At Marion, Ohio, on June 16th according to yesterday's newspapers, the curtain rises on the last act of an American tragedy. On that day President Hoover and ex-President Coolidge, together with the chiefs of the Republican hierarchy, will gather beside the $800,000 marble mausoleum of Warren Gamaliel Harding for the somewhat belated dedication of the late President's tomb. The same editions carry the announcement of the day's decision by the United States Supreme Court denying ex-Secretary Fall's appeal from his prison sentence.
The proceedings will be broadcasted over a nation wide book up. It is possible to foretell the announcer's description-"the twenty-four great doric columns each of pure marble weighing fifty-three tons apiece, the two graves within, and the lone willow tree growing over them...". Then the speeches. "A leader of a great democracy, a statesman who steered the ship of state safely through troubled waters after the war, a great American." Then the Star Spangled Banner.
To a younger and perhaps a more candid generation such a ceremony seems the last degree of hypocrisy. Before the nation and the world the subject of these eulogies has been revealed as one of the most mediocre specimens as ever graced the White House, and as a product of the worst sort of machine politics.
He stands as the President in whose administration occurred one of the most malodorous scandals in the country's history, a scandal whose oily trail led to the resignation under fire of a portion of his cabinet and the conviction of his Secretary of the Interior for taking a bribe from the same oil interests many of whose officials also fell under the penalty of the law.
Even granting the innocence of the principal figure, the ability of a president to appoint from among is friends to positions of great public trust men capable of such betrayal is hardly a talent for which the nation can be proud.
Yet on June 16th there will be the bands, the oratorical praise. Given the exigencies of national politics, this ceremony is all very understandable, yet it is hardly the more justifiable. If Mr. Harding's friends and the remnants of the "Ohio Gang" want to do his memory honor, it is entirely fitting that they should erect a memorial, but it is hardly necessary or proper to put the official seal of sanctimony on the proceedings by the presence of President Hoover and ex-President Coolidge and the making of it into a national ceremony.
If democracies were less maudlinly ready to condone, their elective servants might not be so prone to err.