Thursday, November 9, 1944

The Charlotte News

Thursday, November 9, 1944


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that General Patton's Third Army had begun the day before a major offensive drive along a 50-mile front between the Luxembourg border and the Rhine-Marne Canal, east of Nancy. Three divisions had been sent south of Metz the previous day. They were joined by a fourth division, while two more divisions moved from the north of Metz. Progress was reported in the area of Berg, just below the Luxembourg border. The four divisions to the south of Metz progressed up to three miles along a 25-mile front, capturing 16 villages, some of which were being re-captured from the Nazis.

South of Metz, the line went from Cheminot to the Chateau-Salins area, forcing a mile-deep wedge north of the Rhine-Marne Canal at a point twenty miles east of Nancy and twenty miles west of Sarrebourg.

In support of the offensive, 1,300 American heavy bombers carpet-bombed the area around Metz. With overcast weather, the bombers and 300 fighters escorting them met no enemy resistance from the air and only light flak from the ground.

The Germans had evacuated the Strumien Valley in southern Yugoslavia. The Russians had crossed the Danube in northern Yugoslavia, 25 miles south of Budapest.

Paris radio stated that the Russians had broken into Buda on the west bank of the Danube, but this report was as yet unconfirmed by Moscow.

A 100-mile per hour typhoon had knocked out American supply lines in northern Leyte in the Philippines, holding up General MacArthur's operations on the island to take the Japanese stronghold at the port of Ormoc on the west coast.

Secretary of War Henry Stimson announced that American casualties in the war through October 28 had surpassed the half million mark at 509,195, of whom 437,356 were from the Army and 71,839 from the Navy. Of the Army total, 84,811 had been killed, 243,054 wounded, and 55,011 missing. The Army total had increased fully 20,235 over the total of the previous week. The reason for part of the dramatic increase was better accuracy in reporting. The Navy total increased 1,268. Of the Navy total, 28,399 had been killed, 29,442 wounded, and 9,311 missing.

The remainder of the news of the day on the front page relates to the election results, still in the course of tabulation, indicating that the election had been the closest since the narrow 516,000 vote plurality achieved in 1916 by President Woodrow Wilson over former Supreme Court Justice and future Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes. The final margin in 1944 would be 3.6 million, less than the 4.9 million victory margin for FDR over Wendell Willkie in 1940, the next closest election since 1916. All other intervening election margins since 1920 had been at the six or seven million mark, except for 1936 when FDR scored a landslide over Alf Landon by 11 million votes, 60.8% to 36.5%.

Of the small number of states which tabulated the soldier votes separately, fully 67% had voted for the President.

Prime Minister Churchill praised the re-election of the President and indicated the likelihood in early 1945 of a conference between Stalin, FDR, and Churchill.

Nicaragua closed up shop for two days in celebration of the President's victory.

They were Contras, too, we suppose, or, if you lean toward some of the opposition's argument in 1944, perhaps incipient Sandinistas.

On the editorial page, "Losers' Due" urges those who had been Roosevelt haters to seek self-examination and determine whether they were simply out of step with their neighbors.

It reminds that in Charlotte, two conservative middle class neighborhoods had, combined, voted for Roosevelt. Although the Sidney Hillman CIO crowd, the Communists, the bureaucrats, the ne'er-do-wells may have contributed to the election of the President, there were also many solid citizens who did so. Perhaps the Roosevelt haters, it suggests, were simply out of step with the mainstream of America.

They were Contras, too, or, perhaps incipient Sandinistas.

"Hold It!" examines the self-serving claims of the polls that they were quite accurate in predicting the popular vote outcome in the presidential election, finds the claims dubious. By example, it holds up to the light the Hurja and Gallup polls.

Hurja had predicted that Dewey would win by 52 to 48 percent and 364 to 167 in the electoral college. But Hurja's divergence from reality could be readily explained by its narrow sample, relying on 28 select counties in fifteen states.

More problematic was Dr. Gallup. He had predicted a Roosevelt popular vote victory at 52 percent, not far off the mark. But he had also stated that there were 18 sure states for Roosevelt and nine for Dewey, with twenty pivotal states too close to call, only three of which he gave as leaning to Roosevelt. Most of these states wound up with the President.

All of it was potentially thrown off by the unknown factor of the soldier vote and the two or three percent margin of error in each poll. But, concludes the piece rhetorically, what good was a poll if it could not even approximate the end result.

"A Second" reports that North Carolinians had accepted all five proposed amendments to the State Constitution. The piece speculates that the decisive margin for them was indicative of the electorate having simply ratified the judgment of the Legislature in Raleigh without questioning too much the wisdom of each of these amendments.

"Who Cares?" expresses insouciance at the rumor circulating that Hitler was either dead or insane, for his unknown whereabouts. Some had speculated that he was in the care of a brain specialist.

Regardless, Hitler, the piece insists, was not the embodiment of Germany, only its most sinister expression. His death would have no more impact on the war than had the death of Erwin Rommel. Germany would continue to fight until the bitter end and its military might finally destroyed.

Of course, there is no way history may test the premise, for the twain, the death of Hitler and the final destruction of Berlin by the Russians, occurred with virtual simultaneity, leading to capitulation by the Germans eight days after Der Fuehrer ended his existence.

Drew Pearson first tells of the coming British White Paper which would show that the country was bankrupt from the war. British investments worldwide had been liquidated to pay the bills. The conclusion would be that, to enable continued free trade by Britain, other countries would need come to its aid after the war. Otherwise, the result would be barter and the formation consequently of trade cartels similar to those which beset Germany after World War I and led to the economic woes in which Nazism ultimately thrived.

British economist Lord John Maynard Keynes was proposing to American representatives in secret conference in London that there should be a post-war lend-lease program consisting of 6.5 billion dollars worth of raw materials provided Britain in 1945, whereby the British could then manufacture goods from them and resell 3.5 billion dollars worth of the lend-lease materials in the world marketplace to re-establish their export trade. A proposed court of two Americans and one Briton would determine which goods could be used for the export trade. The plan was to be submitted to Congress prior to Christmas.

He next turns to the Army engineers and their foresight in designing bridges two years before D-Day. The bridges were to replace particular bridges in France, Holland, and Belgium, as they would be blown up by the enemy in retreat. The engineers achieved exact specifications from members of the underground. The parts were manufactured and numbered, and teams were trained in England to put them together. It enabled putting the bridges in place within a matter of hours after arrival at a point of a previous span's destruction.

Mr. Pearson also tells of the woman constituent of Senator Nye of North Dakota, just defeated, who wanted an iron from the buyers' guide catalogue for surplus war goods. She had wired the Senator to tell the Senate Small Business Committee of her need.

Marquis Childs, in an effort to heal the divisions in the country made evident during the election campaign, waxes poetic, as passages out of Thomas Wolfe's Of Time and the River, in his recollections of his journey across the country during September and October.

He concludes with the optimism that Americans, for all their differences, could still unite in character, as proven by the great production effort embracing the entirety of the country during the war.

Dorothy Thompson similarly recounts the divisiveness of the election campaign, urging the need quickly to unify the country around the President to present a united face again to the world. The enemy looked for weak points in democracies, points of bitter divide and disagreement that they could exploit. The campaign exposed some of those weak points.

The country had passed through a baptism by fire during the war and would emerge from it inexorably changed: the New Deal of 1945 could not be the New Deal of 1933.

She advocates reconciliation both domestically and with countries abroad to work toward a common goal for the future.

A short piece from the Hajoca Commentator urges a purging of hate for Germans in favor of a healthy fear of the notion endemic to their culture that they were the chosen master race, and then working to disabuse them of the idea. It stresses that the notion of Germanic supremacy had not originated with Hitler or with Frederick, Bismarck, or the Kaiser, but was ingrained in the history and literature of Germany.

Hal Boyle, reporting from Germany on October 31, continues his story of the taking of enemy pillboxes. He relates a scenario similar to the one he had recounted the day before, this time of teams taking out 25 pillboxes in two days during a 1,000-yard advance along a 2,000-yard line.

The units would move a tank into the area facing the blind side of a pillbox while another team covered the adjoining pillboxes to prevent flanking fire, as the pillboxes were designed to permit overlapping fields of fire. Usually, by the time the armor-piercing tank shells pierced the doors, the Germans were ready to surrender. If not, infantry moved in and tossed grenades into the pillbox. That would usually bring the enemy scurrying forth as the smell of the gases were intolerable in confined spaces, even if the explosion itself had not injured them.

After the box was cleared, the first team would "rest" by providing cover fire while the previous cover team conducted the assault.

In one instance, Sgt. Ezra Cook of Mt. Airy, N.C., entered a pillbox where the phone lines were still intact, called the next pillbox and urged surrender before the Americans began the assault. Some 25 to 30 Germans promptly gave up without a fight. They knew better than to tangle with Mayberry.

In all, only two men were killed with fewer than twenty casualties in taking the 25 pillboxes.

A piece compiled by the editors tells of the many wayward predictions in the campaigns of 1936 and 1944. In 1936, Joe Martin of Massachusetts, Republican Eastern campaign manager, future House Speaker, had predicted at least 300 electoral votes for Governor Alf Landon. He then suffered the worst electoral college defeat in the history of the country, receiving only 8 votes, from Vermont and Maine, failing to carry his home state of Kansas.

H. L. Mencken had stated that the Republicans could beat Roosevelt with a Chinaman. Perhaps, but not with Landon.

William Randolph Hearst was willing to stake his reputation as a prophet on a Landon landslide. He also said at one point: "Don't be afraid to make a mistake. Your readers might like it."

Future Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox, running on the 1936 ticket as the vice-presidential nominee, had also predicted comfortable victory, that the Landon-Knox team would carry every state east of the Mississippi and north of the Ohio. But, he was the vice-presidential nominee. One would not expect him to say that he anticipated the defeat of the ticket by a landslide.

In 1944, the rhetoric had not been dissimilar. Louis Bromfield, the author-farmer, predicted the Democrats would not elect so much as a dogcatcher.

Alf Landon had said that the Republicans would carry every state between the Alleghenies and the Rockies, except in the South.

Col. Bertie McCormick, publisher of the Chicago Tribune, proclaimed that any good Republican could beat FDR. He was probably thinking in terms of Col. Lindbergh. In any event, in 1948, Dewey won in his newspaper.

Losing Representative Ham Fish had similarly stated that Roosevelt was through, along with the New Deal, that he would lose every state above the Mason-Dixon Line.

Oil magnate Joseph Pew forecasted the greatest Republican sweep of the country ever.

Herbert Brownell, Mr. Dewey's campaign manager and future Attorney General under President Eisenhower, predicted that most Democrats would either vote Republican or stay home, foresaw, as late as November 4, a sweeping victory, expressed November 6 that no state outside the South could be conceded--until 3:15 a.m., November 8.

No one made mention of the fact, for it had ceased to be an issue after the Democratic Convention and the mollifying of the Southern wing of the Party with the elimination of Henry Wallace and the nomination of Harry Truman, but the Texas revolt, which had at one point in the spring appeared as a Hydra-headed monster set to spread to South Carolina, Georgia, Mississippi, and Alabama, possibly Arkansas, threatening to provide their electoral votes to Virginia Senator Harry Flood Byrd regardless of popular vote, never materialized. The object in a close election was to throw the matter into the House for determination, where the Southern Democrats could have effectively determined the next President.

As it turned out, even had the President lost all of the South's 124 electoral votes, he still would have won by a comfortable margin in the electoral college, as he had 166 more votes than needed for victory.

Incidentally, speaking of Mr. Hearst's quote on mistakes, we find it only fitting to provide a couple of observations on the Republican campaign of late.

First, as to the "fourth woman" who came forward this week to contend sexual harassment against Herman Cain, we have to find interesting this story, which Ms. Bialek confirms generally, while denying any hug took place, only that she touched Mr. Cain's elbow during a Tea Party event a month ago in Chicago, after Mr. Cain presumably arrived via O'Hare, and whispered something in his ear, which she refused subsequently during an interview on MSNBC this week to disclose. The interesting parts are that she did not wish to disclose what she said, that she would appear next to a man whose alleged physical advances she supposedly resisted in the "Casino" moment 12 years earlier, and that the close encounter of the third person kind occurred some three weeks before the first wind of the story came out, relating past allegations of sexual harassment at the National Restaurant Association. Call the organization, perhaps, "Nicky", for short.

Since Ms. Bialek is a Republican, staunchly so, she says, we have to wonder exactly what goes on here. Mr. Cain, while we disagree with his policy pronouncements, has, as does any American, the right to be free from published defamatory allegations and the right to be heard on them. We note that one of the accusers who previously achieved a settlement or a termination agreement, as you will, yesterday canceled a press conference until such time as the other three women might join her, understandable.

But we still have to wonder: Where's the beef? The heart of the matter is not exactly exposed and we need to whip it out and show it all rather than have the modified-limited hang-out going on again, as in earlier times, even if we deem this whole spectacular story a bit of an absurd digression at a time when the real meat of the campaign ought be a debate over how best to get the country moving again, not silly pronouncements suggesting starvation to be the sure remedy to unemployment, as Ms. Bachmann has advocated as a summary solution. For a vigorous and sensible debate during the general election campaign, regardless of who may win it, will be the most sure way to get at a general solution suitable to the great majority will of the country, it would seem. That is what a viable democracy is all about, not cramming wieners down the throat of the opposition party, or even using baseball bats on them, to see, "Survivor"-style, who withstands the gauntlet of dirty tricks. That sort of campaign has never served the country very well.

So, excuse us, but perhaps it is time for the full monty, Mr. Cain. What did Ms. Bialek say to you a month ago? That, in truth, seems the heart of the matter, sufficient to dispose of it with one fell blow and to get the Devil behind you and the rest of us, so that children won't grow up fearful of intimacy, as the hung-up Puritanical part of the country seems to be. And the press may want to press to see what in the world Ms. Bialek was doing standing next to a man she would presumably find not exactly delightful, three weeks before the past sexual harassment allegations surfaced. In other words, does she hold the key to a Republican conspiracy to derail the Cain campaign? She now, after all, says the Naperville Sun of the Sun-Times story, wants a job with WIND.

That which we cannot help but observe is that those who were most initially adamant about first derailing the candidacy in 1991 and 1992 of then Governor Clinton, then later, in 1998 and 1999, were so ready to impeach President Clinton over matters not ever alleged as amounting to sexual harassment, are now the most staunch defenders of Mr. Cain, even before any facts are revealed. Those who purchased the book of the Blonde might want to send the book back therefore and demand a refund for its obvious lack of sincerity, that being which we recall bore the title, something like High Fives and Misty Manners.

And, to Governor Perry, we feel obliged, having suffered a couple of times, actually three, from similar circumstances--three times as sophomores in high school forgetting our lines during oral presentations without notes, standing silent for a full pregnant minute or more on each such occasion, it having been 1969, one, the worst of all, being presented in Spanish on a frog, La Rana, presumably a story anent a Frenchman, to regather our thoughts meditatively, a Belafonte moment, we suppose, later coming to understand that the fear of the forgetfulness itself was the problem, plus the ample distractions on the front row, or sometimes on the back, albeit that being the year before when fortunately we had no such oral reports assigned without notes: Tio, tio, tio, tinx--to relate a mnemonic device which might act as an assist, since we used to be a guard, in his next debate: CEE.

Or, if that does not work enough, a sort of French thing might perform the trick: CEducEner. Should that still not jog the inner recesses of the cortex to fire the sparks sedulously across the synaptical gaps, try a more relaxing notion conveyed by ComEnerEduc. That ought to get down to it, and get her done.

Of course, if one leans toward the macabre, one could just use Dealey Plaza as a reference point, a sort of pentagonal device. Commerce is self-evident. Houston, the elimination of Energy. Elm, the elimination of Education. There ye go, pardner... Wink-wink.

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