“If It Isn’t Fun.” – Politics, Henry Wallace, and Harold Stassen
I had counted on my father’s Emory friend, Jim Dombrowski, to introduce me to Henry Wallace, but Jim didn’t show up for the first Wallace speech on campus. The turnout of Tulane students was superb, but hecklers outside the hall asked people for their “party cards,” and two pretty coed idiots paraded about in red coats and sucked large red suckers. The audience inside was, nevertheless, attentive.
Wallace was brilliant, pulling no punches. In the evening public talk half the audience was Negro, a rare sight in New Orleans or at Tulane. Spotlights played on displays calling for defeat of the Taft-Hartley Labor Bill. A dramatic voice shouted over the sound system, introducing the warm-up speakers, one a suffragette-type woman and another a Negro Baptist preacher. The latter, with great oratory, spewed venom of the downtrodden. All contributed to a colorful and diverse mass meeting, which, in turn, created excitement on campus for the coming presidential campaign.
Wallace is powerfully built and carries himself in a characteristic Lincolnesque posture, hands in coat pockets and shoulders extended, head down with its prominent shock of greying hair. He walked the French Quarter with friends afterwards, where I heard him ask, “Now, are we parallel to the river here?” Profound.
His message: aid to the starving and homeless in Europe, with immediate action and without the Marshall Plan’s binding commitment to oppose Russia. He decries our failure to import a major quota of displaced persons from Europe, our aid of “reactionary regimes” in China and Southern Europe, and our fear-hate campaigns with infringement on civil liberties by the Taft-Hartley Act and House Un-American Committee investigations. He was particularly tired, he said, of the communists getting credit for all the progressive legislation and movements in this country today.
I was left with a firm impression of his sincerity as well as the validity of his tenets, but with unrest at his floundering and lack of clear approaches to real solutions.
Here are a few of his definitions:
“A liberal is one who considers the dollar and man, but in the case of conflict between the two, takes the man.
A radical is one who considers only the man.
A reactionary is one who considers only the dollar.”
Stassen talked the next night before the Foreign Policy Association. He seems a not-too-bright but sincere midwesterner, campaigning hard for the presidential nomination as a “liberal Republican.” His views on Russian policy, a bipartisan foreign recovery program, and voluntary controls on wages, etc. were well received by the upscale New Orleans Democrats. In fact, the ambitious, silk-stockinged Democrat mayor, deLesseps Story Morrison, introduced him to the audience with some fanfare.
December 7 Pearl Harbor Day Six Years Later
For some reason I was anxious all week long. I’ve also had sudden attacks of tinnitus in my left ear, with slight vertigo on rapid head movements. Could it be conversion? More likely labyrinthitis.
Haughty ol’ Surgeon Maes interviewed me today for the American Hospital of Paris internship, thumbing through his daily mail as he diffidently asked me a few banal questions. Saying that he considered it his responsibility only, “to see where you part your hair,” he had little interest in my motives for seeking the position. But I was just as happy not to deliver my standard weak speech, “Why I Want to Study in Paris.”
The French Consul of New Orleans spoke at Tulane today, for Pearl Harbor Day, followed by columnist Marquis Child, who vividly portrayed the character and characteristics of the peoples of France, Poland, Greece, and Germany.
Tonight I had a date with a new nurse cadet, M, to see the Italian movie, “Shoeshine.” Both were quite interesting.