I Dare Say – Say, Mr. Willkie! (8-30-44)

The Pittsburgh Press (August 30, 1944)



Say, Mr. Willkie!

By Florence Fisher Parry

I am worried and I am uneasy and I am embarrassed a little about Mr. Willkie. Four years is too short a time in which to have to reconstruct one’s human fealties.

I’ve been trying to figure out just when it was that I began to feel – well – a little less valiant about him. It couldn’t have been so very long ago, come to think of it. When he was out there in Wisconsin beginning to get hoarse all over again for the things he kept on believing – I was for him.

When he dropped out after Wisconsin, I felt pretty bad, but I said, “Well, here’s a realist for once who is big enough to step down. And NOW what a performance he’ll give.”

I could hardly wait to get the papers, to read when he was going to begin the fight to restore to us the two-party system and the traditions of this Republic. I took for granted his big-mindedness, his farsightedness, so that such a thing as his not pitching in right away with his horse voice and fighting the same things he fought four years ago never occurred to me! How could it? Wasn’t he four years older and bigger and wiser and fighting-er now?

False whisper?

So, I waited for the papers to tell me. And I waited and I waited and I’m still waiting.

When they started to whisper that he was going over to the administration, I didn’t believe it, of course.

Then the other day news came out he was going to confer with Tom Dewey’s top advisor, John Foster Dulles. I had the funniest feeling that he was – oh, I don’t know – open to persuasion. Not exactly bargaining. No, he wouldn’t do that. But (shall we way?) “open-minded” like those men you see on the racetrack who haven’t placed their bets yet.

And it just began to dawn on me that I’ve never known or read of any great man in history about whom there was any general speculation as to just where he stood when it came to a great issue. There has never been a great American about whom there was any doubt as to how he was going to cast his ballot when it came election time, or whom he was going to support or oppose. Not one of them was THAT open-minded!

And when it came to a time of national crisis, and history itself came plumb up to a fork in the road and had to take a course either right or left. I never heard of a really great man who stopped for a minute to wait to see what other folks were going to do.

Two months to go

Here it is practically September, two months before a presidential election, two months only for this country to decide the biggest question it ever had put before it in its whole perilous history.

What are you waiting for, Mr. Willkie? Don’t you know that negation carries its own weight, and delay its own oblique influence?

This is a time to hew to the line. The issues are crystal clear. You support the Republican ticket or you support the Democratic ticket. You want Tom Dewey or you want Franklin Roosevelt, and the Party each represents.

This is no time for split tickets or split politics or split fealties. This is a time when you have to be either for the New Deal and everything that goes with it, or against it with all the passion and fervor and sweat it takes a throw it out. This is no time to nurse grievances or bruises. This is a time to fight.

I keep remembering, Mr. Willkie, those words you said in the Commodore Hotel on the moment of your defeat nearly four years ago. You said in effect that you’d never stop fighting; that those who thought you would didn’t know you.

That the day should ever come when you would stall!