The charm of Defense Secretary Wilson, up to now, has been his winsome candor. Political expediency never seemed to stop him from saying what he felt, and he pursued his policies with a fervor that belied his own statement that every time his mouth opened there was a foot in it. So, one would note his new directive to the military, calling for a reversal of his centralized buying doctrine, with a certain regret, were it not so necessary for the country's welfare.
The new directive gives the military thirty days in which to expand the number of firms to which it gives supply contracts. This is, of course, a direct change of the purchasing policy that netted General Motors a $1.7 billion increase during the Administration's first eighteen months. What hurts one's faith in Secretary Wilson are the attempts being made to square the new directive with his former policy. With the possibility of a Democratic Congress investigating the defense purchasing practices, it seemed that what might be good for General Motors was of very doubtful benefit to the Republican Administration. Something had to give, and it turns out to be Secretary Wilson.
Muttering that the contract policies had not been clearly understood in the past, a spokesman for the Defense Department insisted that the directive was really old hat. He said that the same policy had always been the intention of the Department and of its Secretary and that now it was merely being set down on paper. This interpretation overlooks the call for a revision of regulations, a review of policy and Wilson's own term of a "single, efficient producer" being the answer to a Defense Secretary's dream.
The old style Wilson might have posed more hazards for national security, but he was certainly a more admirable fellow than the man whose "spokesmen" justify Wilson's way to the Democrats.