The Pittsburgh Press (February 28, 1944)
Pegler: Rebellion in Congress
By Westbrook Pegler
Kansas City, Missouri –
There is no excuse for anyone to believe that President Roosevelt has learned a lesson from his fracas with Dear Alben Barkley. There was no indication of reform in his telegram. He just realized that he laid the whip a little too heavily on an old servant, who then blew the job and threatened to picket the premises.
The original insult to Congress was written with deliberate intent, and with obvious pride in the cheap and sneering flippancy about need and greed and its meaning was not altering by the President’s wheedling mash note to a man whose sense of honor was less alert when he was being elected Senator from Kentucky by WPA money in a hard contest.
He meant to insult Congress and he did, nor was this the first time a recent similar instance being his charge of fraud in the controversy over the soldiers’ vote.
Before that he had threatened to take action himself if Congress failed to pass a law to his liking by a certain deadline. Before that he had, by stealth, attempted to impose a $25,000 limitation on the salaries of civilians unconnected with the war effort or any public project, after Congress, knowing that this would lose, not gain money for the Treasury, and for other reason, had deliberately and pointedly refused o comply with a suggestion first tossed off by Mrs. Roosevelt, who may or may not have known that it had been an article in the platform of the Communist Party.
Return to manhood, decency slow
Of course, he wanted to insult Congress. What other regard would he have for a body which early in his rule, delivered itself into a condition of helplessness, servility and mockery by handing him, without restriction, billions of dollars in the naïve belied that he would hold himself above politics in its distribution?
What other regard would he have for a man who would not only accept the sort of election help that Barkley received from money voted to relieve human misery but offer the cynical justification that, after all, this was politics?
The return of manhood and civic decency to Congress has been slow, and, to the credit of the House of Representatives, it must be acknowledged that the blush of reviving self-respect first tinted the frog-belly pallor of the national legislature there.
It was in the House that a number of bills were passed in defiance of the White House and the entire Fascist movement in Washington two years ago, only to be strangled in the Senate Committee on Education and Labor, which would have brought within the rule of law the terrorists, brothel-keepers, gangsters and Communists of President Roosevelt’s following in the union movement.
But the House, too, had been bad enough and had earned over a number of years of miserable and corrupt betrayal of the whole American concept of government that contempt which Mr. Roosevelt revealed in the “take-a-law” days when Tommy the Cork, Jimmy the Eaglet and other White House walking delegates, in swaggering impudence, stalked the halls giving orders to men elected by the people.
Rebellion long overdue
This rebellion against the New Deal and pointedly against the sneering arrogance of the Treasury in its assumption of the power to make, not merely recommend or request taxes, has been long overdue, but its effect will be lost if any important section of Congress permits itself to be seduced again by the backslapping which has followed.
The whole history of the Roosevelt administration stands against any hope that the dominating personality and his ideological advisers and coaches have the slightest respect for the constitutional status of the Legislature.
Mr. Roosevelt gave orders to Congress too long to be able to change now and restore to the men who always before touched their caps to him in return for handouts and political backing, the rights, duties and prerogatives which their oath, their citizenship and their self-respect lay open them. He just doesn’t think that way.