• U.S.

POLITICAL NOTES: First Robin

3 minute read
TIME

The political campaigns of 1938 are hardly underway. Last week, however, two springs ahead of time, the Presidential campaign of 1940 started. For handsome, white-haired Paul Vories McNutt—U. S. High Commissioner in the Philippines since 1937—alighted, like the first robin of 1940, on U. S. shores.

Still boss of his State’s powerful Democratic machine although his term as Governor of Indiana ended a year ago, Paul McNutt is naturally anxious that his claims as a candidate for President shall not be forgotten. So on his first return to the U. S. his supporters found it incumbent upon them to keep him in the public eye. His trip from Manila to the White House (to report on Far Eastern affairs) was therefore designed on the order of a Roman triumph.

A mishap of the McNutt homecoming occurred in San Francisco when he and his administrative assistant, Wayne Coy, asked for an Army plane to fly them as far as Denver. Three days later, when it was revealed that their pilot. Colonel Davenport Johnson, had been transferred from Hamilton Field to second in command at the Air Corps Technical School at Chanute Field, 111., the War Department maintained it was a “routine” change but reporters jumped to the fairly naturalconclusion: that the Administration intended to snub Mr. McNutt.

By that time Paul McNutt was sitting down to a 2,000-place banquet at Indianapolis, where Jack Dolan of Indiana’s Democratic Editorial Association and Governor Clifford Townsend garlanded him with effusive laurel wreaths of oratory. Several days later silver-haired Mr. McNutt was in Washington, for an even more stunning event. To Washington, accustomed as it is to flamboyant entertaining, the banquet given Paul McNutt at the Mayflower Hotel was sensational.

On a 10-by-50-ft. buffet was piled $1,800 worth of cake, pastry and hors d’oeuvres, including the Washington Monument in sugar and a reproduction of Mt. Vernon. On another were the makings of 10,000 cocktails. Standing beside his loyal friend, Senator Sherman Minton, High Commissioner McNutt greeted 3,000 guests as they passed down the receiving line. Conspicuously absent were most higher officials of the New Deal and Franklin Roosevelt’s Cabinet, which was represented only by Attorney General Homer Cummings and Secretary of Commerce Daniel Roper. Earlier in the day, in the presence of newsreel photographers, the guest of honor McNutt had proudly announced: “I am not a candidate for any public office at this time.”

All but overlooked in the uproar of the somewhat over-punctual celebration of Mr. McNutt’s arrival in Washington was his official mission: to tell the President that: 1) Philippine sentiment for immediate independence is declining, 2) that Major General Douglas MacArthur is “doing wonders” with the Philippine Army, and 3) that U. S. residents of the Philippines resent paying income taxes.

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