WHETHER or not to go into the elections with the McCarthy blunderbuss has been a nice question for the G.O.P. high command. Some members held their noses when “Jumping Joe" leaped into the arena. But the party chiefs supported him. It is their theory that there is no respectable way of beating a party which has got the country thoroughly “bought.” Such a hold, they say, can be dislodged only by a campaign of frightfulness. “Only by ‘mucking’ can we win,”said one leader, “and only a mucker can muck.”
The 40-year-old McCarthy is certainly no leader to be proud of. His whole record in the Senate has been reprehensible. Most observers think that he drove former Senator Raymond Baldwin of Connecticut out of public life by his vilification of Baldwin over the Malmédy incident. McCarthy had accused the Americans in Germany of running a concentration camp in that country where they took it out on the incarcerated Germans. The charges of course got wide publicity in Germany and had a bad effect on American prestige.
A subcommittee under Senator Baldwin found them baseless after exhaustive investigation. But evidence means nothing to McCarthy, and he harried Senator Baldwin without mercy. He had another field day at the expense of Secretary Matthews in the cases of Admiral Denfeld and Captain Crommelin.
But these sorties were merely curtain-raisers for his war against the State Department. And the damage he has done with this campaign has been tremendous — in taking up the time of the Senate, in lowering the morale of the public service, in depressing the nation’s standing abroad, and in handicapping Secretary Acheson.
In early March the indications were that Secretary Acheson would have to quit. It is known that he put his resignation up to President Truman. It was then clear that the Democratic leaders regarded Acheson as expendable, if only because of his intervention in the Hiss case. However, the very extravagance of the McCarthy onslaught made resignation out of the question.
Yet the fight is one-sided. For, though Secretary Acheson cannot be allowed to resign, others below him in the department, as well as officials elsewhere, arc quitting. Furthermore, many able persons are refusing to join the public service, out of fear of future outbreaks.
Toequeville once warned of the anti-intellectualism that might develop in a democratic society. This is now in fine flower. To men as rabid as McCarthy, whose favorite epithet is “a twisted intellectual,” intellectualism covers something that is either queer or subversive. The result has been to cast doubt upon the whole working of the State Department and to weaken its initiative.
The French move for peace
Secretary Acheson was caught completely off base by the Schuman plan for an industrial union with German heavy industry. He had not taken with him any experts on the problem. Even John Foster Dulles, his Republican adviser, was left behind. Nobody knows more about this subject than Dulles. Capital observers with long memories were reminded of the bombshell which Charles Evans Hughes dropped at the opening meeting of the Washington Conference on the Limitation of Armaments in 1921.
It is felt that the Schuman plan may arrest the drift to war which was evident when Secretary Acheson went to Europe. The war party in America is still strong, but this is diversion they dare not challenge. It might indeed restore a sense of proportion in the military-minded State Department; even Mr. Acheson has a feeling that the cold war must be put on a permanent basis for purposes of policy-making. A diplomatic correspondent put the matter more delicately when he said, “The iron curtain is slowly but surely being drawn across quite a few influential minds.”
The logic of the pursuit of a cold war is to intensify it. It requires the assertion of initiative, and this is the prime aim of Secretary Acheson. First of all, however, he wanted to get his colleagues in Europe to agree upon the principle of loyally to a common North Atlantic policy.
In those circumstances constructive ideas looking to peace, which at the same time would develop “positions of strength,” are bound to catch the Administration flat-footed. This occurred not only in the case of the Schuman plan. It had previously occurred when Bidault suggested the organization of an Atlantic High Council of Peace for systematizing or organizing Article II of the North Atlantic Pact. This is the article, of Canadian inspiration, for the dovetailing of the economic policies of the signatories.
Will military aid increase?
The emphasis of the North Atlantic Pact is, of course, on its military aspect. Here there is a complete integration of minds among the military commanders of the Atlantic nations. Some might say that military mind attracts military mind. At any rate, to see them working together in the Pentagon, passing their governments’ orders around, discussing together how to deal with them, is to see a demonstration of sublimated nationality. A great example for the civilian mind! It is of course a response to the prerequisite of integration that Congress attached to appropriations for the arms program.
Now the Europeans feel that the appropriations are not big enough for the purpose of building up Europe’s military strength. So far only trial balloons have been forthcoming. What the American response will be depends, of course, upon the international atmosphere next year. But if the present feeling prevails, the outlook is not rosy.
Objectors range from the growing number of “isolationists" in the Republican camp to members of both parties who are frankly alarmed over the prospect that economic recovery in Europe is likely to be hampered by and subordinated to preoccupation with arms. They include those who are ever watchful against the growth of a garrison state and the economy-minded. History shows that there is no end to military aid when the military are in the saddle.
The long arm of John L. Lewis
Deep in the public memory is the holdup of the community staged from time to time by John L. Lewis’s United Mine Workers. Now there is no further occasion to pin the blame on any other shoulders than Lewis’s. He exculpated himself from responsibility for the last walkout by demonstrating that he had given a back-to-work notice himself. Then the president of one of the UMW locals let the cat out of the bag — as embarrassingly as the wife of one of the victims of the Baltic plane disaster did when she said her husband had written to her that he was on a secret mission.
The union official told the reporters that John L. “gave one signal for the court and public, and another for the men.”He was, of course, penalized by the union with a fine and an ouster, and this in turn raised a question about the man’s constitutional rights, for the upshot of both penalties would have been deprivation of his means of livelihood.
The ousted union official seems to have been induced to make a partial retraction. But the retraction did not come until a House subcommittee had set up an inquiry. The late Representative John Lesinski refused to sign a subpoena to bring Lewis before the subcommittee; but Representative Graham A. Barden, who succeeds Mr. Lesinski as chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee, may take a different view.
The full details of this extraordinary evidence of the Lewis despotism are the due, of course, of both the courts and the suffering public. The subcommittee is looking into undemocratic practices of labor unions. The mine workers incident casts a revealing light on the injustice that is possible under the closed-shop principle in labor unions. If a victim can be denied access to work at the whim of a union chieftain, what happens to his civil rights?
Lawyers are uncertain about the connection with civil rights in such a case. But to the layman there is a link, moral or legal. The affected section of the statutes says that if “two or more persons conspire to injure, oppress, threaten, or intimidate any citizen in the free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege not denied to him by the Constitution or the laws of the United States,” then they shall be liable to prosecution. For the present, the legislative aim is to get to the bottom of an unhealthylooking situation which smacks more of totalitarian Russia than of free America.
A limit to rent control?
Passions have been aroused over the President’s request for another year of rent control. In this case the powerful real-estate lobby against any extension has been aided by the desire of freeenterprisers to wind up wartime controls. On this score there is justifiable anxiety. For, as the French experience shows, it is literally impossible after a certain lapse of time to get rid of rent controls. In France, of course, prices have soared to such heights that rents are left almost nominal by comparison.
In America the lag between controlled rents and other prices is not so formidable. But it is enough to make adjustments to a free economy difficult, as well as to demonstrate discrimination against landlords. It is because of the fear of adjustments upward of rents that renters are ranged alongside the Administration move for an extension of controls.
The fact is that decontrol has been proceeding quietly. This can be done under the law either by Federal relaxation or by action of state or local authorities. Within the past year Virginia, Texas, Nebraska, and Alabama have removed such control by state action; Utah and Arizona by local action; and Wisconsin and New York by state substitutes.
In this manner the number of rental units subject to Federal control has dropped from 14 million to 8 million. But this gradual disappearance has not satisfied the free-enterprisers. Not content with opposing a year’s extension, they persuaded the House Appropriations Committee to deny the Federal authority a deficiency appropriation, thus limiting the administration of the act. This was notice enough of Congressional impatience.
Wiser counsels now seem to be in vogue. Representative Spence has proposed a compromise whereby Federal control would be extended for another year with the important proviso that if local authorities do not take affirmative action requesting continuance of control, it will be dropped on January 1.
The compromise has a double usefulness. In addition to jogging the local authorities to declare themselves, it sets a terminal date. What the local and state authorities need is time to prepare for an adjustment which they seem united in saying could not be furnished if the Federal law was to lapse this June.
Mood of the Capital
The mood of the Capital is plainly exasperated. House Republicans led a runaway assault on the bureaucracy with an axe which, if the damage had not been restrained, would have cut out a good deal of the efficiency remaining in government. No fewer than 200,000 jobs would have been sacrificed.
This is the penalty of blindly amending an omnibus appropriation bill on the floor. Without a doubt the bureaucracy is top-heavy, but if the government is going to be allowed to function at all, the pruning knife is the only possible instrument of economy, and the trimming should be done in the appropriations committees.
In the Senate there is an abnormal amount of time devoted to the merrygo-round of election politics. McCarthyism at one time had reduced the Democrats to impotence. They saw millions of votes at stake, and the mail seemed to be freighted with warnings that McCarthy had “got something.” But how to counter McCarthyism without sticking their necks out was a first-class dilemma.
Equally confused were the Republicans as they waited for McCarthy to hit pay dirt. Hopes ran high. Where there is one Hiss, there must be another, was the theory. But as the days went by and nothing was really proved, Republican chiefs tried to cover their tracks, and one by one dropped off the McCarthy bandwagon.
They may have to return now to less spectacular ways of getting control of the next Congress. There is an abundance of issues on which a Republican opposition could carry weight to any person who is susceptible to argument.
As yet the gesture to bipartisanship is more formal than substantial. The dominating influence in Republican counsels on the Hill is Senator Taft, and he is moving further and further into an isolationist shell. Realization of this fact was behind the effort to corral Senator Bridges. But this move struck a snag on the Democratic side, Senator Connally and his colleagues feeling that this was a sure way of presenting Bridges with a wealth of headlines at election time.
Neither Truman nor Acheson had anticipated this objection, so the olive branch to Bridges now looks faded. However, the isolationist effort to gut foreign aid was ably beaten back by a handful of Republican internationalists led by Senator Lodge.