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PRESIDENTIAL HOPSCOTCH

NO WRITER ATTRIBUTED

With his sweetly reasonable recapitulation of past arguments last Tuesday night, President Roosevelt continued his game of political hopscotch, blithely hopping over the squares in which the enemy counters were lying, but trying to give the impression of having touched on them in flight. It was a pretty demonstration of mental agility, but as logic it just can't keep its balance.

The previous Thursday Mr. Roosevelt had thundered that we were facing a crisis that called for immediate action. At that time at least one third of a nation wondered what this crisis was. It now seems that the dangers of a boom are again in the offiing, and that we are "at a crisis in our ability" to protect ourselves against these dangers. But none of the laws invalidated by the nine defeatists were designed to prevent a boom; the Bank Acts of 1933 and 1935, which the President pushed through Congress for this purpose, are still on the books and in no danger of being removed. One would have to regard the facts through a magnifying glass to see any crisis here.

Mr. Roosevelt would have the people read the Constitution for themselves, instead of hearing it as expounded from the Supreme bench. But his must be a rare edition of that document if he really expects the people to find in it the quotation he made from his fireside. He said that the framers gave Congress power "to levy taxes . . . and provide for the general welfare." Most authoritative editions would substitute "to" for the "and".

The President lamented that an amendment, besides being too slow, could be blocked by thirteen states with only five percent of the population. But he failed to remark that the representatives in the Senate of those same states could, by filibustering, block any judicial appointment he might make, or, for that matter, any law. In other words, he is not so worried about democratic majority rule as he is about his own immediate control. His real complaint is that he can't whip states into lines as easily as the might the gentlemen of the Senate.

Thus the President offers the poor blind public only the elephant's car, hoping it won't be able to guess from that, the kind of breast that confronts it. He may be able to finesse his plan through Congress by this means, but he is more likely to end up in the history books as one who preferred the methods of pressure politics to those of unequivocal presentation to the people.

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