Today in Washington
Peek-Tugwell Rift Rocks Brain Trust in Washington
President Roosevelt has a squabble on band in the official family. Instead of a revolt by the brain trust against Mr. Roosevelt, the truth is serious differences of opinion have arisen between George N. Peek, of the A.A.A., and Assistant Secretary Tugwell of the Department of Agriculture, which have resulted in some plain speaking on the part of all concerned.
Mr. Peek was given the job of running the agricultural adjustment administration in compliance with the wishes of Congress and he has come to the conclusion that the law can be administered best if he is left alone and is not interfered with by members of the Brain trust, notably Assistant Secretary Tugwell and Jerome Frank, General Counsel.
As the story goes, Secretary Wallace has been between two fires. Mr. Tugwell is an old friend but the pressure upon the Department of Agriculture has been such that some of the Tugwell doctrines have met with considerable resistance, making it difficult for the Agricultural Adjustment Administration and the Department of Agriculture to function harmoniously.
Secretary Wallace recently went to Warn Springs and is understood to have discussed the situation fully with the President. The impression prevails here that Mr. Wallace feels that harmony can best be preserved by having Mr. Tugwell assigned to some other department, where he can continue to render advice to the President, but where he will not be a part of the administrative machinery of agriculture.
* * *
It's the same old difficulty of trying to fit a doctrinnaire into a government department. Again and again it has been said that the brain trust would have been more useful if it had been employed as a research corps, or if it had been set up in a different part of the government to lay down principles for the approval or disapproval of the President. As it is, there are just enough members of the brain trust sprinkled around in the departments to clutter up the machinery and prevent it from functioning smoothly.
It is reliably reported that Mr. Peek served an ultimatum to the effect that unless Mr. Tugwell was taken out of the agricultural building he himself would resign. This may be an exaggeration, of course, of the way Mr. peek feels about it, but there is no doubt that friction has developed, and that Mr. Roosevelt has the task of bringing about harmony.
One of the ways that Mr. Tugwell has been operating has been to send some of the young lawyers and special assistants to the various hearings, where they raise all sorts of legal objections unless the policy is in conformity with the broad principles of readjustment which are the heart and soul of the Tugwell philosophy.
* * *
There is, of course, in Congress a considerable sentiment against the brain trust. The idea of putting into the government, men who have access to the White House from time to time, without reference to their superiors or other departments, is provoking much irritation. Naturally, Mrs. Roosevelt feels kindly to the group of men who have been responsible for some of the daring and aggressive policies of the New Deal, but the question is arising whether the time has not come to bring about discipline within the ranks of the government itself. Theoretically, Secretary Wallace, as a member of the President's cabinet, should speak for agriculture, but he has an assistant secretary who is now being looked upon by various elements in agriculture and business as the real spokesman of President Roosevelt.
One of the published reports today stated that there was a controversy between the left and right wings of the Roosevelt administration, and while the is true to a certain extent, it does not describe the fundamental differences of approach and temperament involved it the Tugwell-Peek dispute. It is handly fair to say that there is a cleavage between conservatism and radicalism to the ranks of the Roosevelt administration. The President himself is still the arbiter of principles and polices, but the may also have to become an umpire a between personnel