September 2, 1933 - Article - Kaleidoscope, by Samuel G. Blythe

Money, of course, is the main objective. Government money. States and cities struggling to get shares of it. Organizations, corporations, individuals scheming to grab it, either directly or by the indirection of government assistance and complaisance; grab it by any possible means, from petty jobs to R.F.C. and N.I.R.A. billions; for influence, for information, for partisan purposes.

Gold money. Silver money. Any kind of money. Thar's gold in that thar treasury. Billions are to be spent to regiment and collectivize our industry, our transportation, our distribution, our agriculture, our employment, our capitalism, our lives.

Small wonder they come flocking in, and have been coming in since the New Dealer entered the White House. Self-preservation, you know, and as much as possible on the side.

The Old Deal was much dissimilar to the New Deal. Inside there sits the President, who, having proclaimed the New Deal within five minutes after Chief Justice Hughes administered the oath of office to him last March fourth, is not subletting much of the deal, but is mostly dealing himself. (pg. 5)

He sits at his desk ready to meet all the comers when the correspondents arrive twice a week, a hundred or so in calm times and more than that when big news is on tap, and the correspondents range themselves around him. The written question plan is abolished.

The correspondents fire in their questions and the President answers them, or does not, as the case demands. When he has an explanation to make, or a bearing to impart that he does not want printed, he explains it fully, but cautions that what he says is "off the record." As he served for years in Washington as Secretary of the Navy, he knows many of the correspondents; and when one he does know asks him a question he always calls him by his first name: "Well, Jimmie," or, "I'll tell you, Tom," and so on.

Then, in May, after years when only a few of the correspondents were invited to the White House save to the big receptions, the entire corps got invitations to come there one Saturday night at 9:30, and bring their wives, and there was a party. There were two orchestras for dancing. There was a fine buffet supper, and the President sat in his chair and greeted and beamed on everybody, and a good time was had by all; also an unusual time, for such a party as that was never held before in Washington.

Newspaper wives who never before got into the White House save at stuffy, formal receptions, put on their prettiest frocks, danced on the polished floor of the big East Room, and had the time of lives. Why wonder at President Roosevelt's good press? Politics of its sort? Certainly. Very good politics too. Some of that sort of politics would have been very useful to President Hoover, for instance; for, when all is said and done, writing people are human beings notwithstanding a certain disposition in political and statesman and other ax-grinding affiliated quarters to think otherwise. (pg. 6)

Kaleidoscope. The Brain Trust, which isn't a brain trust at all and is, a newspaper designation, and, second, a lot of Rooseveltian trusted brains. A bunch of professors hauled from their classrooms and thrust into the maelstrom of the New Deal. Very self-conscious; ardent seekers after publicity for themselves now that they have a chance to get it; eager self-expressionists basking like cats before a fireplace in their new distinctions; all ex cathedra and mostly as verbose as Dickens; for example, the one who was assigned to rewrite and condense a short section of an act and after a week of intensive labor turned in condensation of 500 words that counted up to 8000 words. Back of them all was the sagacious Felix Frankfurter, advising, counseling, but staying out of the spotlight. The professors, to whom the accolade is what the newspaper men call the "by-line." "By" So-and-So, a most pleasing sight on the printed page.

George Peek, who is administrator of the tremendous farm-recovery program, a smooth-shaven, tanned, keen-eyed and alert fellow. He has been a manufacturer for farmers, an organizer for farmers, and a representative of organized farmers for a long time. These experiences did not operate against his picking up some politics on the side. He will not cuss out so many of his pesterers as Johnson. Peek has other methods. (pg. 7)

Thomas W. Lamont, the Morgan partner, strolling into the breakfast room one morning and telling his famous deaf story. He went to a reunion of his class at Harvard and found himself sitting at a table next to a man he had not seen since they graduated.

"Well, old scout," said Lamont as an opening conversational gambit, "how has the world been treating you?"

"Pretty fair, but I'm so darned deaf I can't hear anything."

"Ever do anything about it?" asked Lamont.

"Oh yes. I went to a doctor and he told me if I'd quit drinking I'd hear better."

"Did you try it?"

"Yes, but I found that what I drank was so much better than what I heard that I took up drinking again." (pg. 54)

Propaganda. Just as every Executive Department maintains its own system of espionage, far wider in its ramifications than most Americans suspect, so each maintains its public relations experts, vulgarly known as press agents. And the New Deal demanded publicity. Hence, hordes of new press agents busily turning out tons of duplicated statements: Explanations, clarifications, exculpations, reservations, glorifications, and substantiations. Good jobs, too, and well filled. Of late years Washington became a prodigious official producer of what the newspaper trade calls "black sheet stuff." Now Washington is deluged with it. Head press agents, assistant press agents, special press agents, and mere journeyman press agents. The carbon paper, duplicating machine, and typewriter industries should be looking up. The public must be informed, and the New Deal and the new dealers justified.

One and all are writing, talking over radio, going on the news reels, syndicating, propagandizing, promulgating, publicizing themselves and their own projects. The old town is vocal and auctorial from the Navy Yard to Chevy Chase.

As somewhat of an answer to what it is all about, one of the keenest of the Washington observers calls attention to a little-publicized speech by Doctor Tugwell, Assistant Secretary of Agriculture, who is copious in his explanations and authoritative to the extent, at least, of not having been officially restrained, with this brief paraphrase of the main points of that speech:

"Competitive was necessary in the days when production was difficult. So government became a policeman to ‘compel conflict.' This frustrated the creative zeal. It compelled business confusion.

"Now competition is no longer necessary, because there is potential overproduction. The new problem now is not economic development, but economic maintenance. Enterprises cannot act for preservation. Enterprises need government intervention to compel coöperation, which is essential to preservation, to eliminate anarchy.

"Hence all the new laws under Roosevelt, a ‘coöperationist.' Constitution violated? No. Congress enacted the laws, the President merely executes and administers them. Constitutional law changes pattern from time to time, it is merely ‘the then current theory.'" (pg. 55)

Comments: Do you really think that the framers of the Constitution meant by saying, in Article I, Section 1, that, "All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States," meant that Congress merely voted on laws written by other people in the Executive branch of the Federal Government? Did the framers mean that Congress didn't have to write any of the legislation; they didn't have to read, study, or debate any of the legislation they sponsor which is written by others outside the halls of Congress; all they had to do was just show up and vote? That's what the framers meant? We can see that FDR is using his inheritance very well to gain support with the press and the people too. George Peek later resigned his post and turned against the New Deal when he realized the New Deal was destroying the American constitutional system. Felix Frankfurter was one of the leaders of the Brain Trust that was writing legislation in violation of the Constitution. The President is granted no legislative powers and therefore has no authority to delegate legislative powers to other people. Guess where Frankfurter eventually ended up? FDR appointed him to the Supreme Court in January, 1939. He sat on the court for over 23 years. If we look at Frankfurter's biography on the www.oyez web site, we read: "Frankfurter earned a reputation as an expert in constitutional law and federal jurisdiction." Saying that Frankfurter was "an expert in constitutional law" is about the same as saying that the most qualified people to guard bank vaults are armed robbers. Frankfurter was an expert in legal fiction so that unconstitutional laws could be given a legal appearance. Now we can see how the Supreme Court, as brought out in The Hundred Days article (Aug. 12), got its "new mind." Samuel G. Blythe was an American author and editor (1868 - 1947).

Back to Old Weekly Press Table of Contents