governor himself does not see it that way.

Opposes foreign alliances

Without going into details, it seems fairly clear that Governor Bricker was more conservative on domestic policy in his speeches than is the platform. And as for foreign policy, he has reiterated his adamant opposition to any sort of international police force which would seem to be suggested by the party platform in the vague phrase “peace forces.”

Also, he has been hazy about post-war international collaboration, and he opposes any sort of alliance or arrangement with the other powers, such as Governor Dewey has advocated as a first step in peace plans.

Whether intentionally or not, governor Bricker became the focus of such “nationalist” or “isolationist” forces as were present at the Chicago convention.

Takes definite stand

His leaning certainly seemed that way to anyone who has sat before him at press conferences in recent weeks, as I have, and heard his replies to questions treating all phases of post-war international policy. That was the general impression. Nor did he try to evade or dodge. He was forthright.

The inference is that he is willing to remain the section of the Republican ticket to which the isolationists can rally, while the presidential candidate and the platform point in another direction. Governor Dewey declined to be drawn into the discussion.

Significant of Governor Bricker’s general attitude was his reply to a question as to whether he would welcome the support of John L. Lewis for the Republican ticket.

All support ‘welcome’

He said:

We welcome all support of the Republican ticket. At least I do. That’s the way you win elections by getting votes. If they agree with you and vote for you, well and good.

He was then asked about Gerald L. K. Smith. “His vote will be counted, if he votes for the Republican ticket,” he replied.

The confusion created by this sort of attitude was illustrated by a dispatch from Detroit in which Mr. Smith was quoted as saying that Governor Bricker had said the Republicans would welcome America First support, which was not what the Ohio Governor had said. But it indicates what follows such statements.

The Pittsburgh Press (July 29, 1944)


Stokes: Party heads fear Willkie and Wallace

Both may influence independent voters
By Thomas L. Stokes, Scripps-Howard staff writer

Washington –
Two gentlemen who have been kicked and cuffed by the regular politicians of their parties are likely to have more to do with the November election than some practical politicians seem to suspect.

One is Wendell L. Willkie; the other, Vice President Henry A. Wallace.

Both have an appeal for the independent vote which, as of today, seems unusually large. A recent Gallup Poll estimates that about 25% of the voters have not decided yet whether they will vote Democratic or Republican.

Their doings important

This element probably comprises representatives of all classes and categories. In such an independent group, you are likely to find political and economic progressivism, with a strain of idealism, and considerable concern for a forward-looking program, both domestic and international. Sensible and sound argument, coupled with vision, will be needed here, not partisan denunciation and political hogwash.

What Messrs. Willkie and Wallace do and say will be important with this independent element. Each man is ahead of his party and its platform on both domestic and international issues, and each speaks plainly.

Vice President Wallace will support the Democratic ticket. There is no question about that.

Willkie delaying decision

Mr. Willkie has not indicated what he will do about the Dewey-Bricker ticket and, it is understood, will not until he finds out how Governor Dewey stands on several major issues, which probably will not be until the Republican candidate’s main campaign speeches some weeks hence.

Incidentally, such forthrightness as Governor Dewey’s flat repudiation of Rep. Ham Fish is the sort of thing that impresses Mr. Willkie, and a continuation of such straight talking might be persuasive with the 1940 Republican candidate.

While Vice President Wallace will support the Roosevelt-Truman ticket, the caliber and tone of his support may become important. He said in his convention speech that the party could continue only as a progressive party.

Wallace ousting raises question

Mr. Wallace has a large following, because he stands for something which appeals to so many ordinary folks. This was attested by his rank-and-file support for the nomination, as revealed in a Gallup Poll prior to the convention, by his showing in the convention when you consider that the game was stacked against him, and by reactions since. His ousting by President Roosevelt and the party bosses has raised a question in the minds of many voters.

To one who has watched the cold-blooded operations of the party bosses against both the Vice President and Mr. Willkie, and who has heard the bosses’ private cynical remarks about the two men, it seems the politicians have not yet caught on to what is going on in the country, have not caught the note of yearning among the people for a different order of things out of the suffering of this war, both in this country and all over the world.

Both stand as symbols

The people are ahead of the politicians. So are Messrs. Wallace and Willkie. That’s why both men have become symbols.

Republicans try to dismiss Mr. Willkie as of little influence, but they don’t seem to believe it even as they say it. Publicly, they express confidence he will come along, but they really don’t know, and they seem embarrassed that they can’t tell for sure.

Their attitude indicates they are afraid of Mr. Willkie. They would like so much to have him in their side. His word that the Republican ticket is OK might help a lot with the independent vote.

The Pittsburgh Press (July 31, 1944)


Stokes: Governor Dewey isn’t on a barnstorming trip; he’s out to line up those 26 GOP states

He’s out to learn views of voters
By Thomas L. Stokes, Scripps-Howard staff writer

26 Republican governors control the states in black in this map. These states represent 345 electoral votes, many more than the 226 votes necessary to win. Republican governors control the political machinery in these states and that is what Governor Dewey is going after in his first political tour.

Governor Thomas E. Dewey is on a unique mission in this quest for the Presidency in this tour which takes him to St. Louis for a conference with 25 other Republican governors.

Though he is showing himself to the people here and there, as in Pittsburgh today, this is no barnstorming, speech-making campaign swing. It is strictly a business affair. It comprises, first, political organization, and second, consultation with politicians and spokesmen of various economic groups to learn what issues most concern the voters this year.

Governor Dewey and his managers are trying to profit from the mistakes of the 1940 Republican presidential campaign. Wendell L. Willkie paid but meager attention to politicians and political organizations.

Governor Dewey has proved himself adept at political organization. On this trip, he is seeing the political managers on their home ground. Meanwhile, he is holding his fire on campaign issues pending further survey and study.

Some of the latter he is doing on this trip, beginning in Pittsburgh today in conferences with representatives of labor, farm and business groups, as well as with local political leaders. This he will continue at Springfield, Illinois, tomorrow and at St. Louis.

The climax of this first campaign venture is, of course, his two-day conference with the other Republican governors. Utilization of the Republican governors in this campaign is generally recognized as the smartest political coup so far of this year’s campaign in either party.

It may pay substantial dividends. The 26 states represent 345 electoral votes, many more than the 226 votes necessary to win. Republicans control the political machinery in these states, which is an initial advantage, particularly if there is a light presidential vote this November. Governor Dewey’s endeavor is to steam up the governors to get their machinery in smooth working order.

He also has another objective, aside from purely political organization mechanics.

This is to utilized the governors in pushing what Mr. Dewey seemingly expects to develop into a major issue, that is, recovery for the states of some of the powers yielded up, or appropriated, in recent years to the federal government. This offers an introduction to the issue of federal bureaucracy, for the big federal mechanism has been built up to administer functions formerly reserved to the states.

The governors are in a position to present this story in a practical fashion that would have more meaning than mere shouts about the bureaucracy arising from so many campaign stumps in recent years.

Most of the Republican governors have recognized that the big social and economic problems of today require federal supervision, coordination, and in many cases financial help, particularly post-war readjustments, but they also hold that local, decentralized administration is most healthful, effective and economical.

The Pittsburgh Press (August 1, 1944)


Stokes: Dewey campaign technique emphasizes post-war job

GOP candidate hopes to counteract stressing of Commander-in-Chief angle by Roosevelt
By Thomas L. Stokes, Scripps-Howard staff writer

With Governor Dewey’s party –
Governor Thomas E. Dewey has contrived an interesting campaign technique to meet the war emphasis of the Democrats.

He is trying it out on his current Midwestern trip, which takes him to St. Louis tomorrow for a conference with the 25 other Republican governors, after his stop today at Springfield, Illinois.

To counteract the war psychology being exploited by the Democrats, symbolized by President Roosevelt’s assumption of the Commander-in-Chief role, Governor Dewey points out that the job of the next President, which does not begin until next Jan. 20, will be largely a peacetime job. This argument is given added effect by the victorious push of U.S. forces in the Pacific and in France, and by the surge of the Russians toward Germany.

Post-war employment theme

We are making “gratifying progress” in the fighting, he says, to point this up. Then he mentions the big job after the war, which is to provide employment for everybody. Not enough attention, he holds, is being given to this, to the overhanging task of reconverting war industry to peace industry. He did not mention it, but the recent flurry of activity in Washington to hurry through needed legislation for reconversion would indicate the administration feels the same way.

Pittsburgh, where the smoke of war industry almost shuts out the sun, offered Governor Dewey an opportunity to talk about reconversion. People toiling in that area, which has known the gnawing pinch of depression, could appreciate his statement that “it may not be long before the most vital thing that faces every American is his opportunity to work, either for himself or for someone else.”

Vulnerable on domestic side

The Dewey campaign technique revealed on this trip seems aimed at blocking off the Democratic war emphasis so as to open up for discussion the field of domestic economy and management on which the Roosevelt administration is admittedly vulnerable.

It is obvious, from Mr. Dewey’s numerous conferences with various Pittsburgh groups, that Republicans will try to make a virtual crusade out of the CIO’s drive for political power within the Democratic Party.

Governor Dewey drew a rather frightening picture of this political movement in a closed session with 100 business and financial leaders representing steel, coal, aluminum, electrical equipment and banks.

Increasing debt specter

According to one man present, the Republican candidate pictured the CIO as planning to take over war plants after the war and gaining thereby such control that President Roosevelt, if reelected, would virtually be their servant. This one man, at least, was horrified. The Governor also held up the specter of increasing debt under continued New Deal management, with a consequent increase in taxes.

How far the Republicans still have to go in trying to wean away labor votes from the administration was indicated by the caliber of the labor representatives who met the Governor in his general labor conference. They were mostly smaller fry, largely AFL with only three or four minor CIO representatives. Governor Dewey held a separate meeting with United Mine Workers representatives, John L. Lewis’ union, which is a powerful political factor in Pennsylvania.

The Pittsburgh Press (August 3, 1944)


Stokes: Defeat of Clark offers GOP a political lesson

Missouri primary ‘punishes’ isolationist, defends Roosevelt’s policies
By Thomas L. Stokes, Scripps-Howard staff writer

St. Louis, Missouri –
Governor Thomas E. Dewey, Republican presidential candidate, and his running mate, Governor John W. Bricker, came here for a conference with the other 24 Republican governors at the end of a hot state primary election which seemed to offer the Republican Party a lesson.

Isolationism long had a toehold in Missouri. That philosophy received an unmistakable rebuke in the defeat in Tuesday’s Democratic senatorial primary of Senator Bennett Champ Clark. He was one of its apostles in the days leading up to the outbreak of war in Europe and in the tense debate before Pearl Harbor.

In the ousting of Bennett Clark, son of Champ Clark, Speaker of the House during the Wilson administration, there was also an element of punishment by Democratic voters for the Senator’s opposition to much of President Roosevelt’s domestic, as well as foreign, program.

‘Blind and stubborn’

This was not entirely an assertion of New Dealism among Missouri Democrats. It was a manifestation of that basic Democratic Party loyalty which holds that a Democrat should support a Democratic President, even if the voters themselves do not always approve his policies.

It is blind, stubborn, not easily understood, but all the same, there it is.

The Missouri primary was complicated by other factors, including political feuding. But there is no doubt that the Senator’s isolationism and his anti-Rooseveltism were the chief factors. They were the principal targets of attack by his opponent, Attorney General Roy McKittrick, and by the two St. Louis newspapers which hammered day by day on this theme. The effect was reflected in the poor showing by Senator Clark here in St. Louis which accounted for his defeat.

A vote-vane state

Missouri is one of that string of border states which serve as a weather vane. It is reported to be nip and tuck today.

Trimming on the international collaboration issue might be costly to the Republicans in November, for Tuesday’s primary showed it can be whipped up into quite an issue.

The CIO Political Action Committee had an influence in the primary result, particularly here in St. Louis, where they put on an effective registration campaign. They, too, are preaching international cooperation.

The defeat of Senator Clark has its sad aspects. It ends at least temporarily the 50-year Clark dynasty in Missouri politics, began by Bennett’s father, who almost attained the Presidency.

Clark honest, sincere

Bennett Clark’s isolationism was honest and sincere. Bennett Clark fought in France in World War I and had a distinguished record.

I recall a story he told me one day about when he went to Paris on leave. He said:

I went out to Versailles. I walked through the palace. There on the walls I saw pictures – the Duke of Guise entering Château-Thierry in 1300 and something, some other military leader taking over another place in 1400 something – a place in which we had fought just recently.

I said to myself, “Boy, they’ve been fighting over these same places for centuries!” Then I thought “What business has a boy from Missouri being over here?”

The boys from Missouri are back over there again, and in Italy, and in the South Pacific. It looks this time, however, as if Woodrow Wilson finally might be vindicated. Bennett Clark has lost out.

The Pittsburgh Press (August 4, 1944)


Stokes: Dewey pleases in meeting with governors

Generous promises made by party heads
By Thomas L. Stokes, Scripps-Howard staff writer

St. Louis, Missouri –
Governor Thomas E. Dewey did quite a nice bit of work for his presidential candidacy in his conference here with the 25 other Republican governors. The conference should pay dividends, politically speaking, both from the standpoint of organization and campaign contributions.

The governors were highly appreciative, and indicated as much, for Governor Dewey’s gesture in calling them in and giving them an opportunity to let down their hair about their particular political problems and grievances. They left here with a new injection of enthusiasm to gear up their state machines, fairly optimistic, but knowing that they face no easy job in beating President Roosevelt in November.

Cooperation promised

They got generous promises from both their candidate and Republican National Chairman Herbert Brownell Jr. of cooperation from the national organization, and, it was reported, of the benefits that can be bestowed by the White House in the way of patronage and preferment if the Dewey-Bricker ticket is elected.

They learned that they may expect to see more of their presidential candidate on their own home grounds, for the campaign plan includes a personal stumping tour by Governor Dewey that will carry him from one end of the country to the other.

Governor Dewey did not spare himself. He was up early and worked late, one night until 3:00 a.m. CT with the various subcommittees of governors drafting a program of federal-state relationships, all of which gave the governors an opportunity to visit with him informally and get a shirtsleeves view of the candidate. He was, once again., the young District Attorney burning the midnight oil preparing a case.

Free-for-all discussion

Between times Mr. Brownell talked with the governors, consulting them about their state situations, getting their advice. The political phase of the business here was concluded with a three-hour, free-for-all discussion with the candidate and the national chairman.

There was no talk whatsoever about old-fashioned “states’ rights,” except in one instance.

Insurance aid assured

This was the opposition of the Republican governors, including the presidential candidate, to regulation of insurance companies by the federal government, but for regulation exclusively by the states, even though the Supreme Court held recently that regulation of insurance companies lies within the province of the federal government.

The governors gave their backing ton a bill, already passed by the House, and pending in the Senate, which would lodge insurance company regulation exclusively in the states by act of Congress, which the administration is fighting. The Justice Department has brought cases charging violation of anti-trust laws by insurance companies, on the theory that insurance companies are operating in interstate commerce and are subject to anti-trust laws like any other business.

The Republicans, by giving their backing to the insurance interests, which are powerful politically as well as financially, thus insure their support in the campaign, which should be good for handsome campaign contributions.

The Pittsburgh Press (August 6, 1944)


Stokes: Old states’ rights buried by Dewey

Brand use of federal power expounded
By Thomas L. Stokes, Scripps-Howard staff writer

With Governor Dewey’s party – (Aug. 5)
Governor Thomas E. Dewey emerged from his conference with the 25 other Republican governors at St. Louis as the exponent of a broad use of federal power, in cooperation with the states, to promote the economic and social welfare of the people.

He buried, once and for all, the ghost of old-fashioned states’ rights.

In only one case did he make a concession, an important one, by insisting upon exclusive state regulation of insurance, with application of interstate commerce laws barred.

Realities faced

Otherwise, the program adopted here calls for a continuation of federal supervision or assistance in the services to which the people have become accustomed under the New Deal.

The Republican nominee and the governors faced the realities. Western governors want a continuation of federal financial aid and supervision in developing litigation, reclamation and power projects.

The governors also reflected the desire of their people for continuation and expansion of social security, of labor statutes enacted by the New Deal guaranteeing collective bargaining, minimum wages and maximum hours of work, of protection for the farmer, all of which were embodied in the program approved here.

New definition of ‘economy’

The conference devised a new definition of “economy” so as not to frighten away voters as some Republicans have done with their strident demands for retrenchment.

The statement said:

Economy in government means the wise and efficient expenditure of public funds collected from all the people as taxes. It does not mean the indiscriminate slashing and cutting of governmental budgets.

Two main issues

From the conference here, the Republicans derive two issues.

The first is the promise to continue the services adopted by the New Deal, without sharp cuts in appropriations by which such services could be nullified in the name of “economy.” This will be emphasized to attract voters who have flocked

The second is the promise of better and less costly administration, less duplication, less wasted effort.

The New Deal is vulnerable in administration. The Republican program struck at this repeatedly, and promised efficient consolidation of the manifold bureaus scattered over Washington.

Governor Dewey expects to link this “loose administration” up with the war, by contending that this confusion of agencies hundreds the war effort by cutting down efficiency.

The Pittsburgh Press (August 16, 1944)


Stokes: Initiate told facts of life about GOP House control

Martin tells Rowe such things just aren’t being done despite Democrats’ weakness
By Thomas L. Stokes, Scripps-Howard staff writer

Washington –
Sometimes it takes an initiate, still fresh in the order but with a naïve sort of insight, to rise up and tell the old hands what’s what.

Ed Rowe, freshman Republican Congress from Akron, did that for the House, and for the Senate, too.

Observing how things are working at the Capitol, with Republicans and Southern Democrats actually running the show, big Ed Rowe wondered why House Republicans just didn’t take over control, put their man in the speakership, seize control of the committees and assume responsibility.

Alarmed Republicans

He alarmed his fellow Republicans, particularly Boss Man Joe Martin, Minority House Leader, by his bright thought.

Joe Martin, of course, called in Mr. Rowe and explained the facts of life, how such a thing just isn’t done. Republicans don’t want to take over responsibility yet. They were nervous for a day or two after the 1942 elections when it seemed they might win the House and have to run it. With a Democratic administration in power, that would have put them on the spit continually.

Republicans don’t have an actual majority. But neither do the Democrats. Republicans have 212 members. Democrats 216 members. A majority is 218. There are four members of other parties, and three vacancies.

GOP in actual control

There’s no question that the Republicans exercise actual control, with the help of conservative Southern Democrats, on most domestic issues. A showdown over organization of the House would be very close. But on the issue of control the Democrats, even rabid anti-New Dealers, would be found standing with their party because nice plums are involved, such as committee chairmanships.

So Congressman Rowe’s one-man revolution won’t come off. But he did frighten the Republicans for a moment, and he contributed the strange situation in Congress, in both branches.

The truth is, no party controls either House or Senate for practical purposes.

Democrats split

A coalition of Republicans and conservative Democrats, largely Southern, now controls on most any matter of domestic policy, as in the soldier vote bill a few months back, and in reconversion bill a few days ago in the Senate.

The Democratic Party in Congress is split wide open.

The only appearance of unity comes on war measures, which have the support of all factions, though this is about over as the work of Congress moves toward post-war problems.

The Pittsburgh Press (August 17, 1944)


War front observers believe –
Stokes: Big soldier vote likely to upset election polls

Taft irked by War Department’s efficiency in distributing ballots
By Thomas L. Stokes, Scripps-Howard staff writer

Washington –
There is likely to be a rather sizable soldier vote, larger perhaps than generally expected.

This is indicated by the efficiency of the War Department system for distributing ballots, as observed by some who have returned from abroad. Voting is being made easy for the soldiers, much easier, in fact, than it is for civilians here at home.

Consequently, current election polls must be considered conditionally. They do not include the soldier vote, for they have no way to gauge it. President Roosevelt is generally conceded the edge among the soldiers, and the soldier vote may be decisive in a number of large states now counted for Governor Dewey.

Many applications received

The War Department has about completed distribution of postcard applications for ballots, which the soldiers fill out and send back. The Army’s deadline for this job was Aug. 15. Many thousands of postcard applications have been received and distributed through secretaries of state. A third of the states have already begun to mail ballots to the soldiers.

One competent observer who has lived with troops since the invasion of Africa offers an interesting analysis. Although there is no apparently burning political interest among troops, he said, the ease with which they can vote will lead many to fill out their ballots who otherwise would not take the trouble.

Filling out their ballots will be just something else to do something about which they can gossip and joke as soldiers will.

Too perfect for Taft

Senator Robert Taft (R-OH), who led the successful fight for use of state ballots rather than a short federal ballot, seems to be convinced now that there is going to be a substantial soldier vote.

Now that the War Department has worked out an efficient system, Mr. Taft is apparently not happy about it. It seems to be too perfect; one would judge from the tenor of his remarks in the Senate. He harked back to charge that War Department representatives “cooperated 100 percent with the extreme New Dealers and the CIO Political Action Committee in support of a clearly unconstitutional federal ballot carrying no names except those of the candidates for President.”

He said:

The Department has now set up an organization to get out the vote, extending to the smaller units, on a scale which no political organization could possibly duplicate among the civilian population.

Senator’s dander aroused

The Senator’s dander was up, perhaps because he was in the process of eating a little crow. He made his remarks while the Senate was passing legislation relaxing censorship restrictions on books, magazines and moving pictures for soldiers, placed in the soldier vote bill at his instigation.

The zealous effort of Republicans, led by Senator Taft, to keep anything that smacked of propaganda from the troops may turn out, in the end, to their disadvantage.

In trying to bar anything favorable to President Roosevelt, they also barred anything favorable to Governor Dewey.

President Roosevelt is known to every soldier. The Republican candidate is not so well known.

The Pittsburgh Press (August 18, 1944)


Stokes: Dewey realizing interest of voters in foreign policy

Opposition to ‘Big Four’ alliances believed first step in presenting definite stand
By Thomas L. Stokes, Scripps-Howard staff writer

Washington –
Governor Thomas E. Dewey’s statement on post-war foreign policy, deploring any continuing “Big Four” military alliance that would dominate the small nations, aroused considerable political interest here.

For the Republican presidential candidate thus far has been sparring with his views on an issue of which millions of voters are seemingly predominantly conscious this year and upon which they expect full, free and frank discussion.

It is assumed here that this is merely a beginning, and that Governor Dewey will later elaborate so the public may get a clear picture of how he would handle foreign policy, if elected. This initial statement, in advance of his major campaign speeches, indicates that the Republican candidate realizes the public interest in this issue.

Dewey urged to speak out

Governor Dewey’s advisers have been urging that he had better speak out or President Roosevelt would run away with the ball, being in the favored position of creating policy day by day.

Some Republican strategists think there is a substantial bloc of voters, for example those who feel warmly toward Wendell Willkie, who will be swayed to one party or the other largely on the issue of international collaboration. This includes many persons normally Republican who may be inclined to support the President on this score alone, if Governor Dewey does not satisfy them.

Governor Dewey has quite a job to do in the field of foreign policy. Republicans are on the defensive. The burden of proof is upon them. They must dispel the doubts in many minds, which Democrats are trying to nourish, hanging over from what the Democrats call the “betrayal” by Republicans of the League of Nations after the last war.

And doubts that arise currently about some figures high in Republican councils, include the vice-presidential candidate Governor John W. Bricker, Senators Robert Taft and Arthur H. Vandenberg, and former isolationists such as James S. Kemper (chairman of the Republican Finance Committee) and Werner W. Schroeder of Illinois (a newly-elected vice chairman of the Republican National Committee).

Struck at vulnerable spot

Governor Dewey appropriately seized the occasion of the conference beginning here next week among representatives of this country, Great Britain, Russia and China to issue his statement warning of “Big Four” military domination and “power politics.”

Governor Dewey did strike at a vulnerable point – “power politics.” Many others have been critical of the secret meetings of Allied leaders, at Cairo and Tehran, suspicious of the mystery about decisions that concern all the people.

Secretary of State Cordell Hull quickly denied any thought of a continuing “Big Four” military alliance as Governor Dewey had suggested. The Secretary is naturally sensitive and seriously concerned. He has been working for months on the plans for international organization, carefully, solely, particularly, and it is not all as simple as it might look.

Aside from whatever political motives are involved, the Republican candidate has made a timely contribution in his warning against a “power politics” solution of post-war world organization. And he has whetted curiosity about the complete outline of his post-war international views.

The Pittsburgh Press (August 29, 1944)


Stokes: Congressmen rudely awakened by Hillman’s testimony on PAC

They learn workers are taking interest; Communism charge angrily denied
By Thomas L. Stokes, Scripps-Howard staff writer

Washington –
Sidney Hillman tried hard in a day’s session with several Congressmen to break down some conceptions about the CIO’s political activities he directs as head of the CIO Political Action Committee and the recently-created National Citizens Political Action Committee.

He seemed to have had some success.

A definite impression from his examination by the House Campaign Investigating Committee is that it is difficult for the average Congressman to understand how a worker in some factory, in his own district or elsewhere, can get really interested in what goes on in Washington and want to do something about it.

An ogre in overalls

The average Congressman is waking up suddenly – and a little resentfully, it appears – to the new political consciousness of workers and its outlet in organized political activity. He doesn’t exactly like it, perhaps because he can’t quite understand it. So, uncomprehending, Mr. Average Congressman strikes back or, in his imagination, creates some sort of ogre that is not at all like the constituent he knew in overalls, Frank or Joe or Bill.

Some Investigating Committee members, particularly Rep. Ralph Church (R-IL), tried to draw a picture of some vast sort of conspiracy by Mr. Hillman and a few others which they are imposing on millions of workers who are following along like sheep.

Hillman’s reply angry

An accusation by Mr. Church that the CIO-PAC indulged in “Communistic records” provoked an angry outburst from Mr. Hillman.

He shouted:

You are trying to prejudice the public mind against us. You have no facts, no facts whatsoever, and that’s what I resent. I will put my record fighting Communism against yours any time. I have always opposed totalitarianism in any form. I am opposed to it in industry.

Mr. Hillman challenged Mr. Church to accompany him before any local union in Chicago and “see whom they support, you or me.”

Case of Dock Williams

Mr. Church questioned Mr. Hillman about the case of Dock J. Williams, a Negro who was removed from the presidency of Local 25 of the United Packing House Workers at Chicago. He said Mr. Williams blamed his removal on his refusal to authorize a union assessment for a $1,000 contribution to the CIO-PAC while it was still accepting funds from union treasuries. He said the case was the basis of a suit now in Superior Court at Chicago.

Mr. Hillman said he knew nothing of the case and suggested it be left to the courts. But he added that he thought it “inconceivable” that Mr. Williams was removed from office because of a controversy over the PAC.

And that Utah resignation

Mr. Church also asked about the resignation of two members of a Utah PAC in connection with political contributions.

Mr. Hillman said the two officials had disagreed with PAC objectives and that Utah PAC leaders “in their excitement” asked them to resign. He said the importance of the case had been magnified by an “organized campaign in some publications to malign the CIO.”

Mr. Church repeatedly referred to a potential PAC fund of $2,500,000 which the committee may receive if all CIO members contribute the requested $1, of which 50 cents would go to the national committee.

All very ‘democratic’

Mr. Hillman replied that “all this talk about millions is propaganda,” and added that the PAC thus far has received only $17,000 from the $1 contributions.

Mr. Hillman explained that the idea of organized political activity, local and national, was outlined by him over several months in visits to 40 states, to workers and representatives of workers, including 300 called together in Mr. Church’s own state. The unions then discussed it themselves and the plan was ratified at a national convention and the expenditure of funds approved. Mr. Hillman thought it all followed the democratic process.

Money in 18 contests

The records of activity and the expenditure of funds in primaries presented by Mr. Hillman should serve to take some of the fright out of Congressmen. The National PAC organization contributed in only 18 Congressional primary contests and did not win in all these. Locally, of course, the CIO was active elsewhere.

PAC spent no money in some contests cited for CIO activity and influence. None was spent in three Alabama contests in which the CIO was given credit for working against sitting Congressmen, including that in which Rep. Joseph Starnes, a member of the Dies Committee, was defeated. The National PAC spent none in the contest against Rep. Richard Kleberg (D-TX), who was defeated.

Fund partly frozen

The Smith-Connally Act, implemented by amendments to the Hatch Act, forbidding contributions to political campaigns by labor unions, has curtailed CIO activities, the House members learned. The PAC had a fund of $671,214 contributed by CIO unions. It had spent $371,086 up to the end of the national political conventions, when it ordered that, except for the remaining primaries, no more of this fund should be spent since union funds are barred in regular election campaigns.

House members also learned these contributions from union members, which Mr. Hillman insisted are purely voluntary, are not swelling in any golden wave. Loans and contributions from union members from July 23, when union contributions were frozen, to Aug. 15 totaled $56,922. Of this amount, $36,983 has been spent which, with the $371,086 previously spent from funds contributed by unions, makes a total of $408,080 spent for political activity.

Lucky to get $3 million

This sum, Mr. Hillman said, was equal to what two families had contributed to the Republican campaign in 1940. He decried stories of many millions to be spent by PAC and NCPAC, which he attributed to propaganda.

NCPAC, which thus far has contributions from the general public of $78,569, has set a goal of $1,500,000 for the campaign, Mr., Hillman thought PAC would be lucky to get that much, which would make a total of $3 million. The Republican National Committee spent $17 million in 1940.

Mr. Hillman told the committee that his union, the Amalgamated Clothing Workers, had contributed $5,000 to the campaign for District Attorney by Thomas E. Dewey in 1938. The Dewey organization asked for me, and so obtained contributions from other unions, Mr. Hillman said.

The Pittsburgh Press (September 1, 1944)


Stokes: NAM active politically, but doesn’t go out on limb

It has little love for New Deal, but learned hard way not to endorse anyone
By Thomas L. Stokes, Scripps-Howard stand writer

Washington –
Much on the controversy about group or class activity in politics, now agitated over CIO’s Political Action Committee, resolves itself down to definitions, primarily of “political activity,” and there are interesting distinctions without much difference in some cases.

This is illustrated in the parallels that can be drawn between PAC, representing one big segment of labor, and NAM – National Association of Manufacturers – representing some substantial business interests. Officials of each have been examined by the House Campaign Investigating Committee.

How ‘voluntary’

Sidney Hillman’s PAC is seeking “voluntary contributions” from union members. The question has been raised about how “voluntary” these might be in some cases, union discipline being what it is.

The money goes into a fund which is to be used for what Mr. Hillman calls “educational purposes,” to pay for publications stating issues and instructing voters how to register and how to be effective politically. And to employ men and women to work along the same general lines.

Balance frozen

Up to Aug. 15, PAC had spent some $408,000, of which $371,000 came from a fund of $670,200 contributed by unions, and the rest from contributions by individual union members on the voluntary basis since July 23. On that date, the balance of the $670,200 was frozen until after the election because of the legal ban on union contributions for political activity.

PAC hopes to raise $1,500,000 by voluntary contributions for the campaign. And the National Citizens Political Action Committee. recently created, of which Mr. Hillman is also chairman, is to raise $1,500,000 in contributions from the public. This would make a total of $3 million – if they can get it.

NAM has an annual budget of about $3 million which is raised about half and half by dues and by voluntary contributions, according to president Robert M. Gaylord, in testimony before the House Committee. About $1,385,000 of this amount will be spent this year by the “National Industrial Information Committee” for “educational purposes,” as Mr. Gaylord described it.

Sends out voting record

The Information Committee, which is described as “charged with the responsibility of promoting a better public understanding of industry and the way it operates,” sponsors meetings with business groups, church groups, women’s groups to present issues affecting business. It has been created since President Roosevelt took office.

Mr. Gaylord conceded that national legislation might be discussed at these meetings, but he did not think individual members of Congress were. He said NAM’s Washington office occasionally sends out the voting record of Congressmen on bills affecting business. NAM also maintains a lobby here, he said, to present the viewpoint of business. Labor has similar lobbies.

A difference, Mr. Gaylord pointed out, is that NAM has not pledged itself to a candidate for President, as has PAC, nor has NAM engaged in activity in primary campaigns or election campaigns, as has PAC.

Keeps head down politically

Although Mr. Gaylord said that both Democrats and Republicans belong to his organization and it could not take sides, it is only realistic to point out that no one who knows anything about the organization expects anything very favorable to the New Deal to come from it, judging from past performance, nor many of its prominent members to be on the Roosevelt side in the election.

The inference from Mr. Gaylord’s testimony was that NAM has learned, from experience and hard knocks, to keep its head down politically. He said NAM would not contribute as an organization to a political candidate, even if the legal ban did not exist, as this would only defeat its purpose.

“You can’t tell Americans how to vote,” he declared.

He thought it was all right for members of one family to contribute large amounts to a political campaign “if within the law.” This is where NAM influence is effective politically, individually as members, as has been demonstrated in the past, aside from such activities as those of its Information Committee in the propaganda way.

The Pittsburgh Press (September 2, 1944)


Stokes: Ghostwriters

By Thomas L. Stokes

Washington –
Every now and then a frank sort of fellow turns up in politics who won’t play by the old rules and who shows up the pretenses and synthetic practices such as, for example, speeches prepared by ghostwriters.

It’s an old custom, this business of making speeches written by someone else, practices by men of both parties, even including Presidents. Many a contribution by those earnestly interested in the election this year will find its way into the pockets of men smart with words who sit in backrooms at campaign headquarters and pound out on loose-limbed phrases and bright quips.

This is not to say they get rich at it. Far from that. But there are so many of them in campaign years. Their reward is in thinking up the stuff, in imagining how they’ve caught the other side off-guard or on a vulnerable point. Their despair comes when they are sitting at the radio at night with the family and hear their product butchered, words mispronounced, emphasis in the wrong place, and they mutter: “Why, the so-and-so can’t even read!”

Governor Warren incident

The latest ghostwriting scandal is amusing. It was ferreted out by shrewd little Senator Joe O’Mahoney of Wyoming, who is in charge of the Democratic senatorial campaign.

He said flatly the three Republican governors who started off the gubernatorial phase of the campaign didn’t like the speeches written for them by National Chairman Brownell’s ghostwriting squad in New York headquarters and had changed them before delivery.

One of the three, Governor Earl Warren of California, spoke up promptly. Yes, he had changed his.

Californian is frank

Republicans probably learned another lesson, too, from this episode, which is to be careful with Governor Warren.

They got burned on him once before when he refused to accept the vice-presidential nomination at Chicago, a minor sensation. It is a sensation when a fellow turns down a vice-presidential nomination, for you always see so many hopefuls around national conventions.

Governor Warren is a frank gentleman, and it seems to take Republicans a long time to find that out. Long before the convention, he kept saying he couldn’t accept the nomination. But Republicans wouldn’t believe him. He was not sure the Republicans could win this year, nor that they could carry California.

The ghostwriting incident indicates he’s not so sure yet about California. He showed this in the changes in his speech. The original sent him from New York bore down heavy on the CIO and its PAC. He toned that down considerably.

The CIO is strong in California, and presumably has done a good job of registering its voters. Governor Warren is taking no chances.

The Pittsburgh Press (September 4, 1944)


Stokes: Even conservatives rap House reconversion bill

Roosevelt’s refusal to take part in fight indicates he is playing politics on issue
By Thomas L. Stokes, Scripps-Howard staff writer

Washington –
The interpretation generally read into Senator Harry S. Truman’s speech accepting the vice-presidential nomination – that Democrats will make the war and foreign policy the dominant issue in the campaign – rings painfully accurate to groups in Congress who battled in vain to provide more cushions for unemployment on the home front in the so-called “reconversion” bill.

For President Roosevelt offered no help whatever in this fight. It was just the sort he would mix into in the days before he asked that the “New Deal” name be dropped in favor of “Win the War.” That was regarded then as a political gesture to hold as many conservatives on his side as possible for the election. Mr. Roosevelt still seems to be playing the same game.

Refuses to join fight

Despite his preoccupation with the war, the President had ample opportunity to step into this situation. When queried at his press conferences, he would reply that he had not followed the bill, or had not examined the amendments, and thus casually pass off the matter. He let the Republican-Southern Democratic coalition have its head without challenge.

What this has all come to is now seen in the bill passed by the House which whittled away at the Senate measure, itself certainly a conservative bill.

Conservatives have now joined critics of this House bill. Bernard M. Baruch, White House consultant on reconversion plans, said he does not feel this measure is adequate. Senator Walter F. George (D-GA), who sponsored the Senate bill as chairman of the Finance Committee, got very much aroused while the bill was before the House and appealed for moderation in the cutting process.

Appeal unheeded

He went unheeded. He is concerned over the House’s refusal to include federal employees in unemployment compensation and the striking out of another Senate bill proviso for travel pay for stranded war workers.

War Mobilization Director James F. Byrnes pleaded with the Ways and Means Committee to provide a nationwide minimum of $20 a week for 26 weeks for unemployment compensation, with the federal government to advance funds for such payments to states where rates are lower. But the committee refused, and the House batted down such an amendment by an overwhelming vote. This would mean meager unemployment aid in some localities, particularly in the South.

These three men are all conservatives which demonstrates how far the House went.

Their influence may be effective in revising the measure in conferences between the two beaches, the next stage. Senator George will be chairman of Senate conferees.

Organized labor tried to get a much more liberal measure. It put up a united front behind the Murray-Kilgore Bill in the Senate and a similar measure in the House. These were hopelessly defeated.

President Roosevelt did not come to their rescue, nor did House Democratic leaders. The fight in the House was directed by second-stringers. The President has taken labor’s support for granted in this campaign, which indicates some of the weakness in labor’s political strategy.

The Pittsburgh Press (September 6, 1944)


Stokes: Peace force

By Thomas L. Stokes

Washington –
Deliberations of the Dumbarton Oaks Conference and a preview of the Senate’s forthcoming debate indicate that discussion of an international organization to keep the peace has reached a stage where skill is needed to keep it from becoming a political issue that isolationists can exploit.

Delegates of this country, Great Britain and Russia, having agreed on the use of force by an international organization to quash future aggressors, now apparently are in the delicate phase of deciding just how this force shall be applied.

The questions pertinent to this country, so far as a political issue is concerned, is whether the use of force must be approved in every individual instance by Congress. The American plan, for what has leaked out, presumably calls for submission to the Senate of the general terms and conditions under which force may be used but, once those have been approved, the American government, as an entity in the council, would act without coming back to Congress.

This was seized upon by Senator Harlan J. Bushfield (R-SD) and embroidered with extravagant fears in a Senate speech full od political implications. He attacked President Roosevelt, suggesting that under this proposal the President would become “the absolute despot of the American people: a true dictator in all sense of the word.”

It sounded like the opening gun of the isolationists.

Brassy political note obvious

The brassy political note was obvious in the South Dakota Senator’s question:

Do you, Mr. President, base the campaign for a fourth term upon this despotic power outlined in this so-called American plan?

Senator Arthur Vandenberg (R-MI), who joined the debate, seemed to be backing away from the forthcoming position he took a few days ago when he pledged his support to an international organization. He fervently proclaimed that he would never stand for an American delegate making a declaration of war without the approval of Congress. He made it sound rather horrendous.

The Senator argued that force might never be necessary, that other persuasive means might do the trick. Disarming of the aggressors, he contended, would take care of them, and he certainly did not suspect any of our Allies would kick up trouble.

This was too much for Senator Tom Connally (D-TX), chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, who asked the Michigan Senator how it would have done to send “nice homilies” to Hitler asking him not to bother the Poles and the Czechs, or asking Hirohito to desist.

Gentleness won’t stop aggression

You can’t stop such aggressors, he said, by “sending them Sunday school tracts, by reading them the Ten Commandments and the Lord’s Prayer.” Nor, he added, could you always wait to call Congress together, members might be out campaigning and, after you got them here, some fellow might speak for two weeks. If the United States had acted quickly, in concert with England and France, this war might have been stopped.

When Senator Bushfield launched into his political tirade, Senator Connally saw the danger signals. He pulled out a long list of cases in which Presidents had sent troops to put down disturbances, uprisings, minor wars, and the like, without the approval of Congress. He did not recall that it was just such use of Marines by President Coolidge in Nicaragua that raised such a howl of “imperialism” from Democrats, shouts of “dollar diplomacy” and the like.

It will take more than such arguments.

What is needed, apparently, is a bold and frank pronouncement of a new concept in the world – that the nations must get together for their mutual interest, as a union of nations, not as jealous individuals, and they must keep a policeman constantly on the beat who can be summoned at moment’s notice.

The Pittsburgh Press (September 7, 1944)


Stokes: Reconversion

By Thomas L. Stokes

Washington –
There’s considerable speculation here as to whether Congress, in handling reconversion legislation, has played into President Roosevelt’s hands and furnished him a possible political issue.

A joint Senate-House conference committee now is struggling with the different measures, passed by each branch, in an effort to reach a compromise which Senate leaders hope will more closely approximate an adequate solution than the House bill.

The latter measure has been criticized as inadequately Bernard M. Baruch, White House consultant on reconversion programs, as well as Senator Walter George (D-GA), chairman of the Finance Committee which sponsored the Senate will. War Mobilization Director James F. Byrnes tried in vain to get the House Ways and Means Committee to provide higher nationwide unemployment compensation rates – at least a $20 per week minimum for 26 weeks. That would be higher than is allowed under some state laws.

All are conservatives

In view of the criticism of these men, all recognized conservatives, it is not likely that President Roosevelt is satisfied with what Congress has done; nor does it seem possible that the conference committee, within the latitude of the two measures, can make the ultimate bill satisfactory to him. Conferees must stay within the two bills. They cannot insert new provisions.

This raises the questions as to whether the President might veto the bill, or, if not that, sign it under protest, perhaps with a stiff message to Congress criticizing what it has done. He might also suggest that additional legislation will be necessary to provide sufficient cushions for the unemployed during the changeover from war to peace production, which is already beginning.

President Roosevelt refrained from mixing into the situation while the bills were before Congress, which disappointed some New Dealers at the Capitol, a dwindling army. Although they felt that he withheld his help at a critical time, it is also true that Mr. Roosevelt has been criticized repeatedly for interfering with Congress. Republicans used to say “rubberstamp” Congress, an epithet no longer accurate.

Congress had its opportunity

Congress wanted to write legislation, itself, and it had full opportunity in the reconversion bill.

Senator Harry S. Truman (D-MO), Democratic vice-presidential candidate, obviously reflected President Roosevelt’s dissatisfaction with reconversion legislation in his own criticism of the course it was taking.

With the backing of conservatives such as Messrs. Baruch, George and Byrnes, President Roosevelt has an opportunity to take Congress to task. This will give him, at the same time, a chance to assuage the New Deal wing of the party which did not like either the Senate or House bills, but which was unable to do anything about it.

Observers at the Capitol are also commenting on what a beautiful opportunity the Republicans missed by not presenting a constructive reconversion program of their own that might have offered a middle way between the warring extremes of the Democratic Party in Congress.

With Democrats divided as they are, Republicans might be able to sail into the widening gulf and make some political capital for themselves.

They seem, instead, to prefer to follow the leadership of the Southern Democratic conservatives – they are almost beginning to talk with a Southern accent. Governor Dewey prodded the administration recently on his Midwestern tour to St. Louis for the sluggishness of its reconversion plans, but it did not seem to stir up his own flock in Congress.