General Articles

BACKSTAGE AT OTTAWA

How (gulp) to Pick a Leader

THE MAN WITH A NOTEBOOK August 1 1948
General Articles

BACKSTAGE AT OTTAWA

How (gulp) to Pick a Leader

THE MAN WITH A NOTEBOOK August 1 1948

BACKSTAGE AT OTTAWA

How (gulp) to Pick a Leader

THE MAN WITH A NOTEBOOK

IN BOTH the older parties these days, all the talk is about new leadership. The Liberals' problem is out in the open and relatively simple. Since J. L. Ilsley's retirement, the number one candidate is Louis S. St. Laurent. Had Mr. Ilsley consented to run, he could probably have carried the Liberal convention. But now the only real opponent to Mr. St. Laurent is Hon. Jimmy Gardiner; Hon. Jimmy is a resourceful and tenacious fighter who should never be counted out in advance, but this time the odds are against him.

There may be other candidates before the convention for the first ballot or two. Some Liberal strategists think it would be better not to let it develop as a straight two-man fight, for fear it might break down into English versus French. They’ve asked several people, including Premier Garson of Manitoba and Right Hon. C. D. Howe, to be ready to run in order to break up the English vote on the first ballot. This would give Mr. St. Laurent a commanding lead and thus create a “St. Laurent band wagon”; the front runners would then drop out in his favor.

Other Liberals think this is all nonsense, that no one should run who doesn’t seriously intend to win.

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FOR opposite reasons, Premier Angus Macdonald of Nova Scotia might be an early contender. He couldn’t carry the convention, and presumably knows it, but he dislikes Mr. St. Laurent and would like to see him defeated. Mr. Macdonald might figure on splitting the English Catholic vote and then throwing his support to Gardiner or anyone else that seemed to have a chance of beating St. Laurent.

These opponents draw hope from the fact that St. Laurent is not well-known outside Central Canada and is inept at making himself known to strangers. Last January he made a trip to Manitoba for a couple of speeches to first-class audiences. It was a golden opportunity, so westerners thought, of ingratiating himself in a new territory; all he had to do was a little handshaking, a little informal and friendly talking. To their dismay, the Minister of External Affairs greeted each audience with a ponderous mimeographed text which he read word for word. He left his auditors edified but cold.

Farther west, Liberals complain that they’ve never seen their prospective leader at all. “Even the radio announcers out here can’t pronounce his name,” a Regina man said sourly.

With Ilsley running, these disadvantages could have been lethal. As it is, they probably won’t cut much ice. Here’s what St. Laurent has in his favor: Unanimous support of the Cabinet, no member of which wants Jimmy Gardiner as leader. Even in these days of party rebellion, the Cabinet still has influence.

Unanimous support of French Canada—74 seats in Quebec and about 20 outside. That recurrent story of anti-St. Laurent feeling among Quebec Liberals is poppycock; its source is a handful of disaffected French-Canadian politicians who now are trying to climb in the St. Laurent band wagon with everyone else.

Strong support in urban Ontario, where C. D. Howe is a power. Mr. Howe, often mentioned for the leadership himself, is 100% a St. Laurent man.

Considerable support in the West. Premier Garson and Ralph May bank, the leading Winnipeg M.P., will see that he has a good deal of backing from Manitoba; Walter Tucker, the Saskatchewan Liberal leader, may even swing Jimmy Gardiner’s own Saskatchewan into the St. Laurent camp.

And, stronger than all this spotty regional backing, will be the realization by sober Liberals that the rejection of St. Laurent at this point would be regarded, in Quebec, as a deliberate affront to the race and religion of French Canadians; the great block of Quebec seats, on which the Liberals have depended since 1896, would be lost to the party for a generation at least. St. Laurent might lose the next election, say these Liberals; anyone else would certainly lose it and smash the party to boot.

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NOT the Liberals but the Progressive Conservatives have the real leadership problem. Tories are facing their sorest dilemma since 1895: How to get rid of John Bracken before the next election. Opinion within the party is now unanimous that

Bracken must go. Even the faithful inner circle of “Bracken men” have given up. They know Mr. Bracken can’t win the next election; they believe a strong Conservative leader could win it, for the Liberal Party appears to be crumbling to pieces before their eyes.

Some Conservatives have a simple answer to the problem of how to induce Mr. Bracken to retire: “Buy him out.” One M.P., after a flying trip to Montreal and Toronto, declared he could raise a Bracken Retirement Fund of $100,000 on 24 hours’ notice. Nothing happened. Lately, rumor says the ante has been doubled and that $200,000 is now available.

Soberer heads in the party realize this isn’t the whole solution. Mere provision for Mr. Bracken’s future is no problem anyway—a few company directorships would settle that. The real trouble lies much deeper.

Mr. Bracken is said to retain an ambition not unusual in leaders of the Opposition: He wants to

be Prime Minister of Canada. He knows quite well he can’t win a majority of Parliament’s 255 seats, but he’s equally sure nobody else can. He thinks t he only possible government after the next election will be a coalition against the CCF.

Mr. Bracken regards himself as an expert at coalition. In 1927 he merged the Manitoba Progressives and Liberals; in 1940 he performed the unique feat of an all-party coalition Liberals, Progressives, Conservatives, CCF and Social Credit all rolled up into one patchwork Cabinet. The CCF and Social Crediters got out when Mr. Bracken entered federal politics, but the Liberals and Conservatives are still pulling in double harness; Mr. Bracken’s latest victory within his own party was the defeat, at a party convention in Winnipeg, of a determined attempt to smash the Garson-Willis coalition.

With this experience, Mr. Bracken considers himself the logical choice for Prime Minister of a coalition government. At worst, he’d count on being Minister of Agriculture, chief lieutenant and likely successor of a Liberal Prime Minister. These expectations make him very reluctant to leave the Progressive Conservative leadership.

And however much his followers may want to get him out, they can’t do it without his consent. If they were to force him out, they’d brand themselves as “a nest of traitors” and the new leader as an ambitious cutthroat. Probably no candidate, and certainly not Premier George Drew, would accept the leadership under such circumstances. Mr. Bracken’s removal would have to be an abdication and he would have to give his open and hearty

support to whatever usual, much of the business of lining up delegates for this or that candidate was done in smoke-filled hotel rooms. But there was no small group of men in control. There were not even many s ta te -wid e bosses.

Continued on page 52

Washington Memo

Continued from page 14

Excepting perhaps Governor Dewey and his campaign managers, the happiest man at the conclusion of the Republican convention was, 1 think, Senator Arthur Vandenberg. He had made it clear by his actions that he really didn’t want the nomination himself and that he would accept it only to prevent the choice of an isolationist.

Vandenberg got exactly what he wanted in the foreign policy section of the Republican platform. He got Dewey, who is entirely satisfactory to him* although he would have been satisfied also with Harold E. Stansen or Governor Warren,

And, finally, he was able to block the nomination of an isolationist for the vice-presidency. In this last effort, he had plenty of help including, ironically, that of his most violent enemy. Col. McCormick, publisher of the Chicago Tribune.

At one point in the convention, the Dewey managers were ready to promise the vice-presidential nomination to Governor Green of Illinois in return for a large bloc of votes for Dewey. McCormick, to whom Dewey is only slightly less obnoxious than VandenIx-rg. vetoed the “deal” which would have put his protege, Green, in the vice-presidency. He was still hoping to nominate Taft or MacArthur. Quite apart from Green’s ties to the arch isolationist McCormick and his indifferent record as Governor of Illinois, there was another reason why this “deal” might have been embarrassing to the Republicans, it was easy to see that; the Democrats would joyously proclaim that “Dewey and Green” appropriately characterized the Republican ticket. (In 1936, when Aif Landon won the Republican presidential nomination, a plan to award the second place to Senator Styles Bridges of New Hampshire foundered on the suggestion that the Democratic campaign taunt would be “Landen Bridges falling down.”)

The increment of votes necessary for Dewey’s nomination finally came from the internationalist wing of the party—from delegates pledged to Vandenberg, Warren, and Senator Baldwin of Connecticut. And they did not come until Dewey had given assurances that he had promised second place on the ticket to no one and that the vicepresidential nominee would be chosen only after consultation with party leaders, and especially Vandenberg. Vandenberg contented himself with ruling out all the isolationist candidates. He approved the choice of Warren, although he would have been fully as pleased if the nod had gone to Stassen.

Dewey’s principal adviser on foreign policy in the 1944 campaign and since —John Foster Dulles—has worked in close and harmonious partnership with Vandenberg throughout this period. Dulles and Vandenberg have seen alike on almost, every important foreign policy problem. If, as is expected, Dulles becomes Dewey’s Secretary of State, this partnership will have the full backing of the White House.

In view of the troubled state of the world, there should be close liaison during the campaign between Dewey and the Department of State. The obvious agents are Dulles and Vandenberg, with whom Secretary of State Marshall has consulted regularly in the past. Perhaps before this is read, steps will have been taken to assure that the major moves in the foreign field between now and the election are made with bi-partisan approval.

As to the operation of the European Recovery Program, Dewey’s and Warren’s public declarations have been in complete accord with those of Vandenberg, Paul Hoffman, EGA administrator, and W. Averell Hamman, Hoffman’s chief representative in Europe. As to international trade, Dewey and Warren, on the record, are even closer than Vandenberg to the Administration viewpoint. Both advocated straight-out three-year extension of the Reciprocal Trade Agreements Act, whereas Congress voted only a one-year extension with restrictive amendments.

The primary divergence between the Dewey-Warren foreign policy line and the Administration’s is with respect to China. The Republicans stand for stronger support of Chiang Kai-shek.

In the domestic arena, Dewey symbolizes enlightened conservatism and honest and efficient administration. His running mate, Governor Warren, is the most progressive man the Republican Party has nominated for national office since Theodore Roosevelt-—not even excepting Wendell Willkie. His views on conservation, reclamation, public power and social insurance are similar to Franklin Roosevelt’s. He favors publicly subsidized housing and many other measures which in the eyes of right-wing Democrats and Republicans are dangerously “socialistic.”

If Warren’s record had been better known to some of the big financial backers of the Republican Party-—or if they had had time to get into action —his nomination for the vice-presidency would have been strenuously opposed. But many things that Warren has said and done as Governor of California have scarcely been noticed east of the Rockies.

Warren was the only candidate placed in nomination at Philadelphia who vigorously criticized the record of Congress under Republican leadership during the last 18 months. He said flatly, on arriving in Philadelphia, that Congress ought to come back after the national conventions and “finish its job.” He is a refreshingly forthright man with a warm personality. Dewey’s assurance that Warren is not to be just the presiding officer of the Senate—the only duty assigned by the constitution to the vice-president-—Rut is to sit in his Cabinet and be his partner in administrative work and policy formulation, will help Warren to attract independent voters and progressive Democrats to the Republican ticket. Warren is the only Governor of California, or of any other major state, who has ever won the nomination for governor from both major parties. He succeeded in doing this in 1946, by popular vote, in open primaries.

Taken as a whole, the Republican conclave at Philadelphia this year was the most interesting of the II major party national conventions thi correspondent has attended—exceptiuj only the Democratic convention o 1932 at which Franklin D. Roosevel won his first presidential nomination At both, one felt one was watching th election, as well as the nomination of a President. Only a miracle coul have prevented a Democratic ticke! whatever its composition, from win ning in November, 1932, just as onli a miracle can prevent the Republican from winning this year.

The Critical Moments

In each of these contests there m an important spur-of-the-moment de cisión to recess the convention. A Chicago it came after an all-nigh session, during which Roosevelt ha: gained but was Istill short of the goai

During the recess John Nam Garner, then Speaker of the House who held the Texas and Californii delegations, decided to throw in hi hand in favor of Roosevelt. On th next ballot after the recess, Roosevell was nominated—and on the followin| day Garner was chosen as his runnins mate.

At the Republican conclave thij year, the important spur-of-the-mo ment decision on the floor came aft« the second ballot when Dewey stood ¿ 515 votes, 33 short of the requisiti majority. Senator Taft’s campaigi manager, Rep. Clarence Brown, move! a recess, and the managers of the oth« principal rivals to Dewey seconded it On a voice vote, the Dewey delegate shouted a mighty “No.” The convec tion chairman, Joseph W. Martin, Ji said he was unable to decide whethfi the “Ayes” or “Nays” had it a® ordered a roll-call vote. At that mo ment, J. Russell Sprague, one «j Dewey’s principal lieutenants, at nounced that the New York delegatio! (Dewey’s cornerstone) had no objet tion to a recess. The rank and file ß Dewey delegates elsewhere gasped bu obediently followed his lead.

The recess vindicated Sprague judgment. He knew that Dewey ws the second or third choice of Californii (Warren), Michigan (Vandenberg), art Connecticut (Baldwin). Baldwin ws about to withdraw, and, given an hou or so for conferring, Sprague though that the others might follow. He ws right. When the convention reeot vened after dinner, Dewey was nomir ated by unanimous vote.

Dewey has the most skilful team c political managers that any candidal in either party has had in many year And he can also call on good admit istrators, proved in the New Yor State Government. Perhaps none them will be appointed to his cabine if he is elected, but they could be « great assistance to him in taking bo; of the massive and extremely compk federal executive branch, it