JULY 10, 1952
HYDE PARK, Wednesday—Perhaps we all expected too much of General MacArthur's speech Monday night. We have grown accustomed to thinking of him as a man of dramatic ability and we still remember his return to this country and the reception he received.
We sat before our television set long before General MacArthur himself appeared. I thought his coming would touch off one of those perfectly illogical convention parades in which everyone goes milling round and round carrying their state banners. But this did not take place. The straight, soldierly figure made his way to the rostrum accompanied by proper applause. It continued for some time but never got out of hand. As I watched the proceedings on television I felt a letdown in the atmosphere.
When General MacArthur began to speak I was not surprised at the wholesale denunciation of the Democratic party and the Administrations past and present. But there must have been some Republicans who could not fully agree with him, since they had a share in bringing about certain things that the general was inveighing against.
Time and again I felt that he was counting on rather short memories on the part of the public. Otherwise he would not have said quite the things he did say, since a knowledge of the facts could only make one smile as one listened.
But one does not expect too much accuracy in a keynoter. The important thing was that we waited in vain for the positive part of the speech. General MacArthur got applause for what he was against, polite applause, and a few people were enthusiastic. But you had to decide what MacArthur and the Republican party were for by implication rather than by anything positive he said.
The general knows how to use his voice and he used it well now and then. But he evoked little emotion in his listeners. When he came out for the "good and the true" he stirred some real enthusiasm and one could only feel that the people were responding to the only part of his speech that might be called positive. We, even we who are Democrats, believe in religion and morality and truth and spiritual leadership. It is all a question of how you get it, what brings it about.
Over the radio yesterday morning I heard that the speech lasted 52 minutes. I had a feeling it had lasted much longer than that. And at moments I think most of us who were listening and watching wondered why this man who made such a dramatic appeal to Congress on his return to this country could leave one so uninspired and cold when he came before us again not as an old soldier but as a politician to take his part in saving this country in a new way.
Somehow I didn't feel he succeeded Monday night as an actor, as a politician or as a savior.