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Search for a White House Tenant

(8 March 1948)


From The Militant, Vol. XII No. 10, 8 March 1948, p. 4.


Housing shortage got you down? A couple of real estate brokers named Philip Murray and William Green are seeking a new tenant for one of the choicest residences in Washington, D.C. It’s in an exclusive neighborhood, but close to the shopping district. It’s equipped with a new $15,000 balcony for sun-bathing. And it’s rent free – with a $75,000 a year honorarium. Just to help you keep up this elegant joint.

But before you start writing any letters like “Dear Sirs: I’m a veteran with a wife and two kids living in a one-room cold-water flat,” you should know there are a few strings attached to the deal. The lease contains a list of restrictive covenants a yard long – and the usual one barring occupancy by “non-Caucasians” is just a starter.

Labor leaders, non-believers in capitalist “free enterprise,” working-class radicals of any stripe are strictly verboten. The new tenant must be some solid citizen, with respect for property, law and order and the established two-party system. He must have some good Wall Street references, comport himself in a decorous and conservative fashion, but at the same time be able, when the occasion requires, to talk a polite brand of “liberalism.”

Murray & Green, Inc., would prefer, if possible, a tenant of long-standing devotion to the Democratic Party. But a Republican might prove acceptable if he can meet all the other qualifications.

There’s one other very important restriction. Opponents of the Truman Doctrine are barred from the start. Anyone who doesn’t stand four-square for American imperialism, support of anti-labor regimes in Europe and preparations for World War III against the Soviet Union had better not send in an application for White House tenancy to Murray & Green, Inc.

But, you will probably ask, why arc these real estate brokers – -whose sideline, incidentally, is holding union offices – looking for a new tenant? Don’t they have a desirable tenant in the White House now? Well, yes – and no.

If it were altogether up to Murray and Green, they’d renew Harry S. Truman’s lease in a minute, But there’s one further little hitch.

The lease to the White House has to be renewed every four years and signed by a majority vote of the American electorate – meaning principally the workers. And Truman, it looks like now, is suffering from an aggravated case of political halitosis. Even his best friends arc beginning to tell him so.

So, Murray & Green, Inc., have to scram around at this late date to line up a possible new tenant, acceptable to the landlord, Wall Street, and yet who can turn on the “liberal” charm like a neon sign and attract the labor vote. That kind of tenant is scarce as hen’s teeth today.