Brass Tacks

Crystal Ball Cabinet

A few weeks ago, the seers of press and radio were dousing the American public with speculative garbage about the "Dewey cabinet." When this hypothetical group vanished on November 3, the experts shamelessly began the same sort of ponderous gossip about Truman's advisers--who was scheduled to depart, and who was sneaking up fast on the inside for such-and-such an executive position.

Of the 12 cabinet jobs, at least three should be emptied before June graduations. One is, of course, that of the Secretary of State. Anybody who pays the slightest attention to the newspapers (or the radio) knows that Marshall intends to retire, and that there are at least 17 candidates mentioned to replace him. Prominent among these are Mrs. Roosevelt, Sumner Welles, General Eisenhower, and, surprisingly enough, John Foster Dulles. During the past year, Dulles has been popping up like Banquo's ghost every time the columnists sit down to a free lunch of rumor, insinuation, and prediction. He ought to win by seniority, at any rate.

The second cabinet officer reported likely to return to private life and a decent wage-scale is Defense Secretary Forrestal. He has even gone to the extreme of remarking in person that he will probably leave the Administration, instead of allowing the columnists to do it for him. This has so irked the prophets that they have almost left off prognosticating Forrestal's successor. However, a few columns have come forth grudgingly to nominate General Eisenhower, Army Secretary Royall, and Henry L. Stimson, who was in the Cabinet when Dewey was knocking around in knickers.

As for a third vacancy in the executive phalanx, the political touts figure that somebody is bound to die, retire, or otherwise disappear from among the remaining nine positions. They point knowingly to figures who accompany the President on vacation jaunts (such as Governor Wallgren of Washington, ousted in the recent election). They also point knowingly to figures who do not accompany the President anywhere (such as General Eisenhower). These people, the commentators reveal, are dark horses for the Cabinet, which means that somebody has to get out to make room for them.

As a matter of fact, if all the dark horses, Missouri cronies, Senatorial comrades, and citizens-of-stature-deserving-high-executive-positions were included in the new Truman Cabinet, that body would have to hold its meetings in the waiting-room at Grand Central Station. This might not help governmental efficiency, but it would certainly give wider scope to the purveyors of political chit-chat.

And it might not be a bad idea. A Cabinet of gargantuan size would force the soothsayers out into the open, and the public could select those with genuine imaginative powers from the common herd of predictors. As it is, almost every seer is compelled to inflict the same old ordinary palaver on his audience. Few variations are possible--such as suggesting Eisenhower for Secretary of Agriculture instead of Defense--and these have been nearly exhausted by now. So have the prophets; and, it is fervently to be hoped, the public will get a little tired, too.