Mr. Roosevelt is an excellent poker player, and probably one of the principal explanations for this is his continual refusal to call a spade a spade. He has been just one card ahead of the public since last June, and with phenomenal success has directed opinion into planned channels. This is his right as President, but to employ the methods of unfounded alarm and misnomer, as he is now doing on the convoy issue, is both hypocritical and dishonest.
First Mr. Roosevelt announced that the Red Sea would not be considered a war area, and therefore open to American shipping. With Nazi troops entrenched in North Africa, this comes dangerously close to making unconvoyed American cargo ships vulnerable to Nazi torpedoes. Yesterday he disclosed to his press conference that American protectorate Greenland "may now be occupied by the Axis powers." Whether this is founded or unfounded, the American public gets a look at the same sort of balloon they saw during the Neutrality Act discussion, when he announced to the papers that he had sighted a submarine off the coast of Newfoundland.
Coupled with the Greenland trial balloon, Mr. Roosevelt made it "evident . . . from the discussion with correspondents that he views the neutrality patrol as capable of almost unlimited extension and a means likely to protect shipping as effectively as convoys." "Neutrality patrol" is rapidly becoming synonymous to "convey."
The final move will be calmly to suggest that Congress admit the accomplished fact, pass a convoy bill, and the President will have won another hand of clever, if undercover, political poker.