JANUARY 4, 1940
WASHINGTON, Wednesday—We have just come back from the Capitol where we went—rather a large family party—to listen to the President deliver his message to Congress. Today's message is, of course, only a prelude to the budget message which goes in shortly, and which is the real indication of what the Administration hopes Congress will do during the coming year. This first message deals very largely in generalities, but the basic principles and general trends of thought are important.
I enjoy going up to Congress largely because I like to watch the reactions of the "floor." Certain amenities must, of course, be preserved, and everyone arises to greet the President whether they like the President or not. But when it comes to the speech, they applaud largely according to their political affiliations.
Statements which could certainly be subscribed to by all political parties, for some unknown reason, the Democrats applaud, while the Republicans sit with their hands carefully inactive! When the President announced, however, that except for national defense, all other items of the budget would show a decrease, the Republican side of the house applauded vigorously.
To an onlooker who is not much of a politician, this sudden indiscriminate applause is somewhat surprising. Do the Republicans mean by that they have such complete confidence in the Administration that any reduction, no matter for what purpose, will be accepted without scrutiny? They applauded also the expenditures for national defense, but their applause for all reductions would seem to indicate that national defense means to them only expenditure for the Army and Navy and munitions of war. Health, unemployment, the preservation of people's morale until the answers to modern economic questions are found, are apparently party matters, not matters of national interest and have no part in the national defense. What is this? Blindness? Ignorance? Indifference or partisanship?
Fortunately, applause probably has little or nothing to do with the real thinking and conviction of these human beings when they get out of a situation which they feel is controlled on a partisan basis, and we can hope that national unity on questions of national importance may be possible in spite of what might be called superficial indications to the contrary.
Regardless of the fact that according to our different lights we may consider that certain objectives should be achieved in different ways, still we can agree on those objectives and arrive at compromise methods through conference, rather than through vituperative cat and dog fights which defeat not only methods but often objectives as well.