Westbrook Pegler – LaGuardia (10-31-41)

The Pittsburgh Press (October 31, 1941)


By Westbrook Pegler

New York –
If I were a resident of the city of New York, I would vote against Fiorello LaGuardia in the coming election not so much because I would expect William O’Dwyer, the Democratic nominee, to make a fine mayor, although I think he would be pretty good, as because I am anti-New Deal or new order and anti-communist, and Mr. LaGuardia is just a miniature Franklin D. Roosevelt, politically, temperamentally and every other way, except that he has not allowed any member of his family to fatten up on the spoils of office.

I am a reactionary, that is what I am, and I would like to see an political reaction get off to a good start in our largest city. Moreover, I am sick of the Hitleresque, personalized abuse and vengeance which have issued from both the White House and the New York City Hall these last several years and believe it degrades two of our highest offices and provokes intemperance in the people.

At this point, you may say that I am a fine one to be objecting to intemperate language but the answer is that I am not a public official and, being very young and impressionable, probably have been affected by the tone of Mr. Roosevelt’s speeches and our mayor’s.

No less pro-war than Roosevelt

But, what the hell, men – and you can blame that little vulgarity on the rulers because I never did swear, drink or smoke before 1932 – if you are anti-New Deal or new order as to the National Administration, you can’t consistently support a half-size FDR for an office which, in domestic importance, is second only to the Presidency itself.

I see where The World-Telegram, which opposed Roosevelt politically in 1940, and Captain Patterson’s Daily News, which has been anti-Roosevelt on the war issue and hot as fire in that opposition, too, are both in LaGuardia’s corner in this campaign and I think that is about the silliest display of editorial confusion that I have ever seen. Because LaGuardia is Roosevelt without any reservations that I have been able to discover and the little one is subject to the same objections, pound for pound, that are held against Mr. Big.

LaGuardia is no less pro-war than President Roosevelt but I am one who is inclined to string along with, but a little behind, both of them on that issue and therefore probably don’t make very good sense if you regard the war as the one and only issue. But I don’t regard the war as the one and only. I am afraid and convinced that war has been spelled out for the USA by past events and Adolf Hitler and, such being my belief, I want to know that this sacrifice will not be made for the purpose of creating here, by our own efforts or political folly, the very condition that the enemy is trying to inflict on us.

LaGuardia just ain’t the Butch type

I want to see a mayor in New York and presently a President in Washington, who will not only repudiate communism but run communists and party-liners ragged just as LaGuardia and the President now harass Nazis, Bundists and those whom they call Quislings or appeasers.

The attempts to change LaGuardia’s name from Little Flower to Butch has failed and the reason is that he just ain’t the Butch type. He is a needler and a good showman and don’t let anyone tell you he doesn’t like his picture in the papers because his vanity eats it up.

The reason why he seems to be a Butch is that he fights tomcat style and would just as soon chew your nose off or scratch out your eyes, in the sense of repartee, of course, whereas his opponents have been mostly old style, standup, Tom Figg political fighters. But, like Harold Ickes, he will tin-can it if you give him the laces across the mush in the clinches and tromp on his toes and bull him around and he has got by with his rough stuff because most of his opponents have too much dignity and respect for the office and public opinion or too little guttersnipe in them.

A reporter stopped him one day when LaGuardia, in that pip-squeak voice of his, yelled:

I am going to tell your boss on you.

The reporter simulated LaGuardia’s voice with a high falsetto and screamed back:

Yes, and I am going to tell my mama on you.

Did that fry him!

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