New York Knockout
Thirty years ago the phrase "Gentleman Jim has won again" meant a pugilist named Corbett. Today it refers to a cagey politician whose last name is Farley. For, in the New York Democratic Convention yesterday, Jim's man won the nomination for Governor hands down. The victory of Attorney General John J. Bennett over Senator James A. Mead sets off a chain of consequences that may tie the political structure of the country into its worst tangle in several decades. Most important of all, it forces a wartime President into the dangerous game of playing politics within his own party.
The most striking implications are those affecting the line-up for the spotlights of 1944. President Roosevelt was an open supporter of Senator Mead; he now finds his leadership flatly repudiated. Today the New York machine belongs to Jim Farley and will be his sole property until well after the next Democratic National Convention. Any man controlling the New York bloc of delegates would carry weight in such a gathering, and Farley, with more friends than any other man since Mark Hanna, may find himself in complete control. The combination of a Roosevelt-hating Farley and a Labor-baiting Southern bloc might easily be too much for the New Deal forces to beat.
On the Republican side of the fence the pasture can be cultivated just as neatly. Bennett's nomination makes the election of Tom Dewey as Governor of New York the closest approach to a political cinch since the 1932 Presidential campaign. The American Labor Party, whose 400,000 votes have been the decisive Democratic margin in New York since 1936, has announced that it will put its own candidate in the field rather than support the lukewarm Mr. Bennett. This move will split the Democratic vote like a meat cleaver through a chicken-leg.
Dewey, who has the Republican nomination completely sewed up, stands the best chance in twenty years to walk into the Albany State House without even bothering to campaign. When 1944 rolls around, he will be a ready-made Presidential candidate. With the paternal blessings of Herbert Hoover and Alf Landon, and with support from Westbrook Pegler, the nation's most widely read columnist, Dewey will be the most seasoned piece of 1944 Republican timber.
No one can now honestly say that President Roosevelt is "playing politics too much." If the nation is to have a President who will lead American participation in a sensible peace, there must be a clear cut choice in 1944. The New York political situation indicates a strong possibility that both candidates of that year may be of a conservative and isolationist bent. In order to insure the selection of an internationally-minded nominee, Mr. Roosevelt must now take positive steps to strengthen his own control of his party. That effort is not only a matter of New Deal strategy, but of the gravest national importance as well. Only liberal control of the 1944 Democratic Convention can prevent another Harding.