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Washington Notes

I am afraid to make any prediction about the adjournment of Congress. Some weeks ago along with everybody else I felt convinced the session would not be prolonged beyond the middle of June. Here it is close to the end of the month and there is just as much uncertainty about the final date as there was. It may have ended by the time this is in print and it may continue on to the last of July. The bald fact is there is no stable leadership in the majority party in Washington, The feebleness of the White House is reflected in the Senate and the compactness and control exercised by the Longworth machine in the House is rendered ineffectual because of the lack of clear comprehension at the top. The House leaders could do what they want if they knew exactly what it is, but they don’t. Twice now it has been announced that Senate and House leaders had agreed on a program and adjournment fixed for a certain date and twice, on the following day, Mr. Madden or some other committee chairman has kicked the plans to pieces.

The placidity of the good Calvin, however, is not disturbed either by the hash made of his recommendations for legislative action or by the embarrassment of Mr. Mellon and his Pennsylvania friends in having the dreadfully intimate and expensive details of their unfortunate little fight in Pennsylvania laid bare to the public gaze.

He has recently entertained at the White House several friendly and appreciative magazine writers, taken down on the Mayflower two or three of our leading publishers who had not had their turn, and extended luncheon hospitality to a couple of agricultural editors from the Middle West, No secret is made around the Executive offices of the Presidential desire to get Congress off his hands and to have Washington to himself, as he did last summer. Then the cozy twice-a-week conferences with the correspondents at the White House loom larger through lack of news competition.

There will, however, I am told, not be quite as large a group of correspondents accompanying the Presidential party to the Kirkwood camp in the Adirondacks this summer as gathered at Swampscott a year ago and this fact is rather resented by the little group of Massachusetts claque-claque boys who hover around the White House and whose political association with Mr. Coolidge before he became Vice-President enables them to qualify as “insiders.” These fellows jealously watch for any signs of diminishing interest upon the part of the press in the President and arc disposed to look upon any lack of eagerness to join the Presidential summer entourage as savoring of unfriendliness on the part of some and disloyalty on the part of others. The frame of mind into which some of these claque-claque boys work themselves over little things like this is really surprising. So far as the White House is concerned this is an administration of small suspicions and it is really astounding the insignificant and trivial things around which some of the grudges are built. It is not altogether a sweet atmosphere in which to live and so far as I have heard there will be few volunteers among the “corps of correspondents” for the Kirkwood Kamp this summer. Those who go will be drafted. Still it will be a goodly number at that.

The great American public is certainly a curious creature. Two years ago the oil scandal left it cold. The exposure of the dreadful doings under Daugherty in the Department of Justice failed to stir up any excitement. Last year the utterly indefensible attitude of the saintly Mr. Mellon toward the investigation of his Aluminum Corporation hardly created a ripple. In fact the harder the Democrats and Progressives hammered, the more noble and patriotic Mr. Mellon seemed to the people and the only popular result was resentment over an unjustified attack upon a great man.

And then just when the conviction gets thoroughly set that it is impossible any longer really to arouse anybody over any kind of political or governmental misconduct, along comes the Pennsylvania primary exposure and proves it all wrong. Because there is not the slightest question but that in every part of the country the facts concerning the huge expenditure in that state under the direction of Mr. Mellon and his family have thoroughly sunk in. No one thinks there is any political motive in the exposure. The country knows that an effort was made to buy an election by flooding a state with money to an extent never before dreamed of in this or any other country, and the public knows that the sort of thing which Mr. Mellon, his family and his friends permitted to be done in his state, was neither patriotic nor pure, that it was calculated to bring our whole political system into disrepute and destroy confidence of the average citizen in his government. No great public outcry has been made about it, but reports brought to Washington from various sections in the last week leave no doubt that people generally have taken the lesson to heart. It has sunk in in a way the oil scandals and the Aluminum Corporation case utterly failed to do. The interesting thing is that here at the end of the session dear old Mr. Mellon’s reputation instead of being enhanced has dwindled. Neither he nor Senator Reed—it is not worth while to talk about Pepper—will ever be politically quite the same impeccable and powerful personages they were before. They have been irretrievably damaged. This Pennsylvania business has soaked into the people. There is not a politician in Washington who does not know it.

The most interesting rumor in Washington this week concerns the Vice-President, the Hon. Mr. Dawes. Those who usually know what is what say that the Dawes plans this summer do not include many weeks of idleness in Illinois and a trip to Europe. Nor will he go—or be invited—to visit Mr. Coolidge inthe Adirondacks. The breach between the two is too complete now for anyone to ignore. What Mr. Dawes has in mind, it is said, is a tour of the corn belt states, on which he will at various points address the farmers. The idea is, so it is contended, still further to augment the friendly feelings Western agriculturists have come to entertain toward the Vice-President as a result of his interest in and advocacy of the principle of the equalization fee, which is the backbone and bottom of the Haugen bill. It will, it is declared, be a very good summer for Mr. Dawes to make this sort of tour. Ex-Governor Lowden will be in Europe, Mr. Coolidge will be vocal only as the Presidential Spokesman, and he will have no competition. Of course plans of this kind for the summer may not be in the Dawes mind at all, but such is the report—and I submit it is not without interest.


This article originally ran in the July 7, 1926 issue of the magazine.