I Dare Say – Let’s get down to cases (9-25-44)

The Pittsburgh Press (September 25, 1944)



Let’s get down to cases

By Florence Fisher Parry

Now really! We are not going to have accept Orson, too! The public’s capacity for practically anything has been considerably enlarged to meet the presidential campaign from both quarters, but I think this is just a leelte but too much to expect it to absorb.

Or are we to accept the choice of Mr. Orson Welles for the conspicuous role of introducing Mr. Henry Wallace to the Madison Square Garden Party rally last Thursday night as further indication of the New Deal’s bland assumption that the public is ignorant anyway?

When I tuned in to the mellifluous voice the other night and it finally dawned on me that it […] Orson introducing […] one of the biggest Democratic political rallies of the presidential campaign, I simply couldn’t believe it.

Orson? Who is a preposterous figure even on the corner of Hollywood and Vine? For him to be elevated to the platform of any political rally is an incongruity which was enough to put a strain on the credulity of the most cynical anti-New Dealer.

You may have read not more than a week ago of the party that Orson threw in Hollywood. And was it a party! The Borgias would have stood goggle-eyed at its weird and lurid extravagance.

Some of this off-the-beam genius for extravagance and hyperbole entered into a notable radio broadcast which the United States Treasury commissioned Orson to write for the opening radio program of the Fifth War Loan Drive. Those of us who heard this broadcast will not soon forget it! Remember the dialog between the old-timer and our Secretary of the Treasury, Mr. Morgenthau? This radio broadcast hit the all-time corny in radio entertainment.

OK by me!

So, it cannot be claimed by the New Dealers that they are not wholly familiar with Orson’s brand of genius, character and technique. In spite of this, however, he was the chosen one to introduce Mr. Wallace.

Mind you, this is OK by me. But that it should be OK by our candidate for a fourth term is something to ponder. Surely, we should count on more dignity in campaigning than that.

I listened to every word of Orson and the defender of the New Deal faith, Mr. Wallace. As a matter of fact, I have listened to every radio speech of the present Democratic campaign. I even restrained myself from tuning out Mr. Ickes.

I try to hear all of Governor Dewey’s speeches, but if they collide with a New Deal speaker, sorry, I will just have to read the text of Mr. Dewey’s speech the next day.

The weakest thing about this whole campaign is that each party keeps spending its breath on its own disciples and converts. This was done in the last presidential campaign. The Willkie-ites talked to Willkie-ites, and the Roosevelt-ites talked to Roosevelt-ites. A house divided against itself will fall apart if the occupants of each leaning half cling only to their own walls. Governor Dewey spoke to 90,000 in Los Angeles. The total number isn’t important; the important thing is how many of those 90,000 were in the opposing camp and how many of them he could convert to his side.

Why not try this?

In Madison Square Garden, Vice President Wallace spoke to 20,000. It can be assumed that almost everyone present was already a New Dealer. It seems to me that if every person who makes up an audience of a major campaign speech would be pledged to bring with him someone from the opposing party, then we might get somewhere. Then, truly, the American populace might be informed!

I see all too many Republicans tune out a Democratic speech. I see too many New Dealers refuse to listen to any Republican campaigner. Here is where reform is needed. Here is where the weight of propaganda should work. By whatever device, by whatever persuasion, Republican workers in the field should make a Democrat listen to or read a Republican argument. By whatever device or recourse, a New Dealer should make a Republican listen to a New Deal argument.

Then and then only will our people make up their own minds. Then and then only can mass voting be broken up and the shameful machineries of racketeer politics be weakened.