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John F. Petrone

A Case of “Malicious Gossip”

(5 January 1948)

From The Militant, Vol. XII No. 1, 5 January 1948, p. 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

General Eisenhower is getting a bum deal, and all his friends are springing to his defense. Even those who don’t have much use for the general must concede, in the interests of fair play, that he is the victim of one of the worst frameups in political history.

It’s tough enough for a man to be Chief of Staff while he is running for president. Other candidates whose hats are flying through the air but have not yet landed in the ring, can at least engage openly in politics, and get off as many political speeches as they have wind for. But a five-star general in the post of Chief of Staff can’t speak publicly on anything but the need to spend additional billions of dollars on the armed forces, universal military training and other projects that don’t go over too well with a public already bled white by taxes.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, the general’s rivals for the Republican nomination are trying to discredit him beyond repair by spreading what Life magazine calls “malicious gossip.”

Rumor and slander have always played an important part in American presidential elections. Lincoln was said to be an atheist, Harding the father of a bastard, Al Smith an agent of the Pope, Roosevelt a Jew, etc. But that was in days gone by. The one about Eisenhower, a real product of the atomic age, dwarfs them all into insignificance.

It seems that Eisenhower was a guest at a private Republican dinner in Washington, and that he let go with a few “off the record” remarks during an after-dinner discussion on inflation. And this, according to Fulton Lewis, Jr., is what he said: The government should call in. all the industrialists and have them agree to reduce prices for two or three years and to “eliminate all profits whatsoever”; and if they refused, Congress should tax all profits 100%!

It is easy to understand the gasps of horror that arose in high circles when this story made the rounds. Why, Eisenhower was un-American; as bad as any Bolshevik; even Henry Wallace had never gone that far.

A dirty lie! “Imputed to the general ... are words he never uttered and a supposed ‘program’ to deal with domestic problems which he never proposed,” cried Arthur Krock of the N.Y. Times, who had been present at the dinner. The truth is, said Life, that Eisenhower spoke only “on the need for combating inflation by holding both profits and wages at reasonable levels” – a view repeatedly endorsed by Roosevelt, Hoover, Wallace, Truman, Taft and every last member of the NAM.

The Eisenhower boom is said to have sagged sadly since this incident. Wouldn’t it be ironic, and yet a fitting comment on the times, if he lost the nomination – not because he is a puppet of the sinister military bureaucrats who are out to regiment the youth and to prussianize the nation – but because he was falsely credited with advocating a damned good idea?

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