The Charlotte News

Wednesday, July 7, 1948


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that the Communists in Berlin announced a two-year plan to bind Berlin economically to the Soviet occupation zone of Germany and warned Berliners not to pin their hopes on the Western airlift. They said also that they were drawing up a constitution for a German republic.

The first coal shipments were flown into Berlin to aid flagging industrial production, down 40 percent since the blockade began.

Rumors abounded in Eastern Europe that the Soviets would seek to annex Rumania and Bulgaria and place the Red Army back in Czechoslovakia. The prevailing view in Washington was, however, that the Russians would not at the time resort to force to subdue Eastern satellites.

The U.S. rejected Poland's June 18 protest against the policies of the Western powers in Germany as violations of the July, 1945 Potsdam accord, and advised Poland to complain to Russia for preventing Eastern-bloc countries from cooperating in the general recovery program for Europe.

The Russian Communists refused a Yugoslav invitation to a July 21 Yugoslav Communist congress on the basis that Yugoslavia had placed itself out of the family of Communist parties.

Heavy fighting erupted the previous night along the Tel Aviv-Haifa highway, between Tira and Jaba, between Arabs and Israelis, three days before the expiration of the four-week truce in Palestine. Several U.N. observer trucks, driven by U.S. Marines, including one Marine from Shelby, N.C., had been fired upon by Arabs before being allowed to pass. Count Folke Bernadotte, U.N. mediator, expressed hope nevertheless that the truce might be extended. It was reported that the Israeli Government had decided to agree to the extension, but no official reply had been made by either side.

The British Foreign Office reported that five British subjects were kidnaped in Palestine the previous night by members of the Jewish Irgun organization.

A Justice Department official testified to the House Expenditures subcommittee that the FBI was investigating the Army four-man board which determined freight rates the Government would pay during the war, that the four-man board came from the railroads and went back to the railroads after the war, and their actions may have resulted in 300 million dollars worth of Government overpayments on freight, that the Government was still wasting 100 million dollars per year in overpayments. He recommended that a central rate-making agency of the Government be established, backed by a strong prosecutorial arm to take to court railroad abuses in rates charged the Government.

The Democratic convention sergeant-at-arms, Leslie Biffle, said that 80 Philadelphia policemen and 50 private detectives would be on hand at the convention starting July 12 to forestall any effort from the galleries to revive a move for General Eisenhower by chanting his name. "We want Willkie" chants from the galleries in 1940 had been credited with helping Mr. Willkie to be nominated by the Republicans. Mr. Biffle had heard that a move would be attempted to stampede the convention.

Mayor Hubert Humphrey of Minneapolis urged the Democratic platform committee to write something "strong and positive" on two of the nation's foremost problems, high living costs and housing. He had already announced that he and 50 Democrats would seek to have a strong civil rights plank embracing the President's entire program. Other speakers before the platform committee also recommended a strong civil rights plank. Southern opposition, for the nonce, remained silent.

An informal News poll conducted among Charlotte residents found them solidly opposed to President Truman, and some wanted General Eisenhower to be the Democratic nominee.

On the editorial page, "Answer to the Eisenhower Riddle" finds two questions remaining in the wake of General Eisenhower's firm statement that he would not be a candidate for the Democrats: whether he meant it and who was Justice Douglas. It posits that he truly meant no "posolutely and absitively". James Roosevelt and the Americans for Democratic Action, who wanted the General and still believed he might accept a draft, were dreaming.

Justice Douglas, who was not well known to the American people, had been the alternative to Senator Truman for the vice-presidential nomination in 1944. The big city bosses and Southern conservatives, who now trumpeted the draft-Eisenhower move, wanted Senator Truman, believed Justice Douglas, like Vice-President Henry Wallace, was too much of a New Dealer.

Justice Douglas was a true New Dealer who would not engage in the compromises which the President had or the erraticism of Henry Wallace. It was possible that the left had favored General Eisenhower only in the hope of having a brokered convention in which Justice Douglas could emerge as the compromise candidate. But the fact that he had been rejected in 1944 boded ill for his acceptance this time, with a party split even more between the left and right.

The piece thinks that above all else, the most astonishing phenomenon of the campaign was the President's ability to take punishment.

"Soviet Humbug in Tito's Act" finds a British authority on the Balkans, novelist and journalist Rebecca West, to be convincing in her assessment that the fall from Soviet grace by Marshal Tito was a trick in an important new Soviet diplomatic offensive. It quotes from her letter to the New York Herald Tribune, expressing the belief that the "rebellion" of Tito was concocted in cooperation with Stalin to provide a pretext for Russia to send troops to Yugoslavia to eliminate with force any dissent and establish the notion that the Soviet reigned supreme in Eastern Europe, that revolt against it would be put down swiftly. It would profoundly impress the German people and break the patriotic spirit of Yugoslav youth who since the war had placed so much hope in Tito.

The piece agrees, reiterates that it might be an excuse by Stalin to eliminate the Cominform as a concession to the West in exchange for a compromise regarding Germany.

"Keeping Our Nerve in Berlin" comments on the separate diplomatic protests made in notes submitted to Moscow by the U.S., Britain, and France regarding the Berlin blockade, that they demonstrated that reason and calm still prevailed among the Western allies, as no ultimatum had been addressed to Russia.

A move toward use of military force could turn the situation into a major calamity. Yet, the State Department and military commanders were being so advised by many influential people inside and outside the Government, on the premise that it would cause the Soviets to back down. The question was whether the U.S. was prepared for war, to which the answer was no, known to the Russians and U.S. military leaders. If the Russians did not back down, then the U.S. would be caught in a compromised position which could trigger a Russian march through Europe, one which America at present was powerless to prevent.

The chance that such a bluff might save Berlin was not worth the risk and the situation was not so desperate to warrant the gamble.

Drew Pearson finds that while every seasoned Democratic leader believed that the President would suffer one of the worst defeats in history come November, the President felt otherwise. He said, while snapping his fingers, that he would take Thomas Dewey "like that". General Eisenhower, he added, was a soldier, did not want to be President, his military background not qualifying him for many of the responsibilities of the office. The President was planning a 60-day campaign trip throughout the country from August through October.

A shortwave radio contest by the World Wide Broadcasting Foundation for the best letters on how to win the peace had resulted in 14,000 letters and a give-away of 1,750 prizes to the Italian people. Generoso Pope, the Italian-American newspaper publisher, had translated the letters. Prizes included wristwatches and hats, as well as one tractor, donated by various companies. Judge Ferdinand Pecora of the New York Supreme Court, Baltimore Mayor Thomas D'Alesandro, and Vincent Impellitrini, Deputy Mayor of New York, were the judges.

He next publishes a letter to General Eisenhower from two G.I.'s, now reporters, who had interviewed him once in Shanghai, saying that the American people wanted him as their President and imploring that he accept the draft of the Democrats, or at least allow his name to go on the ballot in November.

Harry Butcher, close friend and wartime Naval aide to General Eisenhower, had confirmed that the General would have campaigned against the Republican ticket had the GOP nominated an isolationist such as Senator Robert Taft or Senator John Bricker.

Joseph & Stewart Alsop comment on the fact that virtually the entire Democratic leadership had repudiated the President and his nomination, communicating their belief that he was inadequate as President—or, more likely, their belief that he could not win.

If nominated, Mr. Truman would have to wage the loneliest campaign in recent history. Most of the party bosses who had sought General Eisenhower as the nominee would now, with the General's firm withdrawal of his name from further consideration, turn to Justice Douglas as the alternative to the President. That group included Mayor William O'Dwyer of New York, the Americans for Democratic Action, and most labor leaders, the left of the Democratic Party.

It was surprising that CIO president Philip Murray had supported General Eisenhower as he had said publicly that he would have signed Taft-Hartley, which the President vetoed.

The Douglas supporters claimed that the President would be short a majority by 90 to 110 delegates on the first ballot. They predicted a rush then to their candidate on subsequent ballots, inclusive of the Southern delegates, an unlikely prospect. Moreover, Justice Douglas did not have the benefit of a sure win in November as the polls indicated for General Eisenhower. Indeed, it was not clear he would do any better than the President.

Much of the strange confidence surrounding the President was traceable to "court jester" George Allen, who was a confidant to both the President and General Eisenhower of late.

The ensuing six months, they predict, would be significant in the history of the country and of the world. The President's prestige was seriously undermined even if he ultimately achieved the nomination.

James Marlow comments on how the intrusion of television cameras for the first time at political conventions would transform them, denying the old format of long-winded speeches and histrionics which appealed to live audiences of delegates but not necessarily to those viewing remotely a ghostly image of a person unknown to the audience. Delegates in former times could stand conventions for four or five days. Television audiences would be more impatient, would want to get on with the show, to see action. The long speeches would do little good before a bored television audience, expecting drama and comedy aplenty by the minute, conditioned as they were in the visual motile medium by three decades of movie attendance. He predicts that the parties might lose lots of votes in such a new atmosphere.

There were only 35,000 television sets in the country in 1948 and thirty stations, concentrated in the major markets, 18 of the stations being in New York City, Philadelphia, Chicago, Washington, Baltimore, Boston and Los Angeles. Only Richmond had a station in the South. Only Los Angeles and Salt Lake City had stations west of the Mississippi. With signal reception limited by the strength of home antennas, few stations could be seen beyond a radius of about 70 miles with any degree of clarity even through the 1960's. Programming was limited. So the idea of reaching the hinterlands or "millions" with these broadcasts was not yet a reality, though it would be by 1952 and 1956. Yet, the conventions themselves, while stressing more telegenic presentations with time, and eliminating the unseemly floor fights and the delegate mustering before the cameras, would little change through the 1972 conventions.

In 1976, the extended primaries began which virtually determined the nominee for the presidency before the conventions, leaving only the vice-presidential nominee as drama. After the debacles of the 1968 and 1972 Democratic conventions, the emphasis in both parties would be increasingly on presenting streamlined, largely ceremonial affairs, meant for showing party unity and presentation to a national audience of a packaged candidate without any visible flaws, mussed hair, crooked ties, or five o'clock shadows.

Whether that is an advance or a regression, we get the government for which, collectively, we ask. It is imperative to convince those who do not understand the packaging, therefore, how it works, so that they can demand genuine realism, not packaged commercials for public consumption.

But in a land where many people think the most splendid event of the year is the Super Bowl, there appears little hope for change of the political process, it would seem. It has become a society, perhaps a world, which increasingly demands "truth" while daily engaging in the worst, most superficial fictions imaginable, where escape becomes the reality of the day until reality is only a relative term, reserved for tragedy. And there are many, obviously, who now deny the reality even of tragedies, who find them to be created somehow by the Gov'ment to trick the naive viewers into believing something which is not real for some ulterior motive, usually posited on taking their security blankets, i.e. guns, from them and establishing martial law. Only, therefore, the sapient seers are able to penetrate the blue-screen facade of the charade with hired "actors" and glimpse the "truth", that the presented truth is really fiction.

The best solution to it all is just to turn off the tv and certainly the radio and read and think.


HALDEMAN: Heh-heh. Damn [Charles] Colson thing.

PRESIDENT: He do something else?

HALDEMAN: Yeah. Uh, [1968 Democratic vice-presidential nominee Edmund] Muskie sent those oranges down to the veterans in the, the group on Saturday I mean.


HALDEMAN: He didn't, he didn't go down himself, but he's sent oranges.

PRESIDENT: Colson ordered some oranges for him?

HALDEMAN: Colson sent oranges down yesterday. (Laughter)

HALDEMAN: (Laughing) From Muskie.

PRESIDENT: Is it out?

HALDEMAN: I don't know whether it's out yet or not. They'll get it out. (Laughter)

PRESIDENT: (Laughing) He just ordered 'em.

HALDEMAN: (Laughing) Yeah. He's got an awful lot of cases of oranges at the—I don't know how the hell he does that stuff, but he ... it's good, you know, he's been around the District here so long, he has a lot of contacts and, he, he, as a local guy he can get stuff done here, but—and he's got no—and he's—gonna get caught at some of these things.

PRESIDENT: (Unintelligible) ...admit it.

HALDEMAN: Well he has, he has been caught.

PRESIDENT: It's all right?

HALDEMAN: But, he's, he's got a lot done that he hasn't been caught at and, uh, he, he gets those guys, you know, something like that going. (Tape Noise) of course this is uh—we got some stuff that he doesn't know anything about, too, through, uh,...

PRESIDENT: [Tom] Huston?

HALDEMAN: No, through [Dwight] Chapin's crew and, and Ron Walker and the advance men we got, we got, uh—see our plant's in the...

PRESIDENT: What do you do?

HALDEMAN: the (unintelligible)...

PRESIDENT: (Unintelligible)?

HALDEMAN: ...and some of our—guess you've gotta—what we've got is a, is a guy that nobody, none of us knows except Dwight [Chapin]...


HALDEMAN: Who is a, uh, and, and, who is just completely removed. There's no contact at all. Who has a mobilized a crew of about—I don't what it is. He's, he's starting to build it now. We're gonna use it for the campaign next year.

PRESIDENT: (Unintelligible)


PRESIDENT: Are they really any good?

HALDEMAN: In fact this guy's a real conspirator-type who, who can sorta...

PRESIDENT: Like Huston then?

HALDEMAN: Thug type guy, no, his, he's a stronger guy than Huston. Huston is a, is a stay in back room.


HALDEMAN: This is the kinda guy can get out and tear things up.

PRESIDENT: What do they, what do they do with, uh, do they just uh,...

HALDEMAN: They get in and—they were the ones that did the, the Nixon signs, for instance, when Muskie was in New Hampshire.

PRESIDENT: Oh did they?

HALDEMAN: And, uh...

PRESIDENT: Everybody thought that was great.

HALDEMAN: They, you know—things of that sort. They, there some of that, and then they're, they're the, they're gonna stir up some of this Vietcong flag business as Colson's gonna do it through hardhats and legionnaires. What Colson's gonna do on it, and what I suggested he do, and I think that they can get a, away with this, do it with the Teamsters. Just ask them to dig up those, their eight thugs.


HALDEMAN Just call, call, uh, what's his name.

PRESIDENT: Fitzsimmons.

HALDEMAN: Is trying to get—play our game anyway. Is just, just tell Fitzsimmons...

PRESIDENT: They, they've got guys who'll go in and knock their heads off.

HALDEMAN: Sure. Murderers. Guys that really, you know, that's what they really do. Like the Steelworkers have and—except we can't deal with the Steelworkers at the moment.


HALDEMAN: We can deal with the Teamsters. And they, you know,...


HALDEMAN:'s the regular strikebusters-types and all that and they (tape noise) types and this and then they're gonna beat the shit out of some of these people. And, uh, and hope they really hurt 'em. You know, I mean go in with some real—and smash some noses. (Tape Noise) ...some pretty good fights.

PRESIDENT: I take it you can (unintelligible) picture of the guy in the [Washington] Post that the reporter (tape noise, unintelligible) back injured and all.

HALDEMAN: I didn't see that. I must admit [Pat] Buchanan said in his summary—it's obvious the Post is going for a Pulitzer prize on their coverage of the thing or something because they're just spilling it...


HALDEMAN: the ton with all these (tape noise) picture stories and everything else.

PRESIDENT: (Tape Noise) just don't want to overplay it. They'll just get, the country'll just get a belly full of these people.

[Lots and lots more tape noise.]

A letter from A. W. Black finds the age of love and sympathy conquering war having passed, and that the argument for world government by the United World Federalists could not change the fact. He believes world government would always be inimical to the interests of the United States and quotes Senator Tom Connally's negative appraisal of the prospect.

A letter writer finds the letter signed by 200 Protestant clergymen objecting to the new draft law and urging young men not to register to be a form of anarchy and treason. He believes them conscientious in their objections and prepared to go to prison for their beliefs, but also asserts that it was unlikely the Government would prosecute them, though by all rights, he suggests, it ought.

The editors indicate that since there was no declared enemy in time of peace, the opposition to the draft law did not qualify under the Constitution as treason but could be seen as a conspiracy to violate the draft law.

It could also be seen as an exercise of freedom of speech and nothing more.

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