Harry S. Truman Presidential Library & Museum

Oral History Interview with
James H. Rowe

Technical advisor, to International Military Tribunal, Nuremberg, 1945-46; consultant, on aviation, etc., to the Bureau of the Budget, 1947; member, Commission on Organization of the Executive Branch of the Federal Government, 1948-49; member, 1948 Foreign Service Selection Board, State Department; member, special commission, U.S. "spy" inquiry, State Department, 1948; chairman, commission to reorganize government of Puerto Rico, 1949; chairman, committee on personnel to Secretary of State, 1950.

Washington, D.C.
September 30, 1969 and January 15, 1970
by Jerry N. Hess

Interview Transcript . . . . . . . . . . . . . Pages 1-98
Appendix A . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . .99-126
Appendix B. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . .127-161

[Notices and Restrictions | Interview Transcript | List of Subjects Discussed]




--"Cooperation"--or Conflict?--

The Presidents relationships with an opposition Congress



"There are some who would be inclined to regard the servile pliancy of the Executive to a prevailing current, either in the community or in the legislature, as its best recommendation ... But however inclined we might be to insist upon an unbounded complaisance in the Executive to the inclination of the people, we can with no propriety contend for a like complaisance to the humors of the legislature .... The representatives of the people, in a popular assembly, seem sometimes to fancy that they are the people themselves, and betray strong symptoms of impatience and disgust at the least sign of opposition from any other quarter; as if the exercise of its rights by either the executive or the judiciary, were a breach of privilege and an outrage to their dignity. They often appear disposed to exert an imperious control over the other departments; and as they commonly have the people on their side, they always act with such momentum as to make it very difficult for the other members of the Government to maintain the balance of the Constitution."

The Federalist, #70

This is a study of the relationship of the American President to the Congress when the opposition party holds control of both Houses.

Since the November election, numerous statements in the press by the leaders of both parties and by private citizens, and much editorial comment indicate an expectation that the President and the Congress must "cooperate" if government-by-stalemate is to be avoided. None of this comment attempts to define that is meant by "cooperation". It is generally expected, it seems, that some kind of bipartisan mechanism should be created and that through such machinery, and a willingness to compromise opposing points of view, the nation will be governed satisfactorily by the Executive and Legislative Branches together.

The purpose of this memorandum is to examine whether such “cooperation" is feasible. And if "cooperation", as the term is used here in


the sense that it means some sort of machinery, is found to be impracticable, what course of acts on should the President pursue in his relationships with the new Congress?

The recommendations are based upon a study of similar situations in the past; on some reading in the political scientists; by discussions with disinterested students of the Federal Government such as Emmerich Merriam and Brownlow, and by a few conversations with observers of the Congress of 1931-33. Indirect (and discreet) conversations with some of President Hoover’s advisers during that period also took place. Also considered were the privately expressed views of the practical politicians.

It should be said in the beginning that the striking phenonomen is the unanimity among all these divergent groups that formal "cooperation" between the Democratic President and the Republican Congress is unworkable.

Arrayed against this unanimity, however., is the public feeling that "politics" cannot be allowed to interfere with action on the national and international problems facing the United States.. This attitude is continually reflected in the press. A recent news story, for instance, says a group of prominent citizens have formed a committee which will insist that a "mechanism must be set up which will encourage teamwork" between the Executive and Legislative Branches. And the Washington Post has several times said editorially that there had been too much talk about cooperation and the time has come to implement such talk with machinery.

The situation President Truman will face is not new -- it is not even unusual. The majority of American Presidents have been confronted sometime during their terms with control of either or both Houses vested in the opposition. Nineteen of them have had this experience. Twenty-seven times (counting such "repeaters" as Tyler, Johnson, Hayes, Cleveland and Wilson separately each time they faced a hostile Senate and House) have the Presidents been forced to govern with a minority of their own party in one or both Houses. Ten Presidents, including President Truman (but excluding Hoover, although for all practical purposes his Senate was hostile because the insurgent western Republicans coalesced with the Democrats), had both Houses against them.

(Appendix a lists the Presidents and the size of the majorities against them.) '

To generalize about the Presidents briefly (and unsafely) - Various Presidents attempted various techniques of "doing business" with opposition Congresses. The same President was often inconsistent in the


techniques he adopted toward the Congress, and usually he paid dearly for his changes in attitude. Hoover, for instance, was conciliatory in the beginning and most of the time thereafter, but too often he spoke out angrily on specific issues against the proud Congress. When they relied solely on their constitutional prerogatives, such as the veto power, and selected those issues which public opinion backed, they seem to have been fairly successful in sustaining their points of view. But when they sent their personal "lobbyists" from the Executive Branch to the Hill or appeared personally to urge specific legislation or used the telephone for votes or employed the press conference technique to excoriate the Congress, they failed more often than not.

The administration of President Johnson seems less relevant to the present situation than later administrations since he was a Democrat selected as running mate by Lincoln for wartime unity and the internal bitterness of the war's aftermath makes him sui generis.

Taft and Cleveland could be regarded as having the pleasant experience of more success with an opposition Congress than when they dealt with a Congress controlled by their own party. Rarely did these two lose their tempers despite the provocation. When they did, they, and not the Congress suffered. President Hayes carried on a long fight with an opposition Congress on questions of his constitutional prerogatives, using the veto message unsparingly, but only where public opinion was with him. He was so successful in his technique that his own party took over control of both Houses, as well as the Presidency, at the next election. He himself failed of renomination only because of a patronage struggle with the Senate leaders of his own party, an issue completely irrelevant to the main theme of opposition control.

But generalizations are unsafe here as always. History is not necessarily too relevant for us. The specific issues of the day; such as Hoover's deepening depression or Cleveland's fights with the western silver Senators and eastern tariff advocates, were undoubtedly more determinative than any technique", however highly developed.

(The experiences of past Presidents in specific situations are cited in the following discussion.)

II. Premises and assumptions about the Presidency and the Congress

"The President is expected by the nation to be the leader of his party as well as the chief executive officer of the Government and the country will take no excuses from him. He


must play the part and play it successfully or lose the country's confidence. He must be Prime Minister, as much concerned with the guidance of legislation as with just and orderly execution of law; and he is the spokesman of the nation in everything, even the most momentous and most delicate dealings of the Government in foreign affairs."

Woodrow Wilson

Before discussing the kinds of mechanism suggested to bring about “cooperation", and the dangers inherent in their use, it is useful to restate the premises upon which American constitutional government is based. It is equally desirable to make assumptions on how the new Congress will act add why.

There are three independent branches of the Government, the checks and balances setup by the Constitution do exist, and the President of the United States does have specific functions to perform such as the directive to him by the Constitution to execute the laws of the nation. They are restated here because much of the discussion about "cooperation" blithely ignores the historical necessity of these axioms; and also because the borderlines between the branches of Government tend to blur in times of flux. This is true at the beginning of an administration when a new President, with his own party in control of both Houses, so governs that his actions often give rise to the traditional charges of executive domination of the Congress. It is equally true when an administration in office for many years eventually loses control of the Legislative Branch and the predilection for "congressional government" comes to the fore. Historically, this pendulum has always swung and these periods of transition have been noteworthy for the bitterness they engendered. But the fact remains that the independence of the three branches continues as the political constant and the inevitable adjustment can always be counted on to be in favor of that independence.

1. The President. Examination as to the nature of presidential functioning as it has evolved over the years, particularly since the Civil War, is profitable. The President of the United States is the leader of all the people and the sole spokesman for all of the people. He is also the leader of his party -- a fact almost as important because of our two-party system, even though the two roles are often contradictory. He must perform the function of prime minister as well as the head of state and, on important issues, that of foreign minister as well. Because of these many portfolios he is exposed to a multiplicity of issues which too often reach him in the form of piecemeal presentation, and on which,


if he is wise, he will not dare commit himself until adequate study has been made of them for him and until public opinion has been so developed that he is fairly sure his people will follow him.

For presidential leadership, if it means anything, means no more than how to lead the people only as fast as they will follow. The history of every administration shows that in the final analysis a President has but one weapon -- public opinion. He may be adept, as was Franklin Roosevelt, in accurately measuring that public opinion, and in creating and manipulating it. Or he may be as inept as Hoover, who never did grasp this principle that no President can force his will upon the nation either by a executive action or legislative recommendation until informed public opinion is ready to break him.

Because he operates to control public opinion -- and also simply because he is the President, our symbol of the state -- there is a spotlight on his every action. This merciless glare while personally annoying is politically invaluable. His slightest comment on national matters affects and molds that opinion upon which he must rely if he is to function at all.

And because of this spotlight practically everything he says becomes a "matter of record". When he makes a statement he in effect makes a commitment. If he is not extremely careful he thus creates for himself a potential source of public embarrassment, if later events or a more careful study of the facts require him to reverse himself.

Insofar as it is pertinent to this study, the essential fact about presidential functioning is that its extremely public natures leaves no room whatever for the private give-and-take, the secrecy and anonymity of compromise, which is the essence of negotiation -- whether it be "bipartisan cooperation" or any other form of negotiation. The Presidency is rigid -- when its incumbent speaks the world soon knows exactly what he has said.

2. The Congress. When compared with these qualities of the Presidency, the Legislative branch is antithetical in almost every respect.

The function of the Congress is not to govern, to execute. Its major functions are few. It legislates, it appropriates, it investigates and it approves treaties. Under the Constitution it does nothing else of importance.

It is not even an entity. There is no such thing as "the Congress". There are only 531 Congressmen who form among themselves temporary and


shifting coalitions on specific issues. These groups function sectionally. FEPC allies the East and West against the South but labor reform allies the Middle West and South against the North and Far West, just as agriculture coalesces West and South against the East.

Also inherent in the nature of this Congressional functioning is the irresistible fact (when suggesting the substitution of bipartisan "cooperation" for constitutional government) that "you can't do business with Congress", or the Republican majority thereof. It has no parliamentary discipline. Senator Vandenberg, for instance, is recognized as the spokesman of his party on foreign affairs. He vigorously believes it most undesirable to investigate the American occupation of Germany. But he is unable, and admits it, to prevent Senator Brewster from investigating Germany whatever harm is done to foreign relations. In 1932 President Hoover and Speaker Garner publicly made several agreements on a legislative program for a desperate country and jointly announced this program from the White House. Once having committed himself publicly, Hoover was "on the record", had to live up to his commitments and did so. But Garner was unable "to deliver". He failed utterly to get the Democratic House or even the relevant house Committee to live up to the Democratic part of the agreement: The simple reality was that his fellow Democratic Congressmen had made no such commitments (or if they had, it was not a "matter of record") and Garner had no way of forcing them to live up to his. The program was wrecked -- and deliberately so.

History says this has always been the case for a very simple reason -- Congressmen are not representatives of all the people; they represent only their own districts or sections and the particular pressure groups within those sections which are vital to them. No Congressional leader can commit his party because no commitments are binding upon the Members except those they may personally make to their own sections.

3. The attitude of the new Congress toward the President. Since the election the opposition leaders who will control both houses have made numerous statements about their attitude toward the administration. They have agreed generally that "cooperation” is necessary. But they have made it equally plain that their definition of cooperation is abdication by the executive. An analysis of the various proposals they have made reveals they will "cooperate - if"; if as a condition precedent the President and the Executive Branch will agree in effect to become the agent, and no more than that, of the Congress.

And this attitude is what should be expected. Because of the nature of American constitutional government and of the two-party system, it is inevitable that cooperation at a partnership level will prove unworkable.


In the first place the opposition definitely do not wish to carry out a legislative program of the President. They believe their party has been given "the mandate; that it is up to them, and not the executive, to set the policy. The opposition believe also that they can elect their own President two years from now. But the best way to do it is by shoring the people every day and every way the presumed incompetence of the present administration. In such an atmosphere -- two-party atmosphere, as well as the independence of the legislature atmosphere -- formal cooperation is impossible.

If political history and contemporary statements of the Republicans are accurate weathervanes, the opposition will begin in January to prepare for the campaign of 1948, and to institute congressional government (or end executive domination, depending on ones point of view). They will move along the traditional channels of legislative obstruction until finally they arouse and encounter the equally traditional opposition of the President. They intend to effectuate their control over all government primarily by the "power of the purse” and by rejecting the President’s legislative recommendations. And they will attempt inroads upon the executive power in a number of other ways which they have already indicated through the press. They will demand Congressional review of executive agency regulations. They will demand Congressional representation on executive boards dealing with foreign policy. They will try to reduce the Presidents appointing power to the negative status in practice of a veto power. They will not, for example, confirm judicial appointments if those appointments are not what they deem the “middle-of-the-road”. They intend to investigate countless departments and agencies and war programs. They will request presidential files and require testimony from White House aides as well as departmental representatives.

None of these intentions should be surprising to anyone. For precisely identical experiences have been the lot of every President faced with an opposition Congress. This is the working of the two-party system when control comes into opposition hands; at least it has always worked so before.

But it is also the lesson of history that this infiltration of the executive by the legislative inevitably produces a vigorous reaction by the minority President. He has in the past been forced to react to protect his office or to abdicate. And none of them has refused the gambit. They are, however, able to counteract this Congressional encroachment in one way only. Unlike majority Presidents who are able to "do business" with their own party through judicious use of patronage, the minority Presidents


are forced to fall back to their chief weapon -- the marshalling of public opinion -- which they do through the veto message and the press conference.

But such a situation causes conflict. As the conflict deepens personal bitterness and party suspicion increase on both sides. And these are stated publicly. The President to make the issues clear must explain to the people what the Congress is up to. In trying to avoid this lash of public opinion, the opposition resort to the Senate and House floors to attack the President.

In such an atmosphere as this -- the “two-party” atmosphere again -- talk about “cooperation”, soon disappears. As in all political fights -- the democratic way of solving public problems -- bipartisan cooperation is replaced by political conflict until the issue is settled.

On this issue of the independence of the executive minority Presidents have almost always been successful if they have alerted the public to the danger sharply enough.

When Congress, by putting a prohibition "rider"on appropriation bills, attempted to dictate to President Hayes on how he used the Army, Hayes used his veto eight successive times; he pointed out that such “riders” would surrender to a bare majority of the House the executive power to execute the laws. He vetoed again and again until Congress "gave up the ghost”. Through strong messages, he made it clear to the public that the issue was solely the independence of the executive and the people backed him up.

The Senate tried to interfere with President Cleveland’s authority to remove officials and to appoint others in their place by requesting the submission of certain papers by cabinet officers directly to the Congress. Cleveland refused to allow it, sending a vigorous message concerning his power to remove and eventually forced the Republican Senate to repeal the legislation he had found obnoxious to his presidential prerogatives. Then the Senate attempted to recognize the independence of the Cuban Republic, he released a strong statement to the press pointing out to the people that such power rested exclusively with the executive; again public opinion sided with him. And when the Senate later demanded the confidential correspondence of the State Department with Spain on the subject of Cuba, Cleveland once more refused to yield the correspondence to it. Some political writers have described this successful assertion of his independence of Congress as Cleveland's major contribution to the Presidency.


President Wilson vetoed an appropriation bill which provided that no department could issue a publication until the authorization of the Joint Congressional Committee on Printing had been secured. Wilson said this was an attempt to restrict the departments “in the execution of purely administrative functions". He also vetoed a budget bill because it provided that the Comptroller General, a presidential appointment, could be removed by concurrent resolution of Congress.

When faced with what some writers have called the "Congressional obstruction crisis", President Hoover vetoed an appropriation rider which required congressional review of departmental action on the ground it eras a legislative infringement of an executive function.

In all these cases the minority Presidents were able to sustain their vetoes because public opinion was altered to the issue of executive independence. Nonetheless, a study of these controversies has shown that they were carried on in a spirit of mutual bitterness and suspicion, and with continual jockeying for political advantage. The distrust of each side for the other makes it only too clear that conflict and not cooperation is the tradition when the Executive and Legislative Branches are in the hands of opposition parties.

III. The dangers of cooperative machinery

There are three types of mechanism usually suggested to achieve bipartisan cooperation between the executive and the new Congress. They are:

1. Presidential liaison with Congress. The form most commonly proposed is to continue the regular weekly conferences of the President with the legislative leaders but to substitute the Republican Senate and House leaders for the Democrats.

2. Joint presidential-congressional council composed of the President, and staff, and legislative leaders of both parties, and staff. The council would discuss and agree on all major policies.

3. Joint executive agency-congressional conferences, at a level below the presidential level.

All three of these are subject to the same criticism. The third has an even more vital flaw, if possible, because such councils not only would be an interference with the executive, but would in practice take all policy control out of the Presidents hands.


The essential danger in all three (or in the creation of bipartisan machinery of any kind) is that by accepting them the President yields his one source of strength -- the backing of public opinion for his point of view. He brings that opinion to his view only by means of public statements. But reaching agreement with the four Senate Republican leaders, for instance, first means sitting around the conference table with them and indulging in bargaining and negotiation with them. The agreements would be made public as a combined product and the people would not know which were the contributions -- or the concessions -- of the Democratic President and which the part of the Republican representatives.

Once having acceded to this proposition of joint responsibility the President is then unable to resort to his public forum without the accusation that he violated his pledge to cooperate. He has surrendered his leadership of all the people and has perverted the principle of executive leadership to congressional procedures.

Having once done so and should he later find it impossible for him to continue, he would find it embarrassing (if not impossible) to wriggle out of his acceptance of the use of such machinery.

But more important than these objections to such mechanisms is the simple fact that they just won’t work under the American two-party system. For “cooperation" is a one-way street. The President can discipline the Executive Branch sufficiently by exercising his right to hire and fire; he can force it to cooperate. The Republican leaders may agree to have co-equal responsibility for executing the agreements reached on policy but they do not have co-equal power "to deliver".

There are few precedents in our political history to rely on in examining formal bipartisan machinery. It is not clear whether this is because most minority Presidents have been alert to the objections in principle, or have been aware of the pragmatic and political fact that it won't work, or whether our Government until recently was thought sufficiently simple not to require such a formal liaison between the Legislative and Executive Branches.

Whatever the reason, only President Hoover -- and not his Congressional opponents -- tried to experiment with such a mechanism. His experience was disastrous. Already mentioned is his attempt to share joint responsibility with Speaker Garner and its complete failure. At one time during his tenure he recommended a board be formed to coordinate the work in House and Senate with that of the administration for a national program of economy. The


Democratic House refused on the ground the President was trying to take the credit for improving conditions; the only result of his proposal was to increase the rivalry between the Executive and Legislative Branches.

He did rely on frequent conferences at which legislators of both parties met with administration officials on depression problems. Despite the desperate economic situation friction developed in and because of these conferences. He was accused on the House floor of using them as a technique to facilitate the work of administration lobbyists. He was accused further of thus trying to present the Congress in an unfavorable light before the country. The explanation commonly given by the political scientists of the failure of these conferences is that although both sides insisted on their political neutrality in face of the economic crisis, yet each was always conscious of the approaching election and suspicious that the other side was trying to claim credit for what might be accomplished. The idea of a joint leadership and a bipartisan program of reconstruction was defeated at the start. The opposition felt that the danger was ever present that Hoover’s supporters and leaders would make political capital out of a Presidential victory and Democratic speakers in Congress openly stated on the floor that the President was opening his campaign for reelection. At one time Speaker Garner, in a speech on the floor said:

"We, too, have our ideas as to how to effect improvements and economies in the national administration. If the President is sincerely desirous of such improvement, there is no reason why we should not act together. If he did that, he would cooperate; what he seeks instead is to dictate, and nobody can dictate to the Democratic group in Congress."

This was said in 1932. There was, of course, nothing remotely resembling cooperation airing that Congress. Fourteen years later, on December 1, 1946, Congressman Carroll Reece said:

"The welfare of the nation demands the closest kind of cooperation between the executive branch and the Republican Congress which will assemble in January.

“We have had assurances of such cooperation from the President and our party leaders… It remains to be seen, however whether the Administration will seek by recourse of the Presidential veto power, or otherwise, to prevent us from keeping our promises.


"Should such attempts be made, I am confident the Republican, members and patriotic Democratic members of Congress will take every step within their power to carry out their pledges to the public, regardless of the attitude of the Executive.” (Underscoring supplied.)

The criticisms enumerated above of cooperative machinery would be valid even if the atmosphere were one of genuine harmony on both sides and the participants were all men of good will. But once conflict in other matters, such as interference with the executive departments, were to develop, the bitterness and political maneuvering would quickly extend even into the joint councils or conferences themselves. And here it should be noted briefly that there is no more effective political platform in the world than the White House. If the opposition leaders leaving such conferences were not aware of the effectiveness, in terms of circulation, of statements made by practically anyone on the white House steps the alert press would soon educate them to the unparalleled efficacy of this device.


If these premises and assumptions about the Presidency and the Congress are correct the conclusion is self-evident: -- the nature of American constitutional government and the two-party system makes it inevitable that any attempt to implement "cooperation" by creating formal or informal bipartisan machinery is bound to result in failure. The probability of conflict, not cooperation, is the political reality with which the President must work for the next two years.

What should the President do?

He should first of all accept the inevitability that formal cooperation is unworkable. Despite his sincere desire to cooperate, he should accept the verdict of the politicians, of history, and of the disinterested students of government.

Once he has done so, it would only be imprudent to try to "blueprint the future". His day-to-day decisions and the handling of specific problems will decide the issues insofar as he can control them.

But it is possible to lay down general principles of conduct for a Chief Executive faced with an opposition Congress and, once these are accepted, for him to improvise solutions to the specific problems within the terms of reference of those general principles.


The following recommendations are in the nature of guideposts, and nothing more. They have been suggested by a variety of experts. Some will have to be violated from time to time; some have in fact already been violated, undoubtedly because of specific and imperative urgencies which although compelling in themselves would be dangerous to follow as precedents for general principles of conduct.

IV. The future exercise of Presidential responsibilities in relation to Congress

1. Legislative recommendations. The President has the duty to recommend those legislative measures he deems necessary and expedient. But this constitutional imperative does not require him to make specific legislative proposals, either in the form of drafted bills or carefully outlined programs, as has been traditional during the past administration when his own party controlled both Houses.

Nor is it any longer desirable to make such specific recommendations; they will simply be defeated. The experience of minority Presidents has been that Congress just will not accept them. The opposition invariably and deliberately modifies the fundamentals to make sure there is no opportunity for minority Presidents to claim the credit.

This is one reality every minority President must accept.

His legislative recommendations must be as broad-gauged as possible, they should he conciliatory in tone and go no farther than to indicate the problem in a factual manner and suggest, if at all, the proposed solutions in as general language as possible.

These recommendations should be few. They should be confined only to major issues and should be carefully selected solely on the basis of the quantity of public support.

There are, of course, certain fields where the President will find it necessary "to make a record". He may judge that the country needs and wants certain legislation. But he may guess also that the opposition will not accept such recommendations. The Gallup Poll for November, 1945 showed a large majority of the voters favoring his legislative program; yet little of it succeeded in passage.

In such cases -- which should be very few as distinguished from the many-pointed program submitted to the last Congress -- it may be advisable to send up a message, either because the weight of public opinion may force the Congress to accept it, or because making the record is in itself of sufficient importance.


A more desirable parallel for this situation than that of past minority Presidents is New York State in the Twenties. Governor Smith and Governor Roosevelt each faced Republican legislatures. But by the skillful use of messages, press conferences and speeches, both Governors succeeded in forcing through the hostile legislatures a creditably large part of their legislative programs. On the part rejected they had personally made an excellent record, which proved useful in their reelection campaigns.

(Of some historical interest here was the remark once made by. President Roosevelt when asked how he would handle a Republican House. His answer was -- : "Before I acted, I would write Joe Martin a letter telling him what I was going to do and ask him what he thought about it. When he replied, I would have his letter on the record. If he tried to "weasel" I could point that out later. If he disagreed, the issue would be made. If he agreed, the opposition would at worst be split. If he said he would give his answer in the proper constitutional way when the legislation reached the House, in the future I could remind him when the House tried to interfere with the executive that that was my business just as he had told me the House was his business.")

2. The veto power. This is the weapon of the minority administration. It is almost the only weapon, and history indicates it has been a very useful one when properly used. Presidents, when their party controls both Houses occasionally resort to the veto, but as soon as one or both houses go over to the opposition, its use increases tremendously. Of Taft's 30 vetoes, 22 were used in the last two years when the House was Democratic. With his first three Congresses, Wilson used the veto 13 times, but with the fourth Congress under Republican control, he used it 20 times.

Statistics show also that even when both Houses are dominated by the opposition, a Presidential veto is rarely overridden. Taft, for instance, had only one out of 30 overridden in his entire term and Wilson only five of the 20 vetoes of the last two years. Hoover had only three overridden. Most vetoes have been sustained by the force of public opinion acting on the Congress.

The veto must, of course, be used strategically but, analyzed, this means only that it should be confined to those issues on which there is public interest and on which public opinion has clearly solidified. President Cleveland was invariably successful in using the veto to support the independence of the executive; the people agreed with his view. But when he used it on a tariff bill where sectional interest split the voters he was defeated.


Strategic use of the veto includes within its definition the threat of veto, Hoover, often criticized as politically inept, was here strikingly adept in getting word to the Hill that he was threatening to veto. Often the Congress compromised because of this, accepting his views rather than attempt to override them.

The voting complexion of the new Congress makes the probability of a veto being overridden doubtful -- if the issue can be manipulated into one with sufficient public interest such as the independence of the executive. A small percentage of overridden vetoes is not undesirable; it indicates as nothing else could that the President is pressing as far as the country will go.

3. Investigations. When in 1919 the Republicans took over the Congress and the war was ended nearly 200 resolutions to investigate executive agencies were introduced. Fifty-five of them passed. The new Republican slogan of “A prayer and a probe" makes it clear that history is about to repeat itself.

What attitude the President should adopt is here rather difficult to suggest. It is an imperative on the one hand that the White House itself should keep its skirts clean not only in the sense that it must adopt a public “hands off" attitude but it must, convince the country it actually is far above the fray. The large wartime expenditures and haste make it inevitable that political "pay dirt" will be struck somewhere in some agency or program -- perhaps often. Investigations cannot be prevented; it is therefore only good sense to stand apart from and above them -- if the trick can be done. One way of doing it would be to instruct publicly the departments to render every assistance to the investigating committees, they have to anyway. On the other hand, while some of the investigations will be nonpartisan and desirable, it is equally true that many others will be pressed with partisan "malice aforethought". If the administration leaders stand idly by, the effect on morale of the nation and the Government can be disastrous.

There is no rule-of-thumb here; and it can perhaps be best handled on a day-to-day basis. One possible approach is to follow the strategy of "getting there first" -- particularly in the worst cases. One investigation most commonly bruited, for example, is of the Maritime Commission. It should be considered whether the Executive Branch ought not investigate the Commission on its own. If this were done now, recommendations for improvement, reorganization changes in personnel, and so forth could go in the President's hands before the Congressional investigation gets very far under way. He could make his changes public at the psychological moment including legislative recommendations to the investigating Congress.


This technique of advance executive action might be applied to a. number of investigations if the Executive Branch is thoroughly informed by its own political, intelligence system well in advance of the probable Congressional moves.

4. Nominations. The appointment power too is a weapon. But it is two-edged -- depending not only on quality but on political manipulation as well. It can belong to the administration or to the Congress. Its value lies, of course, in the effect on opinion. Appointments deal with people and it is a worn but true axiom that personalities are easily dramatized in the political arena when programs and statistics cannot be. For that reason alone appointments such as those to the Atomic Commission or of Secretaries Harriman and Kruc, not only are unassailable but put money in the political bank as well. The reverse is just as true.

For discussion, appointments can arbitrarily be assigned in four classifications (the groupings sometimes merge, such as Federal district judges). They are:

(a) Local appointments.
(b) Judicial appointments. .
(c) National appointments.
(d) Independent agency appointments.

(a) Local appointments. The bulk of Federal appointments, such as postmasters, United States attorneys, marshals, collectors of internal revenue, and so forth, are within cities, districts or states. They are really senatorial appointments -- and the President actually has only a veto power over them. For all practical purposes this veto is exercised by the interested departments (who investigate and then submit the names to the White House) only in cases of sheer incompetence. At least during the first term of the new Congress there should be little change in getting this kind of nomination confirmed. The traditional courtesies should continue in those states with Democratic senators. In those states where there will be two Republican senators the regular Democratic state organization can probably still select the incumbents without too much trouble.

These appointments are traditionally the life blood of the political organization. No change should be made in their handling. Any attempt by .the executive to treat them as bipartisan, to consult the opposition, would only antagonize the administration senators. These senators are more important than ever before. They must sustain presidential vetoes, make the administration record on the floor, and press through that part, of the Presidents program which can be put through.


The departments concerned, however, should be directed to intensify their investigative processes looking into the competence of nominees for these state appointments. More attention should be paid to their objections than has been the tradition. The one danger of local appointments becoming political liabilities is the certainty that the Republican majority handling the nomination will lose no chance to make capital out of any and all mistakes.

(b) Judicial appointments. The only judicial vacancies will be created by death. No Republican incumbent who has held on this long will retire now. The Republican organization is too hopeful of acquiring the appointing power for itself in 1948. And the same motivation actuates Democratic incumbents; this is a usual phenomenon two years before a Presidential election.

Federal district court appointments have the nature of other local appointments as well as of court appointments. Pragmatically they "belong" to the Senators. But examination of the nominees background and qualifications should be intensified. As in the case of all judicial appointments they are in normal times invariably subject to much more severe scrutiny; they are lifetime positions and they also control the “judicial patronage" of receiverships and bankruptcies. Now that the Republicans have a majority they will be much more on the alert.

Circuit court appointments are in a somewhat different category. There is a new senatorial tendency, particularly in the South and West, to reduce these to the status of local appointments. This is done by the creation of a synthetic "tradition" that each state should have its representative on the circuit. Where this custom has already taken root a circuit court appointment may possibly be treated by the new Senate much the same as any local appointment. But where it is not yet a fixed custom (and it is not so fixed in the North, East and Middle West), nominations will probably receive the sane treatment as national appointments; scrutiny of the nominees’ records will be more intensified than those of other national nominees because they fill lifetime positions.

(c) National appointments. These are the bulk of the Washington appointments. Cabinet nominees should enjoy their traditional exemption from criticism unless the individual is peculiarly vulnerable.

The "little cabinet" and bureau nominations will receive more careful examination by the committees concerned. It is at this level that the administration may meet an opposition suggestion of “cooperation”, which, translated, means the appointment of Republicans or conservative Democrats


to the vacancies. The new Under Secretary of Commerce is Republican. Suggestions have been heard that some of the Army and Navy appointments should be Republican to maintain "wartime unity".

It is questionable whether this is a wise procedure. It is, in a way, an attempt through personnel appointments to create a coalition government. But our constitutional system makes coalition impossible since the essential -- joint responsibility -- cannot be achieved. And it is possible the matter is academic; that the opposition for perfectly selfish reasons is chary even of giving an appearance of joint responsibility. Politically it damages their own self-interest. Should the President reject this form of cooperation, his alternative is not so clear. The usual suggestion is to substitute "nonpartisan" (whatever that may mean) for "bipartisan". It is axiomatic that he must watch his appointment list; in the new political climate they must be like Caesar's wife. They must also be competent; if they are not obviously so, their names are sure of attack.

But the objections to making too many nonpartisan appointments are the same at the national level as at the local level. Although not as important to the party organization, they are helpful in solving the geographic problem of public pride and prestige. The President cannot continually afford to antagonize his own leaders who are not as aware of as he, or not as interested in, the difficulties of getting along with the opposition. This is the lesson President Hayes forgot to learn.

(d) Independent agency appointments. The opposition has announced its expectation it will now have more than a veto power on quasi-judicial appointments. This is in one sense merely the extension of the old quarrel whether such agencies are creatures of the executive or of the Congress.

Giving the Republicans their claim to the majority presents another difficulty besides the antagonism of the President's own organization.

It may be the independent agency problem can be met by promoting from within the agencies career-men who are technically Republican in philosophy and. voting record. This might satisfy both groups. The independent agency arose as the effect of deep-seated economic clashes which were eventually settled politically. The emotions and. passions which led to the creation of, for instance, the SEC or Power Commission are not stilled, but dormant. To oversimplify, these agencies personify "the people vs. the vested interests". The issues cut across party lines. And to give the opposition -- long suspected as the creature of the interests" -- its way would revive the passions and suspicions all over again.


In discussing the appointing power, experience of past minority administrations is once more not too helpful. In the last year of the Hoover incumbency almost no nomination could get through the Senate. If the President takes a firm line on appointments, he may well be faced with the same impasse. His choice then becomes one of the stalemate or of yielding control of personnel. In the latter case, he becomes constitutionally responsible for the actions of people over whom he has no control whatsoever. It would be preferable to refuse to appoint.

If this situation develops, the appointing power, if skillfully used, could then be almost as potent a weapon as the veto power with a careful selection of skilled personnel of its own political persuasion the administration may dramatize the obvious fact that the opposition is deliberately crippling his program for the country by refusing him able lieutenants. As this is only another variation on the theme of the independence of the executive, it is the kind of issue where public opinion can be relied on.

The President has made a. number of recess appointments, such as district judges in the District of Columbia, and several “little cabinet” appointments. If these appointments, including one for the Securities and Exchange Commission or some other independent agency, were submitted soon after the congress convenes, they will serve as a valuable laboratory experiment to determine the probable future attitude of the Congress on appointments.

The one constant in the appointing power is that partisan opposition to all appointments is sure to intensify as the fall of 1948 approaches.

5. Infiltration of the executive. The President’s real problem is whether he can prevent interferences by the Congress in the supervision of purely administrative and executive functions. This infiltration of the executive always appears when the administration loses control of the Congress. Normally this distrust frequently takes the form of demand for judicial review of all sorts of administration determinations, some of them valid, but the present tendency is bound to be a recurrence of attempted Congressional control of such determinations.

If strategically handled, however, and emphasized as an unconstitutional attack on the independence of the executive, the President can stave off such attacks, if the experiences of his predecessors are valid today,


This means the proper kind of issue must be selected for molding public opinion and editorial opinion. And also the administration must be careful that it does not agree -- as it already has agreed in one or two instances, notably the Joint Research and Development Board, through which Dr. Vannevar Bush controls the scientific research of the War and Navy Departments and. the President of the. United States has nothing to say about it -- to these infiltrations without being quite aware of what it is doing. Nor can it logically object later to certain types of infiltration where it has already committed itself by prior action.

(A simplified series of "Don'ts", which it is suggested the administration follow to avoid such infiltration, are listed in Appendix b .)

6. Control of the Executive Departments. Another problem is how the President can control the departments, agencies and bureaus and, as a correlative, how much he wants to in the given situation. Even in the best of times control of the departments by the White House is difficult. The “power of the purse” and the personal loyalties of the administrators to those legislators instrumental in securing their appointments have always pragmatically been more productive than a somewhat abstract loyalty to the leader of the administration. This may be unfortunate but it is true, and will undoubtedly be more pronounced than ever now that agency heads believe it necessary to “get along with the Republicans".

But this is not necessarily an unmixed evil. The routine of Government must go on, irrespective of battles at the top for control of policy. Those liaisons which the agencies have made with the Democrats on their Congressional committees should be replaced with new ones deliberately created with the Republicans. This is particularly true among the career services which demand continuity of performance rather than sensitivity to top policy. This is true in the Army and Navy, in the Foreign Service, in the Forest Service, the FBI, and many other agencies too numerous to mention.

But in those cases where disloyalty to the President is actually harmful to the administration, it is faced with a most difficult problem. Mostly because of the Governments size and the serious understaffing in the Executive Office of the right kind of personnel, the White House just does not know what actually goes on between the Government departments and the individual members of the Congress.


The only effective control the President can exert today is through his cabinet members or, when he cannot avoid a particularly flagrant case, the exercise of his right to hire and fire, although this latter in itself promotes harmful political controversy. Except in policy-making positions the administration should consider seriously whether it wishes to enforce a hard-and-fast rule of thumb on “loyalty”. To do so would slow the wheels of routine government and in the long run do more political harm than good.

7. Congressional intelligence. Public clamor for bipartisan cooperation does show something is desirable in the way of liaison between the Democratic President and the Republican Congress. Such liaison can exist without violating the major tenet of this memorandum that “bipartisan cooperation” is dangerous.

It is improbable that it can be carried on through the traditional Democratic Congressional leaders. These regularly scheduled meetings of the President with his Senate and House leaders should however continue. They are still his spokesmen in Congress and they are also the spokesmen from the party in Congress to him. He must be informed of the attitude of the Democratic minority and they must inform that minority of his views.

(A minor improvement, if it has not been done already, in the functioning of these regular Monday morning conferences -- at last as they were carried out under President Roosevelt -- would be the appointment of a White House staff member as “secretary” of the meetings. The serious flaw in the Roosevelt conferences was that the five men had pleasant conversations and “settled” a great number of problems. But there was no one who wrote down what they agreed to do and there was no one to "follow up” in the departments and the Congress on any agreed plans of action. This lack caused too much unnecessary bitterness and frustration and, occasionally, disagreement on exactly that had been agreed upon. To promote mutual trust in the person selected the President could ask the leaders what particular person on his staff they would like to have present as “Secretary”. But he should be a White House staff member.)

The Democratic leaders are however necessarily partisan in the proper sense. They are opposed to the Republican majority and as such could not effectively carry on an informal liaison between the President and the Republicans. Nor would any member of the White House or Executive Branch by persona grata. Mo matter how initially popular he would soon be in disfavor as a “White House lobbyist". And he would eventually


become futile and ineffective as he could not commit the President on many matters it would not be his function to pass on. but on which his help would be asked.

It is just as dangerous to do nothing -- to leave a vacuum; vacuums of this kind have a habit of being filled usually with several self-appointed incompetents who do more harm than good.

One liaison which satisfactorily meets all these objections can be found in the Congress itself.

In the House the present Speaker, Sam Rayburn of Texas, has refused to become minority leader. By his own choice, then, he has become the "elder statesman”, somewhat above and somewhat withdrawn from the battle raging below him. He has the almost unique gift of "getting along with" the so-called southern conservatives and so-called northern and western liberals in his own party; he has also the confidence of the Republicans, The President could use Rayburn as his liaison with the Republicans. Because of his own personal situation he will not be regarded as a partisan. Yet his loyalty to the administration has already been demonstrated.

Such a liaison would, of course, be completely informal. A public announcement that he would act as such would be immediately fatal. But when the President grants to communicate with the Republican leadership -- and there will be many occasions when he will wish to -- he would have an unimpeachable liaison available.

Rayburn's influence does not extend beyond the House and there is no comparable person in the Senate. A possible substitute is Leslie Biffle. Although he is active as a partisan his personal qualities, such as his known friendship for the President combined with his gift of "getting along" with the opposition senators, might make him available to serve as an informal liaison.

Other improvements in "political intelligence” should be made. The use of Rayburn and Biffle to keep the President informed of what is actually happening is desirable solely because of their own political acumen. 'They should have private regular weekly meetings with him. But once he is informed he must be able to act. That requires staffing his own office with the kind of person skilled in knowledge of both the Executive and the Legislative Branch. These persons must be activated by a loyalty single to the President and a desire for


anonymity. It appears to be just as true today as it was in the Roosevelt Administration that “the President is a powerhouse without transmission lines”. The President acts but nothing happens. There is too often a short circuit somewhere between the White House and the departments, or the departments and the Congress.

Effective transmission lines would also make more effective use of the new Democratic minority. It is clear that a Democratic Congressman can say what the President or his cabinet officers cannot say. But it is too often never said for the very simple but crucial reason that no one has suggested to anyone it ought to be said. The right comment at the right time is the most effective way of dramatizing opposition blunders. This, too, requires a liaison of some kind between the Executive Branch which invariably has the information and the minority Congressmen who are able to use it. This is an incredibly difficult, delicate and flexible assignment but that is no reason why an attempt should not be made to carry it out.

7. Gestures toward cooperation. Public demand for bipartisan cooperation will probably continue. The realpolitik of the situation requires that there be some gestures toward cooperation and, where it is workable, active and intelligent cooperation.

The administration can do much, at least in the beginning, to create the atmosphere for cooperative gestures. The President can be conciliatory in his messages to the Congress. It is not advisable, for instance, to begin making his record in his January messages against the Republicans. For example, the suggestion that he point out in his “State of the Union" message the similarities between Democratic and Republican platforms would only destroy such an atmosphere. The people as well as the politicians are cynical about platforms and properly so. They understand that they are meaningless. And the people as well as the politicians would regard the use of such a device as an attempt to put the Congress "on the spot”.

But there are a number of things the President might consider announcing -- in his State of the Union message or elsewhere -- he will do "to cooperate”. Most of them he has done already or will have to do anyway.

(A list of such "Gestures toward cooperation" are contained in Appendix c.)

James Rowe, Jr.
December, 1946


Appendix a

Presidents who had one or more Houses of Congress of an Hostile party.

House, 57-48 in favor of Rep
J.Q. Adams
Rep. – Dem.
Senate, 28-20 in favor of Jacksonians
House, 119-94 in favor of Jacksonians
Senate, 20-20, Dem and Rep.; plus two members of a minor party
Senate, 28-22 in favor of Whigs
House, 133-102 in favor of Whigs
(Tyler took over presidency from W. H. Harrison, a Whig)
Senate, 28-25 in favor of Whigs
House, 115-108 in favor of Whigs
Senate, 35-25 in favor of Dem.
House, 112-109 in favor of Dem.
Senate, 35-24 in favor of Dem.
House, 140-88 in favor of Dem.
House, 114-92 in favor of Rep.
Senate, 42-10 in favor of Rep.
House, 149-42 in favor of Rep.
(Johnson took over from Lincoln, Rep.)
Senate, 42-11 in favor of Rep.
House, 143-49 in favor of Rep.
House, 169-109 in favor of Dem.
House, 153-140 in favor of Dem.
Senate, 42-33 in favor of Dem.
House, 149-130 in favor of Dem.
Senate deadlocked at 37-37
Senate deadlocked; 38 Rep., 36 Dem. And 2 members of third parties.
House, 197-118 in favor of Dem.
Senate, 43-34 in favor of Rep.
Senate, 39-37 in favor of Rep.
B. Harrison
House, 235-88 in favor of Dem.
* Cleveland
Senate, 43-39 in favor of Rep.
House, 244-105 in favor of Rep.
House, 228-161 in favor of Dem.
House, 216-210 in favor of Rep.
Senate, 48-47 in favor of Rep.
House, 237-191 in favor of Rep.
Senate, 48-47 in favor of Rep.
(Illness and other extenuating circumstances rendered this a problem)
Senate, 48-47 in favor of Rep.
House, 220-214 in favor of Rep.
(Illness and deaths forces the Dem. to organize the House.)

This information checks with both the New York Times and the Time stories. Twenty-seven Presidents had difficulties during twenty-five administrations. Nine Presidents had two Houses hostile at the same time.

Sources: Cyclopedia of American Government; Congressional Directory; World Almanac.

* means both Houses were of the hostile party.


Appendix b


(Specific measures the President should avoid. These have been put into effect by party or Congressional leaders at one time or another. All of these should be resisted as a matter or principle, some of them by use of the veto power. As a matter of practice, it may be necessary for the President to compromise on some of them, but where he does, he should make the record clear that he does so grudgingly.)

The creation of joint or bipartisan policy committees.

The creation of an executive-legislative council on general policy.

The creation of executive-legislative committees at departmental level, as distinguished from Presidential level.

The participation by the staff of Congressional committees or individual Congressmen in preparing recommendations for executive action or legislative recommendations.

The creation by statute of coordinating machinery outside the Presidents office and above the departmental level.

The creation by statute of committees of several department heads with power to make decisions by majority vote. Congressional participation on such committees should particularly be avoided.

The increase in Congressional supervision of the Presidents managerial agencies, or the transfer of their functions to a Congressional agency (e.g., the assignment of administrative studies to the General Accounting Office).

The requirement by statute that certain types of executive action be ratified by committees of Congress, such as agency rules or regulations.

The granting of administrative powers to part-time advisory boards.

The creation of additional independent commissions as "agents of Congress"; or the admission that the existing regulatory agencies are "agents of Congress" -- which they are not.

The allocation by statute of administrative authority to the bureaus or subdivisions of departments; this gives Congressional committees the control instead of the departmental heads.


Appendix c

Gestures Toward Cooperation

The President has cooperated in the past. His own legislative experience has given him respect and confidence in the integrity of the Congress, including the present opposition leaders whom he knows well.

He will try to bring together the views of the Executive Branch on matters confronting the Congress.

He will meet with the Republican leaders as often as they wish. (This, however, should be done only on their initiative, and he should select the time and place.)

He will confer with the responsible Republican leader, such as the chairman of the relevant committee, on specific legislation whenever he or that leader thinks it will be mutually helpful and desirable.

He will direct the departments to cooperate with the Congress (they have to anyway), and will hold the resources of the Executive Branch open and available to Congressional request for facts and information.

He will direct the Civil Service Commission and the Bureau of the Budget to continue to furnish cooperation to the Congress in the future just as extensively as they have in the past, by providing information on the Executive Branch as a whole.

He will direct that the new practice of cooperation of the Treasury Department and the Bureau of the Budget with the General Accounting Office shall continue.

He will act and speak at all times in terms of public welfare and not as a partisan.

He will avoid specific legislative recommendations, although he will continue to call to the attention of the Congress certain general recommendations for legislation, since it is his constitutional duty.

(Numerous others can be listed here.)




Dear Jim, [Webb – then Budget Director]

Here is the memo; the alert and astute Brother Neustadt has galloped off with the original to Clifford.

I apologise for the length, nut that apologies do much good.

The memo is based on a great number of obvious things, as a reading will show. What it does ot show is that result of a large number of conversations were carried on by Rowe in a presumably idle fashion and were all in a social setting, and “accidebtally” pushed into political channels. No one knows that I am writing anything for anyone on politics. But it was necessary to test ideas and get other ones.

There is nothing new; it is old-hat. I think it is objective -- I have tried to be so.

I do not know whether Mr. Truman would be elected if everything done in this memo were done to perfection. But I do know that if no attempt is made to do the major suggestions, us Democrats ain’t got a chance in hell!

Pleasant weekend.




The aim of this memorandum is to suggest a course of political conduct for the Administration to follow from September 1947 to the November 1948 elections.

“What suggestions there are on policy are based solely on an appraisal of “the politically advantageous thing to do.” In a democracy, what is politically advisable may often accord with the merits of a particular policy; often it does not. This memorandum makes no attempt to evaluate the merits; that is a matter of conscience for the Administration. For working purposes it is assumed here that the politically wise thing to do is also the best policy for the United States.)

An old axiom claims that politics is no more than a study of the probabilities. If that is so there can be no original or unusual thinking in such a survey as this; it must, rather, be devoted to a review of the usual. Most of the comments to be made on modern American politics have already been said and are constantly being restated.

For instance, the basic premise of this memorandum – that the Democratic Party is an unhappy alliance of Southern conservatives, Western progressives and Big City labor – is very trite; but it is also very true. And it is equally ture that the success or failure of the Democratic leadership can be precisely measured by its ability to lead enough members of these three misfit groups to the polls on the first Tuesday after the first Monday of November.

It may, however, be useful to attempt an estimate, as of September 1947, of what will probably happen in the next year, and to suggest what steps the Administration should now initiate so that it, rather than the opposition party, will direct (insofar as direction is humanly possible), the decision of the American people on Election Day.

As of today, some probabilities are apparent. These should determine the Administration’s political course and bearing for the next few months and preferably until the Democratic Convention in July. Some of these probabilities appear almost certainties; others, to say the least, are extremely arguable. Taken together, however, they may afford the Administration a working hypothesis on which to base its political actions.

A. The Probabilities.

1. Governor Dewey will be the nominee of the Republican Party. This tentative conclusion is of course based on the usual factors. Among these is the fact that, at least at the present time, a strong candidate is required to defeat President Truman, as the recent Fortune Poll shows. Just as a year ago the probability was that any Republican could defeat him, so the swiftly fluctuating currents of American opinion may again destroy his strong popularity a few months hence if “the breaks” – such as an imminent European crisis which the American government fails to handle smoothly – are against his Administration. But as of September 1947 it takes a


strong candidate to defeat him. The policies of Senator Taft, for example, have probably so alienated large blocs of voters (viz, AFL President William Green’s recent “dare” to the Republican Party to nominate Taft” that he permanently ruptured his chances for nomination. Although he may still be in a position to dictate the nominee, or in the alternative, there may be a deadlock between Dewey and Taft and the choice will fall on someone such as Eisenhower, Vandenberg, or Warren, these possibilities are at this time so speculative it would be quite inadvisable to formulate a political program on them.

It should be assumed, therefore, that the candidate is Dewey (the only man to lead the president in the Fortune Poll); and that, because of his 1944 experience and because of the extremely efficient group of men he has drawn around him, he will be a resourceful intelligent and highly dangerous candidate, even more difficult to defeat than in 1944.

2. President Truman will be elected if the Administration will successfully concentrate on the traditional Democratic alliance between the South and West. It is inconceivable that any policies initiated by the Truman Administration no matter how “liberal” could so alienate the South in the next year that it would revolt. As always, the South can be considered safely Democratic. And in formulating national policy it can be safely ignored.

The only pragmatic reason for conciliating the South in normal times is because of its tremendous strength in the Congress. Since the Congress is Republican and the Democratic President has therefore no real chance to get his own program approved by it, particularly in an election year, he has no real necessity for “getting along” with the Southern conservatives. He must however, get along with the Westerners and with labor if he is to be reelected.

The Administration is, for practical purposes, politically free to concentrate on the Winning of the West. If the Democrats carry the solid South and also those Western states carried in 1944, they will have 216 of the required 266 electoral votes. And if the Democratic Party is powerful enough to capture the West it will almost certainly pick up enough of the doubtful Middlewestern and Eastern states to get 50 more votes (e.g. Missouri’s 14 votes). They could lose New York, Pennsylvania, Illinois, New Jersey, Ohio, Massachusetts – all the “big” states – and still win.

Therefore, political and program planning demands concentration upon the West and its problems, including reclamation, floods, and agriculture. It is the Number One Priority for the 1948 campaign. The Republican Congress has already done its share to give the West of the Administration.

3. Henry Wallace will be the candidate of a third party. As of September 1947 the majority of informed opinion does not favor this particular hypothesis. Nevertheless, the factors which impel Wallace toward a third party clearly outweigh those which do not.

For one thing the men around Wallace are motivated by the Communist Party line. The First Lord of the Kremlin who determines the Party line is still Karl Marx. The Marxists emphasize that the capitalist economy holds within itself the seeds of its own destruction; that it must inevitably destroy itself by depression and


collapse. But within this rigid ideology is the directive that when and where possible the Party must hasten the process. Moscow is sufficiently aware of American politics to perceive that a Republican administration would be rigid and reactionary, and would fail to take those governmental steps necessary to bolster the capitalist economy in time of crisis. It is also convinced there is no longer nay hope that the Truman Administration will submit to the Russian program of world conquest and expansion. From the Communist long-range point of view there is nothing to lose and much to gain if a Republican becomes the next President. The best way it can help achieve that result, and hasten the disintegration of the American economy, is to split the Independent and labor union vote between Truman and Wallace – and thus insure the Republican candidate’s election.

The best evidence supporting this probability is that the men who surround Wallace today are Party-liners such as C.B. Baldwin, political opportunists such as Harold Young, and gullible idealists like Michael Straight. These men will persuade Wallace it is his duty to his country to run, as they have persuaded him to do everything else they ever wanted him to do. The most recent reports on Wallace’s personality by men who know him well are that while his mysticism increases, the humility which was once his dominant characteristic has decreased to the vanishing point; there is something almost Messianic in his belief today that he is the Indispensable Man.

There is some evidence to the contrary. Wallace has been silent since the announcement of the Marshall Plan, except to claim that the idea was originally his. Within the last few weeks as American Communist Party manifesto which restates the Party line told the faithful that the American Communists are no longer interested in a third party. And Senator Claude Pepper, a devout if cynical follower of the Party-line said on the White House steps that a third party was impracticable and that Wallace could serve his country best as a private citizen.

But these are merely surface phenomena. A more accurate impression is that the Comrades are making a strategic withdrawal for the moment. Tactical considerations, brought about by the refusal of Hillman’s old union to back a third party and thus threatening a possible split in the New York American Labor Party which the Communists only barely control, have caused a temporary soft pedal. The Party line can change swiftly with events. Recent events, both international and domestic, (such as the Presidential veto of the Taft-Hartley Act and the Marshall Plan) do not favor preaching a third party for the moment.

September and October may well show the Communist Party again moving toward the third party. On Labor Day Wallace broke his long silence to address the Wayne County CIO Council in Detroit. This labor council was recently captured by the Communists. His speech before 65,000 persons again threatened a third party. Reid Robinson and Lee Pressman, both party-liners, called for a third party at the August convention of the Mind, Mill and Smelter Workers, a Communist-dominated union. The New York State CIO Council at its annual convention on September 6th rejected a resolution against a third party.

The casual comment by the professional politicians on third party talk is that it is futile since a third party cannot get on enough state ballots. This is


dangerously unrealistic. Wallace is gambling for high stakes. He hopes to defeat President Truman by splitting the Democratic Party and then inherit its leadership so he can be the candidate of 1952. If Wallace can get on the ballots of only a few states and can then draw five or ten per cent of the vote, that vote alone taken from the Democrats in a close election is enough to give the Republicans the electoral vote of those states and therefore national victory. And Wallace can get on the ballot of New York (American Labor Party) and California and other states.

It is also very dangerous to assume that the only supporters of Wallace are the Communists. True enough, they give him a disciplined hard-working organization and collect the money to run his campaign. But he also has a large following throughout the country, particularly of the young voters who are attracted by the idealism that he – and he alone – is talking and who regard war as the one evil greater than any other. He will also derive support from the pacifists, which means a great number of organized women and from whatever irreconcilable and die-hard isolationists remain. He will attract votes – and money – from the “lunatic fringe.” The California Townsendites are already pledged to him.

His October speaking tour should reveal his true colors. In any event, the Denver meeting this Fall of “progressive” delegations from eleven Western states should resolve the third party question – but that may be too late to stop him.

In a close election no votes can be ignored. The only safe working hypothesis is to assume now that Wallace will run on a third party ticket. Every effort must be made now jointly and at one and the same time – although of course by different groups – to dissuade him, and also to identify him nad isolate him in the public mind with the Communists.

The independent and progressive voter will hold the balance of power in 1948; he will not actively support President Truman unless a great effort is made. The Democratic and Republic Parties each have a minimum, a residue, of voters whose loyalty almost nothing can shake. The Independent voter who shifts on the issues comprises a group which today is probably larger than both.

The truth is that the old “party organization” control is gone forever. Better education, the rise of the mass pressure group, the economic depression of the 30’s, the growth of government functions – all these have contributed to the downfall of “the organization.” Tammany, Hague, Kelley and the rest of the straight party leaders, while still important, are no longer omnipotent, no longer able to determine the issue. For practical political purposes they are moribund; they cannot be relied on to do the job alone.

They have been supplanted in large measure by the pressure groups – and the support of these must be wooed since they really control the 1948 election. In these pressure groups are the farmers, still traditionally Republican, and organized labor which became “traditionally Democratic” under Roosevelt. Another loosely organized group are the progressives who followed Roosevelt for four elections but are increasingly restive under President Truman, mostly because of the reactionary domination exercised over the Democratic Party by the Congressional Southerners who, although a minority of the Democratic Party, are a majority of the Party-in-Congress and


are assuming control of the Party organization councils. And also among these groups are the racial groups who have learned to use the vote as an economic weapon and who can no longer be satisfied with a Tammany turkey on Thanksgiving.

(a) The Farmer. The farm vote is in most ways identical with the Winning of the West – the Number One Priority. The farmer is at least at present, favorably inclined toward the Truman Administration. His crops are good, however the high prices may be affecting the rest of the people, they help him more than they hurt him. Parity will protect him – and the Marshall Plan will aid him. The economic and political trend of the Administration (except its tax program) is going his way. Whether prosperity makes him the conservative he usually becomes in good times remains to be seen – but, if it does, nothing much can be done abut it in terms of more political or economic favors to woo him back to the Democratic banner.

(b) Labor. President Truman and the Democratic Party cannot win without the active support of organized labor. It is dangerous to assume that labor now has nowhere else to go in 1948. Labor can stay home.

The rank and file of the workers are not yet politically minded; they will not, therefore, vote or work actively unless they are inspired to so do. They were so inspired by Roosevelt. They were not so inspired in the 1946 Congressional elections. In those elections they did not vote Republican but they did stay home. The labor group has always been politically inactive during prosperity. When they are well fed they are not interested. They will probably be well fed in 1948. They effort to get out the labor vote will thus have to be even more strenuous than in 1944. Labor must be cajoled, flattered and educated. Above all its leaders must be taken into the Administration’s councils and must be given a far larger voice than they now have on matters of policy.

The president’s veto of the Taft-Hartley Bill, coupled with vehement dislike of the Republicans because they passed it over his veto does indicate that as of today Labor is friendly to the President. But to assume that it will remain so throughout 1948 is to assume that Labor leaders are logical men. They are as deficient in that quality as other men.

A survey of the attitude of the major labor organizations as of September 1947 shows that intense and continuing cultivation by the President himself is necessary. For example, John L. Lewis of the Mine Workers is a man of complex motivations. Among the strongest in his megalomaniac character is the bitter realization that President Truman humiliated him more than any other man ever was able to do. He is traditionally Republican; he is vainly resentful of any incumbent in the White House. A persistent rumor in labor circles is to the effect that Lewis, believing he has a winner, has quietly allied himself to Dewey. It is said he even went so far as to counsel Dewey to say nothing on the Taft-Hartley controversy. Whatever his reasons, Dewey did remain silent.

There is very strong evidence that the AFL will shortly form a new political organization to punish the Congressmen who voted for the Taft-Hartley Act – and that John L. Lewis will be formally appointed Political Director of the entire AFL. This presents all sorts of problems for the Administration. Lewis may be


for Dewey or he may be for Truman at the end, but before that time comes, he will try to drive many a hard bargain.

Dubinsky, another AFL Council member, is deliberately cynical. He has said within the past two weeks “All they (the Democrats) want from us is our money, our votes and our machine. They had better come trading.”

The AFL always looks for a bargain. It will want a new one in 1948; it is well to remember Taft-Hartley was 1947 – and so ancient history. Another Council member and the rising leader of the AFL, George Meaney, who heads the new York AFL Council, has always been eager to make a trade when he thinks he has a winner. By his direction, and for the first time in many years, the AFL in 1946 refused to endorse the Democratic candidates for Governor and Senator in new York. A recent radio speech by Meaney is a masterpiece of record-building. Assailing the Taft-Hartley Act he deliberately, and time after time, confined his attach to “Congressional Republicans.” He carefully said nothing against the Party as a whole or against such non-Congressional Republicans as Governor Dewey, with whom he is friendly. For a few face-saving concessions from the Republican majority in the next session of Congress, such as minor amendments on Taft-Hartley, the sixty-cent minimum wage bill and a few gestures toward a health and housing program, large segments of the AFL, on the basis of past performances, might well “go along” with the GOP – if the candidate were someone other than Taft.

Only William Green is presently enthusiastic. In a September dinner conversation with an Administration official he outlined the elaborate and expensive plans of the AFL to defeat the Congressional Republicans. After an hour of enthusiasm he said bitterly “If only the President will let us do it!” He meant that he had received no overtures, no offer of cooperation from the Administration. In a mood to commit himself and therefore most of his organization irrevocably to the President’s reelection, he can find no one even interested in taking advantage of him. His mood will not last forever.

The CIO is almost hopelessly split. As of September 1947 the so-called “right wingers”, led by Emil Rieve, claim they are ready and able to drive the Communist left wingers, with Lee pressman as the leading victim, out of the CIO in the Convention this fall. Only the most helpful observer can believe this will happen. But if it occurs it might mean the breakup of the CIO and a consequent lessening of its political strength. However, Philip Murray’s past course of conduct indicates that once again he will do anything in his power to hold the CIO together, even at the price of his continued acquiescence in the Communist maneuverings within the CIO.

He may also agree that he will be forced into inactive neutrality between Truman and Wallace, as compared with the great activity of PAC in 1944 in behalf of Roosevelt. Murray’s bitter and unnecessary remark after the veto of the Taft-Hartley Bill to the effect that the President may have been motivated by political considerations rather than a sincere belief in the intrinsic demerits of the Bill, can be explained only on the ground that he is, politically, far from ready or able to put the CIO’s strength at the Administration’s beck and call.


Of all Labor, only the Railroad Brotherhoods seem at this stage to be overly friendly to the Democrats. The “flipflop” of A.F. Whitney, once so bitter at the President and long regarded as a third-party enthusiast, is an encouraging sign.

The moral is plain. Much work must be done with organized labor. The moment will never be so propitious again. Now, while the rank-and-file of Labor is so bitter at the Republicans, is the time to make overtures to its leaders. There is great pressure on them to back the President. The situation can easily deteriorate in a few months, particularly as Labor is cultivated by the Dewey forces.

(c) The “Liberals”. Nor are the liberal and progressive leaders overly enthusiastic about the Administration. Foreign policy has forced the large bulk to break sharply with Wallace and the fellow-travelers. And of course they find no hope in Republican activities as evidenced by the recent Congress. Fear of the Republicans may drive them to activity for President Truman, but at present there is no disposition to do much more than stay home on election day. Whether their reasons are valid or otherwise, many of them feel that the progressive wing has been cut off by the Southerners and the “organization” leaders from any say in the Democratic Party. This is particularly true of such organizations as Americans for Democratic Action where most of the Roosevelt New Dealers have found haven. When Adolf Berle, after calling on the President as chairman of the New York Liberal Party, announced he was against Wallace and a third party and that the New York Liberal Party would support President Truman, an almost universal criticism among the progressive groups of this statement was that Berle acted unintelligently – he had thrown away the bargaining power of his group a year before the election and had received nothing in return.

The liberals and progressives need to be fed idealism. They cannot, for the most part swallow the Wallace brand but they are not averse to the kind James Roosevelt, politically sensitive to the powerful California “left,” gave them on September 5th when he announced in a radio speech he would introduce a limited “redistribution” plank at the Democratic Convention.

The liberals are numerically small. But, similar to manufacturers and financiers of the Republican Party, they are far more influential than mere numbers entitle them to be. The businessman has influence because he contributes his money. The liberal exerts unusual influence because he is articulate. The “right” may have the money, but the “left” has always had the pen. If the “intellectual” can be induced to back the President, he will do so in the press, on the radio, and in the movies. He is the artist of propaganda. He is the “idea man” for the people. Since the rise of the pressure groups, the men of ideas who can appeal to them on their own ground, in their own words have become an essential ally to the alert candidate in modern American politics.

(d) The Negro. Since 1932 when, after intensive work by President Roosevelt, their leaders swung the Pennsylvania Negro bloc into the Democratic column


with the classic remark, “Turn your picture of Abraham Lincoln to the wall – we have paid that debt,” the northern Negro has voted Democratic (with the exception of 1946 in New York). A theory of many professional politicians is that the northern Negro voter today holds the balance of power in presidential elections for the simple arithmetical reason that the negroes not only vote in a bloc but are geographically concentrated in the pivotal, large and closely contested electoral states such as New York, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Michigan. This theory may or may not be absolutely true, but it is certainly close enough to the truth to be extremely arguable.

In great measure this explains the assiduous and continuous cultivation of the New York Negro vote by Governor Dewey and his insistence that his controllable legislature pass a state anti-discrimination act. No less an authority than Ed Flynn has said privately in the past two weeks that Dewey will take New York from Truman in 1948 because he controls the Negro and Italian blocs. This explains the strenuous efforts made by Wilkie in the 1940 campaign to get the Negro vote and it of course explains the long continuing solicitude of the New Deal wing of the Democratic Party toward the Negro.

There are several straws, aside from the loyalty of his leaders to Dewey, that the northern Negro is today ready to swing back to his traditional moorings – the Republican Party. Under the tutelage of Walter White, of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, other intelligent, educated and sophisticated leaders, the Negro voter has become a cynical, hardboiled trader. He is just about convinced today that he can better his present economic lot by swinging his vote in a solid bloc to the Republicans. He believes the rising dominance of the Southern conservatives in the Democratic councils of the Congress and of the Party makes it only too clear that he can go no further by supporting the present Administration. Whether his interest lies in a Federal Anti-Poll Tax Statute, in the protection of his civil liberties or in a permanent federal FEPC, he understands clearly that he now has no chance or success with any of these because of the Southern Senators of the Democratic Party.

As well aware of this Democratic chink in the armour as the Negro are the Republican politicians. They make no great secret of their intent to try to pass a FEPC Act and anti-poll tax statute in the next Congress. Whether they are successful – or whether Democratic filibusters will block them – they can’t see how they can lose in such a situation either way. The Negro press, often venal, is already strongly Republican.

To counteract this trend, the Democratic Party can point only to the obvious – that the really great improvement in the economic lot of the Negro of the North has come in the last sixteen years only because of the sympathy and policies of a Democratic Administration. The trouble is that this has worn a bit thin with the passage of the years. Unless the Administration makes a determined campaign to help the Negro (and everybody else) on the problems of high prices and housing – and capitalizes politically on its efforts – the Negro vote is already lost. Unless there are new and real efforts (as distinguished from mere political ;gestures which are today thoroughly understood and strongly resented


by sophisticated Negro leaders) the Negro bloc, which, certainly in Illinois and probably in New York and Ohio, does hold the balance of power, will go Republican.

(e) The Jew. The Jewish vote, insofar as it can be thought of as a bloc, is important only in New York. But (except for Wilson in 1916) no candidate since 1976 has lost New York and won the Presidency, and its 47 votes are naturally the first prize in any election. Centered in New York City, that vote is normally Democratic and, if large enough, is sufficient to counteract the upstate vote and deliver the state to Truman. Today the Jewish bloc is interested primarily in Palestine an somewhat critical of the Truman Administration on that ground. The bungling of the British in the Exodus case is sure to intensify these already complicated and irrational resentments. Unless the Palestine matter is boldly and favorably handled there is bound to be some defection on their part to the alert Dewey. It should not be overlooked, either, that much of this Jewish vote is also the “left” vote and will go to Wallace.

(f) The Catholic. The Catholic vote is traditionally Democratic. But there have been disturbingly consistent and fairly well documented rumors that the Catholic fear of Communism is grown so great that it is actively distrustful and suspicious today of any group which gives even an appearance of neutrality towards foreign or domestic Communists. It has been said, for example, that in 1946 the prelates of the Church deliberately opposed Senator Mead, although he is a practicing Catholic, in his candidacy for Governor of New York because he tolerated a loose alliance with the American Labor Party, controlled by the Communists. This same fear presumably also caused the predominantly Irish population of Massachusetts to vote Republican in a number of Congressional districts and the pattern was repeated in lesser degree in other parts of the country as far away as Montana. This particular bloc needs very careful watching; the liaisons existing during the Roosevelt Administrations with the Catholic Church must be rebuilt to function as unofficial liaison with the leaders of the Church; if there is a liaison in 1947 it is not known.

(g) The Italian. The Italian vote – which has weight in New York, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, California, and several minor states because it almost always votes as a solid bloc – is notoriously volatile, swinging easily from party to party. Roosevelt came perilously close to losing it with his offhand remark in 1940 about Mussolini’s “stab in the back” of France. But he regained it, and in fact almost made it Democratic forever in 1943 when he formally declared Italian aliens were no longer classified as alien enemies for the rest of the war. Today the Italian racial leaders are again somewhat unhappy – this time because they regard the peace treaty for Italy as unnecessarily harsh. They were not made any happier by the casual “brush off” by the Administration of their protests (the State Department being the chief offender).

Here again Dewey has been assiduous in his cultivation of the Italians. He has, merely as one example, sent word to Ugo Carusi, until recently Commissioner of Immigration and Naturalization, and an important figure in Italian circles, that he wished he would start thinking about what Government position he might want in Dewey’s Administration after 1948. Dewey has a popular and resourceful Italian leader in Ed Corsi, former United States Commissioner


of Immigration and Naturalization and today New York State Labor Commissioner. Ed Flynn is said to believe the New York Governor will have the Italian vote in 1948.

(h) The Alien Group. As of today, the Administration enjoys good standing with the Harrison group interested in expanded immigration quotas. This is a result of the president’s forthright fight for the Stratton Bill. But the leaders of this organization have learned “the hard way” to be politically sophisticated over the last few years. They deliberately plan to make the best trade they can for the DP’s and the other alien groups they represent and have no interest in whether it is to be made with Democrats, Republicans or Hottentots. They are convinced that both parties are primarily interested only for the votes involved; they are ready to act accordingly. On this issue, too, must the Administration carry as its handicap the fact that the major opposition to lowering the immigration barriers comes from its own Southern conservatives. Although not as severely, the Republicans are similarly obstructed here because so many of their Congressmen are residents of small towns and rural areas whose people are bitterly opposed to further immigration. The labor organizations, which originally caused the passage of the immigration laws, have publicly changed their minds and endorsed the Stratton Bill.

The immigration leaders today lean to the belief the Democrats are more sympathetic, but they maintain a flexible position.

5. The foreign policy issues of the 1948 campaign will be our relations with the USSR and the Administration’s handling of foreign reconstruction and relief. The probability that the foreign affairs of the United States will remain on a basis of “bi-partisan cooperation” is unfortunately remote. The stakes in a Presidential contest are so huge that the temptation to make an issue of anything on which there is any segment or group of dissatisfied voters is too irresistible.

There is considerable political advantage to the Administration in its battle with the Kremlin. The best guess today is that our poor relations with Russia will intensify – and will be clarified at the forthcoming meeting of the United Nations at New York. The nation is already united behind the President on this issue. The worse matters get, up to a fairly certain point – real danger of imminent war – the more is there a sense of crisis. In times of crisis the American citizen tends to back up his President. And on the issue of policy toward Russia, President Truman is comparatively invulnerable to attack because of his brilliant appointment of General Marshall who has convinced the public that as Secretary of State he is non-partisan and above politics.

In a flank attack tied up with foreign policy, the Republicans are trying to identify the Administration with the domestic Communists. The President adroitly stole their thunder by initiating his own Government employee loyalty investigation procedure and the more frank Republicans admit it. But their efforts will intensify as the election approaches, particularly when the meager results of the civil service investigations are made public by the Republican Congress.

If the third party effort fizzles, it is quite possible the Communists will try to deliver the unions they dominate to the Republicans. The shoe may conceivably


be on the Republican foot by election time – and it will be the Democrats’ turn to emphasize the red lining on the opposition banner. When Bridges, Curran and Mike Quill “went down the line” for Wilkie in 1940 under the whip of the Nazi-Soviet Pact, President Roosevelt tried to do exactly that but his charge was so new and unexpected, and the Communists so adroit in executing their directives, that the Democratic assertion, although true, just wasn’t believed by a naïve public. If this comes about in 1948 and the Democratic “timing” is better handled, it might prove invaluable, particularly as the American public is more sophisticated and more sensitive to the red issue than it then was.

But domestic Communism is merely a sideshow to the “Big Tent.” On the main issues the Republican strategy on foreign policy as it appears to be developing is a very effective one. It is effective because of its simplicity; -- “everything that is good about American foreign policy is Marshall; everything that is bad is Truman.”

Republican propaganda is repetitious on the theme that Soviet expansion in Europe could and should have been stopped long ago and that only Roosevelt’s bungling at Yalta and Truman’s equal ineptitude at Potsdam prevented this from happening; that the money spent, $23 billion, for foreign relief seems to have done no good whatsoever; and that the occupation of Germany is a costly failure. This strategy was sharpened by Senator Taft in his Ohio speech when he very carefully emphasized that these weaknesses could not be blamed on the Republican Congress – only a strong Executive, said he, can give the nation a sound foreign policy. Congressman Bender of Ohio, a Taft spokesman, in early September urged that we abandon Europe since all the money poured in since VE-Day had been wasted.

The administrative handling of the Administration’s Greek program has not yet drawn the fire of Taft or other Republican spokesmen but it soon will. The incompetence in Greece is a token of the kind of administrative fumbling on the Marshall plan which may be expected during the initial stages of its execution. Unfortunately those initial stages of administration will coincide in point of time with the political months of the 1948 campaign. They will surely be a shining target for the Republican opposition. The staggering cost of the foreign aid program is just coming home to the American people and the pitifully meager results to show for that cost by campaign time may force the American people to say they have “had enough.”

6. The domestic issues of the campaign will be high prices and housing.

The High Cost of Living will be the most controversial issue of the 1948 campaign – indeed the only domestic issue. Whichever Party is adjudged guilty of causing it will lose the election. For that reason the presentation of its case by the Democratic Party – the manner, the substance and the effectiveness of its evidence – is of crucial importance.

In a sense Housing is a part of the larger price issue. Yet it has its own separate dramatic possibilities and for most purposes can be treated as separate. For instance, the World War II Veteran, not yet as politically conscious as prices may force him to be next year, has been led to believe (whether rightly or wrongly) that he has a vested interest in adequate housing. This alone is enough to cause


concentration on who is responsible for the lack of housing – the Democratic President or the Republican Congress. But the pressures on both landlord and tenant, on builder and buyer, will also result in expanding the issue so that almost every voter will be affected.

As part of the general strategy of their high command to move somewhat more to the “left” in the second session of Congress, the Republicans will push some sort of a housing bill. Whatever they do sponsor, in all probability a “watered-down” version of the Taft-Wagner-Ellender bill, will be anathema to their financial backers but they know they must make a real attempt on housing to hold the so-called “middle class vote,” which in 1946 gave them control of the Congress.

The High Cost of Living in general will be the main issue for the devastating reason that neither Party could avoid it if it wanted to – and both have good reasons for wanting to. The Republicans will attack the Administration (they are already doing so) on the ground it has encouraged wage increases for labor. They will, if they can, obscure the fact they insisted on the removal of OPA price controls.

Both parties will do a great deal of talking about inflation but neither will really do anything about it. Politics will make it impossible in 1948 to touch the farmers; yet farm price support and large food exports abroad are the main reasons for high food prices. In an election year the farmer is everybody’s friend. Certainly the Administration is committed to the Marshall Plan which, whatever it means, at the very least means the export of materials and food during the crucial months of the campaign. The resulting smaller supply to meet domestic demand means another inevitable rise in the price level – just at the worst time from the political point of view.

The big political question is who will be blamed? The Republicans because they removed the OPA controls and refused to subsidize housing? Or the Democrats because of farm prices, labor “coddling” and “restrictive” tax policies? There is a third possibility – that the public won’t “give a damn” who caused it. By November 1948 it may again be in that irritable and irrational mood it found itself in during the Congressional Election 1946 – and vote the “ins” out and the “outs” in. If so, “ins” should be translated to read “the Demcoratic President” – since the nature of American elections means the spotlight is concentrated on the Presidential contest.

How the Administration dramatizes the High Cost of Living, how effective it is in presenting its story to the people – beginning now – can determine the next incumbent of the White House.

7. The conflict between the President and the Congress will increase during the 1948 election. With both major parties making their records for the campaign, and with each trying to claim credit for popular issues and to place the blame for the unpopular ones on the opposition, the political atmosphere will be so pervading that little real “business” will be done. The mutual distrust which such conduct necessarily engenders must result in a continual conflict almost from the beginning of the session.

This probably means the end of “bipartisan cooperation” on foreign policy. In the election year atmosphere it is quite difficult to “compartmentalize” issues. To expect reasonableness and partnership on foreign affairs while guerrilla warfare is going on in domestic matters is to expect that politicians overnight have


become more than the mere mortal beings they are.

In so far as it has control of the situation, the Administration should select the issues upon which there will be conflict with the majority in Congress. It can assume it will get no major part of its own program approved. Its tactics must therefore be entirely different than if there were any real point to bargaining and compromise. Its recommendations – in the State of the Union message and elsewhere – must be tailored for the voter, not he Congressmen; they must display a label which reads “no compromises.” The strategy on the Taft-Hartley Bill – refusal to bargain with the Republicans and to accept any compromises – paid big political dividends. That strategy should be expanded in the next session to include all the domestic issues.

B. The Course of Action.
If the “Probabilities” (as discussed above), or most of them, are correct, there remain the twin problems of how to take advantage of those which are favorable and how to effect changes in those unfavorable.

The action required to achieve this should take place on two levels – the political level and what can be called “the program” level.

1. The Political Level
(a) “The Party Organization” The one particular upon which all politicians agree is that the leadership of the Democratic organization is moribund. It is hardly important on this late day whether this is anyone’s fault. The blunt facts seem to be that the Party has been so long in power it is fat, tired and even a bit senile. Those alert party machines which, beginning with 1932, turned out such huge majorities in the big cities for the Democratic ticket have all through the years of their victories been steadily deteriorating underneath – until in 1944 the Democratic organization found itself rivaled , in terms of money and workers, and exceeded in alertness and enthusiasm by the PAC.

Everywhere the professionals are in profound collapse.

Hague and Kelley admit publicly they are through as political bosses of the first magnitude. They have left no one in their places; their organizations are shot through with incompetence. There are a few signs of revival in New York under Mayor O’Dwyer but hardly enough to justify any optimism. In Ohio the regular organization wars with former Governor Lausche. Jim Curley, still Boston’s great vote getter, fills his cell with threats of smashing the party in Massachusetts – and no one doubts for a minute that he can do it. Pennsylvania is torn between Lawrence and Joe Guffey and every time Lawrence gets some Federal patronage to dispense, Guffey sings the praises of Henry Wallace as publicly as possible. The California quarrel is so dramatic it needs no comment. In worse or less degree the situation is the same in most of the states.

The present “organization” pours out reams of publicity; it is dispatched by mail by press and by radio, but there seems to be hardly anyone out “beating the bushes” to harmonize where possible and desirable, to reconstruct where necessary, the leadership in the states and the cities, the towns and the counties.


If this state of affairs is accepted as true, the specifications for the next Democratic Chairman are obvious. They make quite irrelevant the public discussion and comment about whether the new Chairman must be acceptable to the liberals and labor or to the Southern conservatives, should or should not be from New York, or from the Pacific Coast, and so forth. The real, the crying need is, as it has often been phrased, “for another Jim Farley.” The new Chairman must be a man who will ride the trains.

Since this is the prime requisite the Chairman should not come from the Senate. Not only are Senators rarely good organizers (they are too accustomed to working on their own) but no Senator, Senators being what they are, will give up his seat to be Chairman – and no Chairman, whois also a Senator, is going to absent himself from the second session of the Congress. But this is just the period when the Chairman should be absent from Washington. In effect, then, the Senator-Chairman would be trying to perform two part-time jobs. And this one is an “overtime” job.

The second requirement of the new Chairman is that above all else he must be a professional politician. He must be acceptable and well known to the Party leaders. He simply has to be “one of the boys.” A year ago this might have been unnecessary. In the short time left, however, the Party cannot afford the luxury of “getting acquainted.” There is not that much time. Of he is not known to the professionals, the arbitrary decisions he must make just won’t be accepted.

If, after all this, he happens also to be acceptable to the progressive and labor groups, that is so much “velvet.” (This hardly requires discussion; he won’t be.) Harmonizing their interests with those of the organization does present a difficult problem. The practical solution which should satisfy all wings of the party is to select a professional politician as Chairman and give the other wing (the real vote-getting wing, it should be remembered, if the premises of this memorandum are sound) the consolation prize – appoint a liberal with labor contacts as Vice Chairman or Executive Director.

The one essential is to have a new Chairman as soon as possible – working to rebuild the Party organization from the ground up and trying to harmonize such appalling feuds as that in California. The practice of today’s Democratic organization in spending almost all its time in raising money and doing favors for “the faithful” may be useful but it does little to rebuild the Democratic Party – and that is what it needs.

(b) Liaisons with Labor and Independents. Just as vital to eventual political success is the renewal of the Administration’s working relationship with progressive and labor leaders. Whatever may be the reasons, these seem to have entirely ceased except on a perfunctory basis in the past year. No moment will ever be better for the President to make political capital out of the present frustration of the labor movement.

The leaders of labor must be given the impression that they are once more welcome in the councils of the Administration.


Much of this cultivation can be done only by President Truman himself. Immersed in the staggering burden of his work and preoccupied with his day-to-day problems it is easy for the incumbent of the White House to forget the “magic” of his office. The mere extension of an invitation to William Green, Dan Tobin, Philip Murray, Dubinsky or any of the prominent leaders to “come in and talk with me” has a stupendous effect on them and their followers.

One by one they should be asked to “come by” and the President should ask them for their advice on matters in general. (This is a question of delicate “timing” – it is dangerous to ask a labor leader for advice on a specific matter and then ignore that advice.) No human being – as every President, from Washington on, has ruefully learned – can resist the glamour, the self-important feeling of “advising” a President on anything, even if it is only his golfing backswing.

Thus the relationship looking toward 1948, which is after all a common goal for Democrats and organized labor, can begin to function. But more than that is needed. The President should elect a lieutenant, or lieutenants, whom he personally trusts who would continue to “make hay” for him. A fresh “face” is desirable. He should have, besides the President’s ear the confidence of the labor leaders. There are several such men already in the Administration who have the ability to handle such a complicated political operation. This presidential agent should be instructed to begin general conversations with the CIO, AFL and the Railroad Brotherhoods. If he is successful, well and good; if he fails, no great harm has been done and someone else can be selected to plow this field. But a man with vigor and intelligence – and a good sense of how far to go and when – should start immediately.

In this way perhaps the mistakes of the Pennsylvania Congressional by-election on September 19th which proved so disastrous to labor might be avoided in the future. Experienced politicians saw the pitfalls of such a test and disapproved the amateur methods of the CIO, including “outside interference,” emphasis on the labor issue, in the worst kind of distrust for it, and so on, almost right through the Book.

But if the Administration’s labor lieutenant (never appearing publicly in the campaign) could have worked out the general strategy in concert with the AFL, the CIO and the progressives, and coordinated them with the local Democratic machine, the harmful effect of the Pennsylvania election could have been avoided. It must be avoided in the pre-convention tests remaining.

A program of cultivation should also be carried on with the progressive and independence leaders around the country. Again some one lieutenant – personally selected by the President – should be entrusted with this campaign.

By such mechanisms as these, the complaints, the attitudes and the points of view of these two vote-getting groups can be funneled into the White House so it will be really informed about just what is going on. These regular reports added to those made by a revitalized party organization will increase the Administration’s political intelligence, today sadly atrophied.


And by election time the Administration, labor and the progressives will have built a mechanism of coordination with one another equipped to function throughout the storm and stress of a presidential campaign.

(c) The insulation of Henry Wallace. Wallace should be put under attack whenever the moment is psychologically correct. If it is clear that organizational work is being undertaken by his men in the West either for a third party or for delegates to the Democratic Convention – and that work seems to be taking effect – the Administration must persuade prominent liberals and progressives – and no one else – to move publicly into the fray. They must point out that the core of the Wallace backing is made up of Communists and the fellow-travelers. At the same time some lines should be kept out so that if the unpredictable Henry finally sees the light and can be talked into supporting the Administration, he will have a handy rope to climb back on the bandwagon – if he is wanted.

But there is only futility in the delusion that Wallace can be insulated merely by yelling at him. As his own lieutenants say, and accurately, in their private conversations, “Henry can be stopped quite easily; all Truman has to do is move to the left and our ground is cut out from under us; but we are quite sure he won’t do it.” How the administration can move “left” belongs in the discussion of the “program” (below).

But along with programs there are the men who execute these programs. And here is the strong weapon of the President’s arsenal – his appointing power. Politicians, like most other people, think of issues in terms of men, not statistics. When the President moves “left” in his appointments he is putting political money in his bank.

The September 11th speech by Wallace was his first really adroit one. It was a bid to the discontented liberals wavering behind Truman. What he said publicly they have been saying privately with increasing bitterness – even those who support the President. Henry Wallace appealed to the atavistic fear of all progressives – the fear of “Wall Street”. This fear is not the sole property of the progressives. It belongs traditionally to the Democratic Party. It began with the agrarian Jefferson’s battle against Hamilton, it continued with Jackson’s fight against Nicholas Biddle’s bank, it found its silver tongue in the crusades of William Jennings Bryan and it came to full flower under Wilson and Franklin Roosevelt. In a very important sense it is the reason for the Democratic Party – because the only way to explain the lasting alliance between the South and the West is their mutual fear of domination by the industrial East. Today the South can agree on no issue with the West – except “Wall Street.”

Wallace’s men went to Machiavelli and to American history when they put his September 11th speech together. Its appeal is devastating. In effect all he had to do was call the roll -- ; Harriman, Forrestal and Lovett, Wall Street investment bankers; William Draper and Saltzman, investment bankers; Jack McCloy, Wall Street lawyer, and so forth. And to cap his climax, Wallace reminded his listeners of the White House visits by Herbert Hoover, the man against whom Roosevelt ran four times no matter whom the Republicans nominated.


The Wallace plan is simplicity itself. It should be – because it has been used before. He merely borrowed it from Fighting Bob LaFollette who received five million votes in 1924 by attacking Coolidge and John W. Davis as “Tweedledum and Tweedledee, the messenger boys of Wall Stree.” And the significance of the LaFollette third party was not its total vote but that the Progressives ran ahead of the Democrats in eleven Western states. The combined Democratic-Progressive vote was larger than the Republican vote in thirteen states, including President Truman’s own state of Missouri. Democrats who voted for Davis would have voted for any Democrat and the LaFollette Progressives would have voted for any liberal Democrat. In effect, then, this was a present of 86 electoral votes to the Republicans, not enough to change the 1924 election (382 minus 86 equals 292 votes; 136 plus 86 equals 222); but it is more than enough to raise havoc for a close election. Henry Wallace may be fuzzy-minded on many matters, but his mathematics is all right.

Truman must carry the West to win. To carry the West he must be “liberal”; he cannot affoard to be shackled with the Wall Street label by any so-called progressive movement. And Wallace recalls only too well that the spiritual father of the New Deal was not John W. Davis but Bob LaFollette, and that the New Deal came only eight years later.

A President – harassed by the mounting problem of Europe, and by the numerous resignations of men who can no longer afford to work for the Government, and also by the desirability of selecting men who can be confirmed – may justifiably be strongly tempted to reply: “Demagoguery!” to the Wall Street charge. True as this may be, and unfair as such labeling is to the persons attacked, who are doing what they can for their country, the charge is nonetheless filled with too much political dynamite. In politics many things are unfair.

The man-in-the-street understands little and cares less about the personal difficulties of public administration. These difficulties have no glamour, they are too complex – and so they just don’t get across. The Wallace attack does. In the blunt words of the ILGWU (Dubinsky) Union Convention:

“Foreign policy is not the private property of…retired financiers. Foreign policy is the burning concern of the great mass of the people.”

And that is all that the working man will remember of that issue.

It is imperative that the President makes some top level appointments from the ranks of the progressives – in foreign as well as domestic affairs. His fight for Lilienthal made him the hero of the independent voter. His refusal to withdraw the name of Francis Biddle as American delegate to the Economic and Social Council until Biddle requested it made him many friends among the liberals. Top ranking appointments of men like young Bob LaFollette are needed. The pattern must be repeated even of some of them are not confirmed. Under their impact, Wallace will fade away.

(d) Portrait of a President. A crucial – but easy – step forward to November 1948 is to create in the public mind a vote-getting picture of President Truman. The men around the President, naturally the most devoted of his followers, are


inevitably so immersed in the details and execution of his day-to-day orders that they do not “see him whole.” They cannot see the forest for the trees. Possibly it is helpful if the impress President Truman makes on the public is summarized from a more distant, and therefore more objective, perspective:

Both the original “honeymoon” and the later violently critical period of public opinion toward the President seem to be over. Emerging instead is the picture of a man the American people like. They know now that he is a sincere and humble man and, in the cliché so often heard, that he is a man “trying to do his best.”

It is said invariably, and always without analysis, that the President is the Chief of the State, the Symbol of Government. What the theorists as well as the politicians do not observe is that the public gets its impression of its President mostly from the actions he takes when performing as Chief of State – as the Head of Government. The masses of the people rarely if ever think of him in his role of Government administrator, or as the responsible policy maker on our national economic problems.

They really form their lasting impressions from watching his incidental gestures – when he appears as a representative of all the American people.

As apt illustration is the contrast between his Mexican trip and later Canadian trip. The Canadian trip might have been, so far as anyone knows, more important for the United States then his visit to Mexico. It is a reasonable guess, however, that today few American citizens even remember he went to Canada. But almost everyone remembers his graceful gesture about he Mexican cadets. Whether it was planned deliberately or was a last-minute improvisation is unimportant. In the future such gestures should be more numerous and should be planned deliberately; that is the way the public should remember its President.

The trip to the Rio Conference will be recalled not because of the success of the conference but because of the Brazilian ovation to “our” President, because he went orchid-hunting and was changed from a pollywog into a shellback. He is at his best when an Ambassador of Good Will. And he gets more newspaper attention and much more interest from the American people than do the transparent journeyings of Messrs. Dewey and Taft.

But at home the American people are daily forced to think of their President as a politician for the good reason that the news stories deal only with his activities as politician – because that is what he is engaged in doing. His calling lists, week in and week out, are filled almost entirely with Government and Congressmen with whom he consults on problems that are important to the nation, but appear to the average reader complicated and dull.


The public is hungry for something more in its Chief Executive. It does not want those stereotyped gestures, so done to death in past years that they are routine. No one really cares any more about a round-the-world flyer, or the little girl with the first poppy of the Disabled Veterans, or the Eagle Scout from Idaho. Granted that such appointments often cannot be avoided and must be borne with fortitude, they have long since reached the stage of diminishing returns.

The kinds of gestures desired are those which, taken altogether and repeated again and again, will form a carefully drawn picture of the President as a broad-gauged citizen with tremendously varied interests. If well done there will be countless variations on this theme. This does not mean he should do anything which puts him in a false or unnatural light. These artificialities contain within themselves too much political danger (viz., Calvin Coolidge wearing his Indian bonnet or Senator Taft catching his fish).

But there are many gestures of substance to be made. Soley for purposes of illustration, several are here suggested (these particular ones revolve around the most superb of all backdrops – the White House itself!):

(i) The President could lunch with Albert Einstein; it will be remembered he was the man who prevailed upon Roosevelt to start the atomic bomb project. At his next press conference he can explain that they talked, in general, about the peacetime uses of atomic energy and its potentialities for our civilization. He can then casually mention that he has been spending some of his leisure time getting caught up on atomic energy; he has been having “briefing sessions” with the Atomic Energy Commission; and has also been doing some reading purely from the layman’s point of view. He suggests to the newsmen it would do them no harm at all to read such and such a book (as long as he picks the right one) which he as just read. In another connection (The Winning of the West”), this memorandum suggests later that he visit Los Alamos and Oak Ridge, but in point of “timing” the Einstein visit and the New Mexico visit could be done together.

(ii) Henry Ford II as a member of the President’s Temporary Air Policy Commission is often in Washington these days. The President should casually invite him to lunch just to talk over matters “generally”. This picture of the American President and the Young Business Man together has appeal for the average reader. Many other business leaders should be called in occasionally.

The press must print news of the President; so he controls his publicity by his own whim. One or two non-political personages a week should be the target. The need for conferences with labor leaders has already been emphasized for other reasons. This technique of summons to the White House has the added virtue, besides publicity, of building good will. An organization is flattered that its leader is considered important enough to be consulted. This takes that most important of commodities – Presidential Time – but it is well worth its expenditure. It is worth it because of the American’s inordinate curiosity – he will watch that lunch with a new interest, even a sense of personal participation, if the other participant is someone other than a Government administrator or Congressman.


(iii) The President should concentrate on other fields. The literary field, for example, has its uses. A novelist with the latest best seller is just as good as an international banker for those purposes. Outstanding women in various activities should be invited. (But Hollywood has probably been run into the ground.) The new magazine, “47,” recently listed the 64 persons who “rule America”; possibly there is an appointment list ready at hand for this project.

The President will have more than enough on his mind in the coming months; he cannot be expected to think much about this sort of thing. But it is intrinsically important. Someone with imagination should be delegated to draw up this type of agenda and present several alternatives weekly to him. His own good sense of political judgment will accept or reject these suggestions if all he is required to do is check the ones he prefers.

But he will need to do something of this nature for an entirely extraneous – and much more valid – reason: Since he is President he cannot be politically active until well after the July Convention. The people are inconsistent and capricious but there is no argument that they feel deeply on this -- : He must be President of all the people and not merely the leader of a party, until the very last minute. Therefore he must act as a President almost up to Election Day. Lincoln set the pattern by remaining “judiciously aloof” (to use his own phrase) in Illinois while his henchmen carried on the political war for him. Dewey, Taft, Stassen and Wallace are free as birds to attack him but once he stoop to answer them on their level he has done himself severe damage. Only Wilson broke this rule of being President of all the people – in 1918 by asking for a Democratic Congress – and the people punished him for it by returning a Republican one.

So a President who is also a candidate must resort to subterfuges – for he cannot sit silent. He must be in the limelight. He must do the kind of thing suggested above to stay in the limelight and he must also resort to the kind of trip which Roosevelt made famous in the 1940 campaign – the “inspection tour.” No matter how much the opposition and the press pointed out the political overtones of those trips, the people paid little attention because what they saw was the Head of State performing his duties.

One other point must be made. No matter how unfair it may be, the American public still has the “Missouri Gang” in mind. The Republicans have no intention of allowing that picture to die; it is too good for them politically. The press will keep it alive; it is too good a story. Andrew Jackson had his “Kitchen Cabinet”; Wilson, his Colonel House; Roosevelt, his Harry Hopkins, and his Brain Trusters. All were sitting targets. And the opposition – as always unwilling to attack a President directly – proposes to pound away at President Truman’s “Missouri Gang.” Despite the President’s reaction against its unfairness, this picture must be changed. Harry Hopkins disappeared from the White House in 1936 campaign and Tommy Corcoran disappeared from the public eye in the 1940 campaign. George Allen and others of the President’s circle can do no less. In deference to the Presidency and to the high stakes at issue, he must no longer allow himself to “Carry” them – for the simple reason they will be hurting his chances – and those of his Party.


These few comments on “The Portrait of a President” are meant to be no more than illustrative of the careful thought which must be devoted to presenting a well-rounded broad-gauged and versatile candidate to the American people.

(e) Foreign policy. Since the general strategy of the opposition in the field of foreign affairs is their claim that “what is good is Marshall, what is bad is Truman,” the portrait the public sees must also undergo alterations. President Truman must assume before the eyes of the people the leadership on foreign policy. Today the American people identify Secretary Marshall, and not the President, as our spokesman. This may have substantive advantages because of its non-partisan aura – but unhappily it is bad politics for 1948. For example, one of the reasons privately circulated by the men promoting today’s tentative boomlet for Eisenhower is that the General knows foreign policy much more than theoretically; that he is accustomed to dealing directly with British, Russians, French and Germans. Unless clumsier than usual, the Republicans will be cautious that they do not provoke Marshall into such a defensive attitude that he will be forced to attach their obstructionism. Indeed Governor Dewey may go so far as to say that if elected he will keep Marshall as Secretary of State.

But if the President is to be attacked on what his opponents believe are the vulnerable aspects of our conduct of foreign policy, he must allow himself to be in a position where he can take credit for those aspects the public regards as the virtues of that policy. He cannot afford to continue allowing them to go by default to Marshall.

It is no answer to say this is a risky and delicate operation. Marshall, it can be agreed, has convinced the public he is above partisan politics. He is of course a vital force in national affairs and it would be politically dangerous to antagonize or to alienate him; this might happen if he were given some reason to believe his efforts were being subordinated and warped to political purposes.

On the other hand, he is a soldier, and trained to be loyal to his Commander-in-Chief. In the American Republic the President is responsible for foreign policy. He cannot be responsible in fact if he cannot use his authority. It is on his record, not that of Marshall, that the people will make their judgment in 1948, and he must be given the credit if he is subject to the blame. Democratic Government means no less and no more than that.

In terms of technique, this means he must use his authority publicly (as well as the private way he undoubtedly does exercise it); that he must speak out more often on specific matters of foreign policy, particularly at press conferences – his great and useful sounding board. The dangers of speaking “off the cuff” on foreign policy are obvious. But there is no reason why, after a detailed “briefing,” many announcements today being made constantly in the State Department (and many of those by subordinate officials) should not come from the White House.

(f) The Commander-in-Chief. World War II taught the American people something they too easily forget – our President is also the Commander-in-Chief. They are forgetting it again, and ironically enough one of the reasons is a pet project


of the President – Unification. There is now a “Super-Cabinet Officer,” – the Secretary of Defense.

It is a commonplace that one of the great difficulties of our Government is that Cabinet Officers, in contrast with the British system, are not as amenable to Presidential discipline as they ought to be. Lincoln suffered as greatly as any President from the vagaries and personal ambitions of his Cabinet Officers, suffered the disloyalty of Jessie Jones far longer than any President should have. There ar some indications today that several of the incumbent Cabinet Officers tend to regard themselves as the rulers of independent baronies. This is always true in some measure but there is no good reason why it should be so (except that the Presidency has never properly been staffed). There is serious danger – irrespective of the personality or talents of whoever happens to have the job at any moment – that this tendency will become really exaggerated in the Department of National Defense. This is particularly so in the world we live in today.

Military affairs, whether we like it or not, will be a leading preoccupation of the average American citizen for the next year. If nothing else he feels it in his pocketbook – 74 cents of the Budget Dollar. Again the White House can be the scene of many announcements on military affairs; and the Commander-in-Chief, not the Secretary of Defense, should make them. The President, as soon as he can arrange a schedule, should appear on the scenes of important military projects.

The press for instance is filled with stories of the sad ;light of military aviation. The temporary Air Policy Commission meets in the fall in California with the air industry. If the President is traveling that way – to Los Alamos? -- , it could be synchronized with his schedule so he might attend informally – “drop in,” as he does so well. A visit to Wright Field at Dayton may be in order. The Ground Forces would be content if he would take a look at the UMT training program at Fort Knox. The Navy had one of its innings – and the President his – on the trip back from Rio.


2. The Program Level.

The suggestions made on the political level go almost wholly to “form”, the manner and method with which things that need doing are to be done. But it is the things that are to be done – the “substance” – that determines the outcome of elections.

The issues are there for anyone to see. What remains is only the decision how and when they are to be handled, so their advantages are politically exploited to the utmost, their disadvantages politically minimized as much as possible.

How does the opposition plan to handle them? It is hardly a secret.

Having performed yeoman service for those interests (e.g. the “Real Estate Lobby”) which provide the financial sinews for political warfare, the Republicans strategists proclaimed their intentions to swing “left” in the next session.

Senator Taft, their leader on domestic policy, has three strings to his bow: Housing, Education (relief for teachers) and Health. The people, including the veterans, are stirred up about housing and rents, and the teachers have votes. The Republicans plan to raise the minimum wage level, do what they can for the DP’s, and give the Negro his FEPC and civil rights legislation, or try to.

All this means they are chasing votes in earnest. And it emphasizes the only tenable Democratic strategy, which is to swing further “left” than they do.

The Democrats hold the Presidency. To make use of it they must understand it. The Presidency is vastly more flexible than the Congress, which moans merely that a President can always act much faster – and more often – than can any group of Senators or Congressmen.

The only time the Republican Party can have an effective public platform (until its convention) is when the Congress it dominates is sitting. When it is not in session, the press the radio and the newsreels belong entirely to the President. A good illustration was the President’s recent review of Congressional action on his 1948 Budget. It was front-page, first-column, all over the nation. The replies of Taber, Taft and the Republican National Committee were 48 hours late and were buried on the back pages – for the good reason that Congressman Taber, for example, was at his home in rural New York and did not have the facilities or figures at hand which were available to him had he been in Washington.

The Administration must take every advantage of its mobility, while it can. It should use this unobstructed platform to lecture – it does not have to debate with Congress away – for the next four months. Work should start now on a broad economic program which it will recommend to the next session of the Congress. The next important part of that work is its press campaign on the issues, waged primarily through the White House press conference, but also by the administrators concerned.

By the time Congress convenes the people will know thoroughly what the President has been asking of them. He won’t get it, his program will not get


very far, but whatever is done will be regarded as a Democratic gain; and the Republican Party will be a sitting target for having been obstructionist. President Truman will be handed his campaign issues tailor-made.

This “program” must be blueprinted in several fields: (a) Housing; (b) High Prices; (c) Foreign Reconstruction – the Marshall Plan; (d) The West – “America’s Needs and Resources”; and (e) A Tax Revision.

(a) Housing. Senator Taft, despite the well-organized lobby fighting any governmental action on housing, knows his party must make a real effort next year to pass his bill. He understands that, with the exception of food prices, housing has a more direct impact on “the greatest number” than any other of today’s issues. The latest misnamed Rent Control Act has made the man-in-the-street conscious of the economic and political power of the real estate interests which, unlike most lobbies, takes the money directly out of the people’s pockets. Although the public reaction has been slow in starting, it is now steadily building up. For instance, there are persistent signs of a revolt by the young veterans against the conservative American Legion policy on housing which has been dictated in toto by the Real Estate Lobby.

Another example was the success of the President’s attack on the Real Estate Lobby in his message approving the rent Control Bill. It has already had effect in the spontaneous manner it was taken up by different groups. It is the essence of politics to wage an attack against a personal devil; the Real Estate Lobby should be built into the dramatic equivalent of the Public Utility Lobby of 1935. Purely on the merits, the performance of the real estate interests in their post-war gouging fully deserves everything they get in the way of retaliation. There can be no possible compunction about using such a tactic against them.

The always over-cautious advisers of the Truman Administration will again recommend caution here. But there is no need for caution – there will be no political reprisals – already the Real Estate Lobby is lined up solidly against the President – and cannot be conciliated without antagonizing the voters irreconcilably.

If there is any way to doing it, the Congress should be made to investigate the lobby. But it is hard to see how a Republican-controlled Congress will touch it. Even if the pressure of public opinion forces them to go through the motions and there is an alert and aggressive Democratic minority appointed, the cloak-room maneuvers will stifle any effective expose.

Nor has the Department of Justice investigation any real possibilities. And it should not be relied on too extensively. First of all, there is already a widespread suspicion that the Department’s motivation was purely political. And since it is an anti-trust investigation, probably nothing new will be found in the housing field that is not already known. The Administration cannot afford to lose a housing case before the campaign is over. However, the useful material already gathered by the Department’s investigators should be made available to those who can make propaganda use of that material.


Attack on the Lobby is negative. The other approach must be affirmative. The Administration is itself vulnerable on housing. It is vulnerable because it has fallen over the same stumbling block for the past fifteen years.

The housing problem is simply one of cost. Some way must be found to lower the cost of private housing (mass production, such as prefabrication by aircraft factories which have a large supply of technical labor). And to provide large subsidies for public housing.

In the four months before the Congress returns the Administration has time to devise its own housing bill. Even those parts of the Taft-Ellender-Wagner Bill which had merit are largely obsolescent. And in terms of 1948 the Administration simply cannot afford to allow a Bill with Taft’s name to pass. This Bill can be worked out in all its detail by housing experts in and out of the Government; probably it should be designed particularly for the unhoused group just below the buyers and tenants who are getting what little is being built today. The President’s special message on his housing program should go to the Congress soon after it convenes (Housing would have already been stressed in his State of the Union Message). But everyone would know what was in the message because the press and publicity campaign would have started long before the session opens.

This program will not get very far in the Republican Congress but it has the two advantages mentioned above: -- it at least liberalizes the Congressional attitude and further it places the Administration squarely on the record as having done its best for housing – a best that was blocked by Republican obstruction.

(b) High Prices. Prices won’t wait for the Congress. They will go higher in the face of the rising clamor and discontent. Spontaneous buyers’ strikes are talked about but they will disappear for the adequate reason that the rises are on necessaries as on luxuries. And everything contributing to the rise will continue to so contribute. The orthodox theory, that eventually buyers are priced out of the market and prices then tumble, seems to have no validity when the inflation affects the necessities of life. Department store sales tumble (this incidentally was the bellweather warning of the 1929 depression) but food goes up.

With the abandonment of OPA controls – as the OPA leaders pointed out at the time – there is no way to keep prices down. In an election year, parity and support of the farmer is not going to be radically changed. The market on raw materials, such as steel, is not getting better; in some ways it is worse, Whatever is done to improve it will not show up by election. Automobile orders are higher now than ever before although it is two years since VJ-Day. And there seems no way in the foreseeable future in which demand can catch up with supply. The Marshall Plan will require considerable export of precisely those articles which are contributing to domestic high prices and thus is another inflationary incentive. In short, the inflation is here and is still galloping.

Something must be done. As time goes on this cry for action from the salaried people and from labor (no better off in “real” “take-home pay” than in 1939 according to BLS statistics), who feel the squeeze more and more, will rise to a roar. It may well be as vital an issue in the 1948 campaign as were the


irritations caused by OPA controls which, ironically enough today, were the major contribution to the crushing Democratic defeat in 1946.

Of course the President has a good record with his veto of the first OPA decontrol bill. He should hand out copies of this veto at his next press conference – that is a sufficiently dramatic gesture. And he can quote Chester Bowles against Senators Taft and Wherry. He must do this sort of thing. Otherwise the Republicans will deliberately obscure the issue – as they are already doing. The people (except those few who follow Washington closely) are confused; they aren’t sure whether the Republicans or the Democrats caused the inflation. With an effrontery worthy of a Huey Long at his best, and an audacity which amazed the politically initiated, Senator Taft on September 16th calmly blamed President Truman for “abandoning OPA controls.” And when the alert Senator Baldwin call on the President to act on food prices, the impetus is in the hands of the Republicans until he does act.

To say “something must be done” is much easier than to do it. The only real solution is to go back to the OPA controls system – and there is no way of dodging that conclusion. But despite the howls of anguish, the nation is far from educated for such drastic steps. It should be educated, as fast as possible because they are inevitable. If the Marshall Plan is not too late nad if it works, it will set into effect a chain reaction which will result in a program of controls as drastic and complicated as was OPA. This will probably not occur until after the campaign however.

The President – after a long and careful study by the technicians – should ask the Congress anyway for price control, and, possibly rationing. Congress won’t give either to him but he is once again “on the record” – and in an offensive rather than defensive position for the campaign.

In the meanwhile, something should happen in a hurry. A great deal of thought should be expended on what else can be done. The “experts” talk constantly of “voluntary” meatless days, “voluntary” rationing, etc., but this, as they well know, is the counsel of desperation. It did not work during was; it certainly won’t work now. The President has steadfastly refused to accept Emil Rieve’s suggestion of a conference of business, government and labor on high prices. His refusal is logical since little or nothing can come out of such a conference. Although logical, this refusal has irritated the labor leaders.

The Administration might reconsider whether such a conference should be called. It will be a gesture toward labor and among other things it will have the advantage of thrashing out the high price problem in public. The more conversation about it, the sooner something constructive can be done. This suggestion is not made because of any faith in voluntary price reduction. Under our free enterprise system such a program is predoomed. But the people expect their President to do something, and since it is a gesture toward labor, and since it would hurry up the education of the people and the Congress as to the need for government controls, there is nothing to be lost and something to be gained – if the conference is not oversold as a panacea and if the President maintains a publicly cautious, skeptical attitude toward it.


(c) Foreign Reconstruction – The Marshall Plan. If the European nations can agree on a program after revision and suggestion by the State Department, it will probably be accepted by the Congress after much public debate and a long fight.

At that stage the President becomes responsible for its efficient administration. The experience to date with the Greek Loan should prove that if better planning does not take place now the fumbling on the Marshall Plan not only will be costly, it will be most obvious to the voters just at the crucial months of the 1948 campaign. Some sort of elaborate export controls will be a first necessity. Eventually a government priority and allocation system operating domestically will be required. And later (as discussed above), a price control system may result because of the strain the exports will put on our domestic economy.

In some ways the Marshall Plan may well be as large a governmental operation as the wartime agencies. If that is so, the planning for its operation and administration, the complicated thinking on economic and social problems it will cause, had better begin soon. In this field particularly the operation problems are peculiarly difficult.

The relevance of the Marshall Plan here is that if this planning now is not of a higher quality than any seen in Washington during the was years, its poor execution can and, may well be, the hottest political issue for 1948 that the Republicans can have.

(d) The West – and “America’s Needs and Resources”. In the land of Electoral Votes, the West is the “Number One Priority” for the Democrats. Its people are more liberal because they need the economic help of government and in the years of the New Deal have come to understand how it functions. Even the Chambers of Commerce of the West rarely prate of governmental economy; they learned better long ago.

There is no need for an extended discussion here about what should be done politically for the Western States. They now their needs – less discrimination in freight rates, reclamation projects and lots of them, better roads (their road system suffered from lack of maintenance in the war years), public power, help in the development and protection of their resources, and so forth. Their needs are not hard to understand. The Administration, which in the last year or two has at least budget-wise not shown much sympathy (although far more than the Republicans), must display a constant and increasing interest in these Western needs.

Although it is inept for the President to make a political tour of the country at this time, he should – as President – visit the West – Grand Coulee and Bonneville, the Hungry Horse of Montana, Los Alamos in New Mexico, the aircraft factories and Navy Yards on the coast and the military installations of the Rocky Mountains.

But he can go much farther and show that he is an imaginative leader. In a world of fear and of accelerating despair, the people need a strong voice


talking about the America of the Future. The appeal of Wallace to the young voters during his western swing several months ago was because he dared to talk in an idealistic strain. No other American figure (not even Stassen, who leads Truman almost 2-1 among the independent and western voters, according to the Fortune poll) has had the imagination to “pitch” his arguments at that level.

Yet it is just that level, other things being equal, that has always had more appeal to the American people than any other. A planning program for the United States, with 1960 as the target-date, may well have that kind of political glamour. It might catch on.

If there is a world in 1960, the United States will unquestionably be the leader of its age. And our domestic economy, what it has done for our own people in every field of endeavor, security, recreation and worldly goods will be the measure of our greatness – for all the world. Twelve years before the event is just about right to start estimating those needs and expanding our resources, all within the framework of free enterprise. A recent Twentieth Century Fund study, “America’s Needs and Resources,” could be taken as a convenient starting place. If the Administration will have the imagination to talk and act in such terms, despite the screams of the conservative part of the press and the “practical men,” (who are all Republicans anyway) it can effectively kill off the Wallaces and the demagogues who will come after him. More pragmatic, it will mean money in the political bank in November 1948.

(e) Tax Program. Although not as inevitable as death and taxes, it is almost certain that in the election year of 1948 – and whether the Administration likes it or not – taxes will be reduced. The Republicans plan to cut them, and Democratic Congressmen in sufficient numbers simply cannot stand up in a campaign year against the pressure to support tax reduction and to override the President’s third veto if it comes.

His two vetoes of the first session have enhanced his prestige in the eyes of the disinterested and thoughtful few, but unless all the political axioms are wrong it has hurt him with the rank and file of voters (although the Gallup poll shows not as much as might be expected). If the huge surplus now estimated is correct, there is no possibility of stemming the tide in the next Congress, despite the foreign aid requirements. The inflationary pressures on the people will make them think they need more “take home” money in their pockets; the quickest way to put it there is a tax cut.

So if there is to be one, the Administration might as well get the credit for it and save what it can of its taxation principles. But whatever compromise is made must be done without obvious political intent. The Republicans have cleverly publicized their suspicions that there were vetoes in 1947 only so a Democratic President could reap the credit in 1948.

These cries for tax reduction can be turned to an economically sound and useful purpose and remove the political suspicion at the same time. The perennial outcries for revision of our entire tax structure are even more strident than usual. Such requests are always with us, are invariably justified,


yet nothing is ever done about them. To revise the entire federal structure is not the appallingly difficult matter so many “experts” pretend it to be, because the necessary studies have been made time and time again. In fact the Treasury is revising its studies right now. Only the areas of disagreement on policy are causing the trouble that goes on year after year.

In the few months before the Congress returns the Administration can publicly initiate a study of the tax structure with a view to recommending its complete overhaul as soon as Congress convenes, including desirable reductions, if any, in the tax rates. The best approach is for a Commission of tax experts appointed by the President to advise the Administration on the matter (Such men as Randolph Paul, former General Counsel of the Treasury, who has recently written a definitive history suggesting such a tax revision, would be on the Commission. Paul’s views for instance are known to be in sympathy with those expressed in the President’s vetoes).

The President would direct his commission to investigate the entire tax area and to base their revenue recommendations on several hypotheses: (1) The estimate of surplus is correct; (2) an even larger surplus will be found in the Treasury; (3) a 1948 recession will heavily cut the tax yield: (4) there will be a Marshall Plan of four or five billion dollars annually; (5) there will be no such plan. With this approach the Administration can take credit for any tax reduction and also for initiating the tax overhaul. Although Congressional committees are already making such studies, the White House platform as usual will focus the public’s attention almost entirely on the President’s Commission study. Thus tax reduction is at worst made to seem non-artisan, and at best the Democrats get the credit for it.

c. The Mechanics for 1948.

This memorandum has made two points – (A) It is “probable” certain things will happen in 1948; and (B) A certain “course of action” must be followed to shape those probabilities to bring about the President’s election.

The question remains how to create the necessary machinery.

For without intelligent, and even devoted, execution such a program as outlines here is nothing more than a conversation piece – a pleasant finger-exercise. Much of the Democratic “politicking” is just that. The Chairman of the Illinois Democratic Committee may brag that his committee has no financial worries and in fact has more money in the till than ever in its history, and the Democratic National Committee may have relaxed in the assurance it can get sufficient funds to finance the 1948 campaign. Both organizations seem to have forgotten that the money-raising is after all only the means for a desirable end.

What kind of a mechanism will work?

Some sort of a small “working committee” (or “think” group) should be set up. Its function would be to coordinate the political program in and out of the Administration.


(This does not mean it would run all over the departments; indeed, if it works right, no one in any of the agencies will ever hear of it.)

The members of such a committee would be imaginative men with understanding of and experience in government, and with some knowledge, even if only a theoretical one of the folkways, the give-and-take of politics. To put it bluntly (although it is poor semantics to do so) they would be the counterpart of Roosevelt’s “Brain Trust” and “The Team” of Dewey.

They would be close-mouthed (the hardest requisite of all!)

Although its makeup must be flexible, in general they should not be active government administrators. This is so for two reasons: (1) the administrator is too overworked already and preoccupied with his own problems; and (2) he is invariably cursed with “the Departmental view”: his problems are vital, the most important of all, and no one else’s are. The curse of our government is that with few exceptions only the President has the overall Administration point of view. The men on the committee must be “Truman men”, thinking for the President and how the President can take political advantage of this or that program. The head of X Agency invariably tries to get everyone else immersed in X.

The first proposition for the success of such a committee is that it has access to the President – a conduit to him. This does not mean it has to see him or take up his valuable time on details. It probably means no more than that the committee representative can reach the President quickly on any subject requiring speedy action; that he must be able to talk at leisure with the President on matters requiring considerable planning and careful attention on details. It means, in short, that there be a “two-way” flow between the President and his “working committee.”

This too is really easier said than done. Certainly it requires a member of the White House secretariat as a member of the group, acting as “clearing house” and coordinator for ideas, and as Director of their execution. He would for instance have to initiate requests for research within the government on those problems which the government might properly do – and in many cases probably is the only agency which can. (There are many areas where, because of the Hatch Act and for other reasons it would be neither proper nor wise to use government energies.)

Whether the work can be performed within the framework of the Democratic National Committee depends entirely upon the temperament of the new Democratic Chairman – whether the atmosphere of his National Committee is friendly or unfriendly to this kind of planning. Based on past performance, that atmosphere will be frigid and lead to friction. This seems to be caused mainly by resentment of the professional politicians towards any kind of “planning” and their feeling (often justified) that the party funds are thrown away on “boondoggling.”

If however it could be done there and if the individual in the Committee heading up the work is really coordinated with the representative of the White House secretariat, that is the place for it. The only other way is to rely on volunteer assistance. Because of the Hatch Act the group would, then, consist of private citizens living in Washington and interested in the President and Party to devote some of


their time to such work.

What sort of work would “working committee” do?

It would, even at this early date, start the preparation of memoranda looking toward the drafting of the 1948 Platform.

It would begin assembling material for approximately ten major political speeches – the campaign speeches after the Convention. As part of this project it would draw up tentative plans for the campaign itinerary, including folders on the cities and towns to be visited, information on the industries, personages, their occupations and the past voting habits of the inhabitants.

It would create a functioning political intelligence. To illustrate, it would send out to Pennsylvania an experienced scout to find out from the politicians, the labor leaders and the citizenry why there was such a debacle in the Congressional by-election. In the future such checks would be made before the commitments, not after the event.

It would do research on the “availability” and the disadvantages of the numerous Vice-Presidential candidates. Purely for the purpose of keeping of Party interest it would stimulate a continuing interest in the subject of Vice-Presidential timber by politicians and press – thus counteracting, in part at least, the terrific publicity the Republicans are receiving free.

It would present to the President a “Monthly Estimate of the Situation” (somewhat similar to this memorandum, but scientifically based on reports and statistics and polls), informing him of recent political trends, the rise or fall of the leading Republican candidates, the disaffection or conciliation of any large social group or potent political or fraternal organization, the weakness in certain geographical areas, and so forth. The “Estimate” would include a list of recommendations as to what he should say, whom he should see, etc., for the next month. In short, it would be replacing the present haphazard hit-or-miss casual system with an intelligent political intelligence method which if used would enable the President to get ahead of and to anticipate his political problems.

It would do research on the various personalities to be involved in the campaign. There would be a Dewey expert. Everything that Dewey ever said or did, beginning with his college speeches, and continuing through his career as prosecutor, as Governor and as Presidential candidate, would be carefully reviewed to determine his inconsistencies, his mistakes and his bad guesses, as weighed in unfriendly fashion by the hindsight of 1948. There should also be a Taft expert, whether or not the Senator is a candidate. The President is running against the Taft record no matter who his opponent is. To play safe there must also be a Truman expert – a Devil’s Advocate. The President was a Senator for a long time and he has been in the White House for two and a half years. His record too must be examined with a synthetic but an active hostility to find the errors he has made or will make – and to think up the explanations for them.

The White House leader of this group would be in charge of “riding herd” on the Administration programs on housing, prices, taxes and foreign policy. This is essentially a liaison job, an “overseer” position because government administrators


in the several Departments will have the main responsibility for their execution – and administrators resent interference. Bu as these programs develop he will extract politically useful nuggets and shape them for use by the President in speeches, press conferences or statements. And he gives the President a second sight, a check on performance. The “working committee,” being advisory in character and personally disinterested, would furnish memoranda on the weaknesses, either in planning or performance, of these several programs.

The Republicans are already examining every speech ever made by the Truman Cabinet; and perhaps the “working committee” should review the past utterances of the Cabinet to make sure their own records are consistent with that of the President.

The “working committee” would set up its own private polling system similar to one used with some success in the 1940 campaign. Louis Bean, now in the Department of Agriculture, could continue his political studies on geographical areas and keep them up to date throughout the campaign. (The usefulness of the Bean approach has always been underestimated by the politicians and never properly used in a campaign.)

If the private Princeton poll can be made available to the Truman Administration (as it was to the Roosevelt Administration) tests would be made of certain questions and submitted to various groups or in certain geographical areas; these would show where hard political work is necessary. For example, the attitude toward President Truman of the Negroes in Harlem or the farmers in Iowa, or the Italians in Detroit would be scientifically checked at regular intervals. This poll was useful in the 1940 campaign; it can of course be applied to general political issues as well as to groups.

The “social experts,” the liaison agents with the labor and progressive organizations would work within the framework of this group, which would coordinate all political intelligence, including the usually accurate reports from the practical politicians to the Democratic Committee.

Another badly neglected function the “working committee” would take on is preparing answers to Republican charges. Its performance must be efficient enough so the answer will be carried in newspaper stories the same day, and not on the back pages a week or so later. This requires a precise coordination, long absent, between the government agencies which have the information, the Democratic Committee, the White House and such Administration congressional lieutenants as Leslie Biffle, Senator Barkley and former Speaker Rayburn.

When for instance the Administration is attacked on the floor a Democratic Congressman should be able to answer with facts and figures within the next few hours. And when the Republican leaders put their foot in their mouth, as they often enough did, in the last session, they should be “put on the spot” within the hour.

These are illustrative of what a good “working committee” can do. Someone must do them if there is to be success in 1948. The Presidential election is being determined now by the day-to-day events of 1947.

In national politics the American peo0ple normally make up their minds irrevocably about the two presidential candidates by the end of July.

If the program discussed here can be properly executed it may be of help in getting them to ame up their minds the right way.

James Rowe, Jr.
September 18, 1947

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