The Charlotte News

Sunday, June 12, 1938


Site Ed. Note: This rare by-lined editorial of Cash appeared on the regular editorial page. The other editorials for the date are here.

And W. J. Eulenspiegel would contribute to the book-page of this date "Rum, Romanism and Rebellion; Or, Ride for a Learned Man".

A Tar Heel mystery, indeed. The Senator, who would provide a Nazi spy from the Abwehr with valuable French shipping data in 1940, would rise to become Chairman of the Senate Military Affairs Committee in spring, 1941, would start his second and last term as Senator in 1939. He chose not to run in 1944, facing likely defeat by Clyde R. Hoey of Shelby, Governor of North Carolina from 1937 until 1941; Hoey, who died in office in 1954, succeeded by Sam J. Ervin, is buried only a few feet from the grave of W. J. Cash.

In his three-volume memoir, Ambassador Josephus Daniels of North Carolina told of how he sat on pins and needles as Reynolds visited Mexico in 1940, hoping that he would not single-handedly dismantle the Good Neighbor policy with his antics. Daniels managed to funnel him into harmless activity--and, no doubt, keep him out of sombreros and long pants, away from bridges, and kissable señoritas.

For an excerpt from the 2000 biography of Robert Rice Reynolds, Buncombe Bob, go here.

Why don't we just take the Bahamas to discharge the war debts and say to hell with them all? We have our squirrel shooters, after all.

Ah, yes.

A Tar Heel Mystery


ATAR HEEL who nowadays writes editorials up in Virginia sends a request down here for an explanation of just how ever it happened that North Carolina came to nominate Bob Reynolds a second time.

I don't know. It looks against nature, obviously. North Carolina is notoriously a plain and sober state, and its statesmen have commonly resembled owls. Some of them, indeed, have had great manes and a tremendous prance, but practically all of them have been solemn and most respectable and, oh, most responsible. Whereas the Hon. Bob is a hidee-ho bozo who kisses blonde movie queens in public, endorses cigarettes for pay, runs off to Singapore when he ought to be in Washington, and, in six years in the Senate, never read a single bill.

Still, there the fact is--as I say, a mystery I can't pretend certainly to solve. I know some things, to be sure. There was a fellow I remember in a midnight eating place up in Shelby. His eyes were shining and his hands fumbled as he set down our beer.

"Did you see him?" he breathed reverently on the back of my neck.

"See who?"

"Him. Senator Reynolds. He just went out. 'Sure,' he said to me, 'Sure, I remember you. That's right. You're Jim Smith. That's right, I met you at that barbecue. How's tricks? How's the old man? Have a bottle of beer on me, aw, come on, don't be so stuck up!' He squez my hand so it still hurts. Ain't he a fine fellow?"

He is certainly the best glad-hander I have ever seen in the state, and he is nowhere so effective as among the common people. Moreover he succeeds not only in convincing the common people that he is an amiable democrat, just another one of themselves, but also that he is their great particular champion as against the wealthy and the polite and the conservative. There is little in the record to really bear out any such notion. That record shows plainly enough, indeed, that he is the great champion of nobody but Robert Rice Reynolds. But the common people do not, of course, look very closely into his record, and he did vote for most of the New Deal measures. What perhaps enters into the matter, too, is that he is set off against Senator Bailey--who is pretty much suspect in labor circles in the state.


Other things which must not be overlooked is that he whooped incessantly for the soldier's bonus, and that he has been making himself solid with most veterans in the state, and that he has been a very successful finder of Federal jobs for deserving supporters. Furthermore, he has managed very adroitly to keep the vast crowds of those supporters for whom jobs just couldn't be found--the supporters who would have by this time turned sour on most men-- perpetually hopeful and confident that in due time their turn at the trough will arrive.

Again, he had no very strong opposition in the late campaign. Frank Hancock seems to be a good enough fellow and a man of some capacity. But he is obviously no heavyweight. He was not widely known in the state, and he is not greatly adept at gladhanding. And--he was a New Dealer. That netted him little with the masses of people. For he had stepped out of line a little oftener than Reynolds. Not much oftener, but often enough still to make him less acceptable to people who swallowed the New Deal lock, stock, and barrel. And his connections in the state were such as to get him suspected in the popular mind of being in reality hand in glove with the anti-New Dealers. On the other hand, the only people who might have put on a rousing campaign in his behalf were just--the anti-New Dealers themselves. And he was entirely too much of a New Dealer for them to develop any enthusiasm for him. Thus, ironically caught between two schools, he never had any chance to win.


That's about all I know with any certainty. I have my surmises, to be sure. Gerald Johnson came down from Baltimore not long ago and wrote a piece in which he suggested that the apathy of the campaign was due to the fact that the people of the state, and the people of the nation, for that matter, were probably fed up on circuses by this time, and wanted nothing so much as wearily to be let alone. Perhaps the same sort of psychology goes far to explain Reynolds' victory. After all, if he is a funambulist, he is a relatively mild funambulist. He performs on no such dizzy ropes as Huey Long used to employ. And he never spins on his head. He merely smiles and smiles and goes through his little dance which is entirely safe. In short, maybe, North Carolina has got so used to the dizzy spectacle in Washington that even it begins to think of Robert Rice Reynolds as a mild and sober person.

Or perhaps it is something else again. Maybe North Carolinians--or great hosts of them--are themselves slowly waxing less staid and solemn than they used to be. Seeing that the staid and solemn and responsible statesmen have fetched us into such a mess as other staid and solemn and responsible statesmen have so far proved themselves quite unable to extricate us from, perhaps they begin to question all the old standards which indicated a staid and solemn and responsible statesman as the only possible choice--and to think that a playboy is probably just as good and maybe better.

But these are only surmises. I don't know.

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