The Charlotte News

Thursday, August 29, 1940


Site Ed. Note: If "No Difference?" sounds a bit anachronistic, announcing a possible disparity in views between a presidential and vice-presidential nominee of the party, it is because at the time the parties maintained the smoke-filled room manner of nominating both presidential and vice-presidential candidates; the nominees were chosen independently and the second spot was often selected quite apart from the wishes of the top of the ticket. In fact, in this instance, McNary, Senator from Oregon, had never even met Willkie when they were nominated to be on the same ticket.

The conventions in those times substituted for the primary system we have today. The 1940 Republican nomination for president was in heavy dispute at the Philadelphia convention before settling on Willkie, a former Democrat. Willkie did not deliver his acceptance speech until Saturday, August 17 in his hometown of Elwood, Indiana, though he had been nominated after six ballots on Friday, June 28 at 1:00 a.m. (See "Candidate", June 28, 1940) The young, tough, anti-mob New York prosecutor Tom Dewey, who would become the Republican nominee in both 1944 and 1948, (and would become the first and still only newsprint-only "President" of course in 1948), had led the initial balloting with Robert Taft, Senator from Ohio and son of William Howard Taft, second, and Wendell Willkie third. Cigars, no doubt, sold out at the newsstands around Philadelphia during those long four days.

Of course, since 1964, both parties have known prior to the convention who the nominee would be, although the formerly spotty primary system did not serve absolutely to preordain the nominee until the full primary system went into effect in 1976.

And not since 1972 has a major party convention extended much past 11:15 p.m. The witching hour apparently has been thought since 1972 to be a bit too bewitching. (We still pride ourselves on being among perhaps twenty or thirty Americans on the east coast outside the convention hall at the time who actually saw and heard Senator McGovern's speech live at 2:00 a.m. It's too bad most of the nation missed it and voted for the other guy...)

The Mule Stirs

But the Ox Still Has To Be Goaded Into Action

The Senate has at length decided to quit gambling with the national destiny by blocking the draft. But it can take a little credit for it. The temper of the people was so clear that the politicians simply did not dare to dally further.

The deliberative process ought not, of course, to be abandoned even in times like these. But the question at hand had been thoroughly threshed out a month ago and the will of the people was already unmistakably clear. What has gone on since has been mere obstruction, politics, and the chronic reluctance of men trained to the fence-sitting of snide American politics to take any definite action of any sort.

Nor did they allow the measure to pass through without more or less devious amendments. The placing of the upper age limit at 30 is certainly dubious, in view of the fact that one of the things wanted is highly trained mechanics. And 900,000 soldiers will certainly not be enough to meet the sort of emergency which threatens us. It may be all that can be handled by the army until well after the election, and it is probable that the limit will be extended in time.

But the whole matter is obviously a play with politics, designed to mislead the people--a dangerous game in that it may persuaded them that the danger is relatively slight.

Just as dangerous is the provision for confining the use of troops to this hemisphere. It certainly serves notice to Japan that she may safely go ahead with her burglary in the East. And nobody really knows where we shall have to use troops to our best advantage.

Even as it stands, however, the measure is still a long way from being law. The House Military Affairs Committee, made up mainly of nonentities, is already busily playing politics with the bill. And Representative Martin, the Republican leader, has given every sign of intending to deal with it only from the viewpoint of advantage to his party in the coming election. The action of Mr. Willkie in this situation may well be watched closely, for, as Raymond Clapper has pointed out, his power to make his party follow his leadership is one of the decisive tests as to his fitness for the Presidency.

One thing is hopeful: the House is more immediately responsive to the will of the majority of the people than the Senate.

Axis Ally

Nazis Line Up France To Fight Against Britain

There is increasing prospect that "France" will shortly be actively fighting Britain by the side of the Nazi oppressor.

Already the reports indicate that 800 planes have been brought from Africa and turned over to the Nazis, in flat violation of the terms of the armistice and promises to Britain.

And "Foreign Minister" Paul Baudouin, of the so-called Petain Government, has been busily denouncing Britain for the last ten days, denounced her again yesterday for her alleged responsibility for the revolt in East Africa.

And now comes the news that Pierre Laval, the real power in the Petain regime, is in Paris seeking changes in the puppet government. Prospects seem to be that Lavall is slated to fall soon, on the ground that he is not pro-Nazi enough but instead wants to orient the "new France" toward Italy. And his rush to Paris is probably a desperate effort to conciliate the Nazis by advocating everything they want.

In any case, the proposed changes are significant. To be added to the Cabinet are Pierre Etienne Flandin and Jacques Doriot. Curiously, Baudouin will resign as being too mild.

Flandin is the fat-cat traitor who, as Premiere, took the decision to ignore the re-militarization of Germany and the entry of German troops into the Rhineland, because action would injure the pocketbooks of himself and his gang. He has long been a militant Nazi.

Doriot, like Mussolini, is a former blacksmith who began as a Communist and then submitted to being a Nazi because he thought it offered him a better opportunity for power. He is the traitor who organized the Fifth Column activities in France which so signally aided Hitler. And is said to be Hitler's choice as Fuehrer for puppet France.

These men will almost certainly drag France into war against England. For they well know that if Germany should lose the war they will hang for treason.

No Difference?

Tweedledee Certainly Doesn't Sound Like Tweedledum

After listening to Senator McNary's acceptance speech, Wendell Willkie told the reporters,

"I see no difference between Senator McNary's views and my own."

Which must have cost him an effort to keep a straight face.

The McNary speech was indeed a masterpiece of hedging and even of about-facing. But even so, it is impossible to reconcile it with what Mr. Willkie is on record, either by act or word, as believing.

McNary hemmed and hawed about the power issue, but in the end he came right out for Government development and ownership. He had to, for he has voted on that line at every opportunity ever since he entered the Senate. And if there is not some difference between that and what Mr. Willkie believes, then Mr. Willkie has been doing some about-facing himself or the country has been somehow misled. Mr. Willkie dodged the power question in his acceptance speech, but all his utterances and deeds show that he is emphatically opposed to Government ownership, though he is willing to concede the necessity for Government supervision.

McNary, as usual, was for a subsidy for the farmers. And he believes especially, he said, in the export subsidy instead of the policy of domestic subsidy and scarcity. Which is odd, seeing that he voted against the export subsidy for cotton in the 76th Congress. But the real thing which ails the farmers in this country, he went on, was that Mr. Hull's reciprocal trade agreements had been pulling down the tariff walls and allowing foreign farm products to compete with American products.

But if words mean anything, there is a difference here between Mr. McNary and Mr. Willkie. Before he was nominated Mr. Willkie came out flatfootedly for the Hull reciprocal trade program, and made no bones of his conviction that tariffs do not protection but injure farmers.

And then Mr. McNary got down to national defense. Again he hemmed and hawed, but he did say that he was against appeasement, that he believed in being strong, and that the Administration was to blame for the fact that we aren't strong now. Which, so far as it goes, is about where Mr. Willkie stands. But if Mr. McNary meant it, he has undergone a sudden and overwhelming conversion. For in the 76th Congress (first and second sessions, 1939, and third session, 1940) he voted against the administration-sponsored bills to (1) acquire and store strategic war materials, (2) give the navy fourteen new bases and greatly expand the existing bases, and (3) raise the army air strength to 6,000 planes--against every national defense bill proposed, that is.

Moreover, he carefully refrained, in his speech, from making himself plain about aid to the Allies. His record, however, shows clearly that he is dead against it. For in the 76th Congress he voted (1) to retain the arms embargo as against the Allies; (2) against the President's revised neutrality bill; and (3) against the trading of surplus war stocks to be Allies.

There certainly is a difference there between Mr. McNary's views and those of Mr. Willkie, who is squarely on record in favor of effective aid to the Allies

Plain fact is that the Republican Presidential candidate and the Republican Vice-Presidential candidate are most strangely assorted bedfellows. And that at the present they are simply trying to smooth up their incompatibility as far as possible. They have no monopoly on that, of course--are no more ill-assorted, for instance, than Franklin Roosevelt and, say Jesse Jones in the same Administration. And it is no odder to hear Mr. Willkie say that there are no differences between his views and Mr. McNary's than it is to see Carter Olson lining up for a third term for the New Deal. Nevertheless, the phenomenon seems worth reporting. Party loyalty and the dizzy vision of the crown do strange things to men.


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