- Thanks for running the New Republic review, DJ. I knew almost none of
At the height of Nixon's presidency when RMN was naming Justices
intended to turn the Court rightward, one pundit (Kempton? Severeid?)
said "Bill Douglas' pacemaker is all that stands between this nation
and fascism." A comment like that was understood as an exaggeration
but it pointed up Douglas' unsullied image at the time as all the
lonely hero of civil liberties.
He also benefitted from his enemies: then House Minority Leader Gerald
Ford for one who fulminated over Douglas having written a piece (a
serious piece) for Playboy! Ford was a good president later but at the
time he was playing to the Philistines. And Ford had been festooned by
LBJ with comments like: "Can't walk and chew gum at the same time",
"Played football too often with his helmet off", "Couldn't pour piss
out of a boot if the instructions were written on the heel." Douglas'
halo glowed brighter the madder Ford got.
It's not only Truman who was lucky not to get Douglas on his ticket.
Roosevelt had a shine for Bill, too. Bob Hannegan, the DNC chairman in
'44 was given a pencilled chit by FDR saying: "Douglas or Truman.FDR."
Hannegan (a Truman partisan) successfully importuned the great man to
re-write the chit as: "Truman or Douglas. FDR." Had Roosevelt not made
the change his re-election could have been jeopardized or, worse, it
might have been Douglas with his hand on the Bible that Thursday
afternoon the following April. Jim Smith--------------------