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John F. Petrone

Air Conditioned Suites

(5 July 1948)

From The Militant, Vol. 12 No. 27, 5 July 1948, p. 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

They didn’t have any smoke-filled rooms at the Republican convention in Philadelphia, but they did have plenty of air-conditioned, luxuriously-equipped hotel suites. And while the convention was held (or rather, staged) in the glare of television, the blare of radio and the clack of telegraphy transmitting millions of words by hundreds of correspondents, the real decisions were made in the hotel suites, admission to which required a special pass.

One such decision resulted in the switch to Dewey by Pennsylvania’s Sen. Edward Martin. An able Washington correspondent, Tris Coffin, explains that this took place after Martin had tried, and failed, to get his state delegation to commit itself indefinitely to his own nomination, a move which would strongly have increased his bargaining power: “The spurned and burning Ed Martin went down the street to Gov. Dewey panting with bitterness. In the closed door conferences, Sen. Martin got the idea he could be Secretary of National Defense in a Dewey cabinet. That sounded elegant to the ex-general. He put his arm around his friend, and they called the photographers.”

Two days later, Dewey accepted the nomination and announced with a straight face: “I come to you unfettered by a single obligation or promise to any living person.” Or, as Mother used to tell us, the moon is made of green cheese. The only difference being that we couldn’t prove what the moon is made of, while every man, woman and child inside and outside of Philadelphia knew that the Martin switch was just one of the scores of deals, trades and bargains by which Dewey got the nomination. It couldn’t be flatly denied by even his closest sympathizers, like Arthur Krock of the N.Y. Times, a conservative with the subtlety of a brick.

Krock chides Dewey’s rivals, by whom “‘deals’ have been steadily charged and denounced, with intimations that they are of the kind that cannot withstand the light of day.” Apparently Krock wants people to think they can withstand the light of day, although neither Dewey, Krock nor any of the other Times correspondents revealed any of the details. But rhe pay-off comes on Krock’s reasons for pooh-poohing the charges: “the so-called ‘deals’ were routine professional politics (all the contenders tried to make the same kind).”

In other words, there’s nothing wrong in the Republican candidate having the morals of a wardheeler just so long as all the other Republican (and Democratic) bigwigs have the same morals. That’s like a stick-up man asking to be acquitted because all his friends are stick-up men too.

The above remarks are not prompted by the indignation that swells in liberals at the thought of sordid deals in smoke-filled rooms. In our opinion it wouldn’t make any difference if there were no deals at all among the various contenders for the Republican and Democratic nominations. They would still be the candidates of Big Business, with the morals of a shark crossed with a vulture.

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