I Dare Say – For another kind of change (10-25-44)

The Pittsburgh Press (October 25, 1944)



For another kind of change

By Florence Fisher Parry

Surely none of us really took any satisfaction in the ordeal to which the President of the United States felt impelled to subject himself in the interest of his followers.

I refer, of course, to the President’s exposing himself to the bad weather which prevailed in New York on the day of his campaign tour of Manhattan, Queens and the Bronx. Unprotected from the rain and wind, our President for four hours endured exposure which easily could have exacted a serious penalty. Surely no one, friend or enemy, would ask our President to do this.

This is a bitter campaign, as campaigns usually have been before; perhaps a little more bitter than others because our feelings are abnormally near the surface.

But however personal has been the attack upon both candidates, only the contemptible and base have played up their physical attributes. Honest concern for our President’s health, which I do believe lies at the heart of any fair American, has been turned into a campaign implement to use against him.

For us to employ this concern contemptibly is shameful; and it seems to me unfortunate that our President would take chances with his health by feeling it necessary to go out on a miserable day and give a demonstration of robustness.

It is natural for us all to believe we possess more resistance than we do. It seems to me that there should be those close to him who could restrain our President from taking such chances.

Circus clowns

By the same token, it seems to me to be a sad commentary on our own intelligence to exact such public exhibitions of a younger and more vigorous candidate as well. When Mr. Dewey was in Pittsburgh, he rode bareheaded and in a light thin overcoat, through the streets of Pittsburgh on a raw and threatening day.

When he was in California, he had to appear without a topcoat at all, never mind how unseasonable the concession to California’s touchy native sons. It would have been, we are told, unthinkable for him to have insulted the California populace by wearing an overcoat, no matter how severely the need was indicated!

How long do our public figures have to put up with such circus performances? They are intelligent men and know all too well the folly and the danger of such recourse! Indeed, the more campaigns I live through, the more ashamed I become of the measures which we accept as a necessary part of electioneering.

And when they are reduced to the necessity of exposing themselves to illness in order to satisfy the public, it seems to me it is time to call a halt. Anyone who experienced any satisfaction in seeing the President rain-drenched and cold, ride for four hours through a soaky-cold rain, is a sadist and it is to our shame that such sadism is permitted.

Shame on us

Do you think for a minute that such ordeals do not exact their penalties? Anyone listening to the President in the first five minutes of his address Saturday night could not fail to detect in his voice the natural, overwhelming fatigue that he must have been suffering after such an ordeal. That he was able to rally and swing into his old waggish technique shows what kind of strength still resides in him.

But if he is elected, he will need every atom of that strength for far more important things than fighting the elements on cold and rainy days. And if the Republican candidate wins, young and vigorous though he may be, it will take all his vitality, too, to rise to the grave challenge of the Presidency.

Let us have less of this carnival spirit, this gladiator circus! If each one of us resolves to fight, with all the withering rebuke we can command, every nasty personal allusion that we hear about both candidates, we will go far in cleaning up the dirty innuendo of this campaign.

We are electing a President for these United States. Shall we then thus cheapen and disgrace this highest of offices?

Shame on us!