JULY 5, 1960
NEW YORK—I listened to former President Truman's statement Saturday, as I imagine many people did, and while I very much regret his resignation as a delegate to the Democratic convention, I was relieved to hear that he will perhaps be in Los Angeles next week. I imagine he has been persuaded to be somewhere where he can be consulted.
I fully share his desire for a free convention, with delegates really listening to all sides of every question and sizing up every candidate and making up their minds without any coercion, but who knows better than Mr. Truman that such a convention never existed and probably never will? Human nature is human nature, and no human being is ever completely free of the feeling that he must consider where he may be harmed and where he may be rewarded for the actions which he takes.
If, state by state, we will go to work to clean out bad bosses, we shall greatly improve the calibre of the individuals who run the machinery of both parties. If rules and regulations are passed which make it possible for the rank-and-file party members to have a voice in various decisions, right up to the choosing of their representatives in conventions, than we shall have done something that may give us more participation by the people and cleaner politics.
Mr. Truman said many kind things about Senator John Kennedy, and he said that he was in no way removing his backing from Senator Stuart Symington, but when he went on to enlarge at length upon the virtues of Senator Lyndon Johnson it was evident that he has a well-formulated idea of where the delegates' voting strength should go. He would like to see it transferred from both Senator Kennedy and Senator Symington to Senator Johnson. I doubt that his feeling will be unanimously echoed in Los Angeles.
Interestingly, it now appears that Senator Kennedy and Senator Symington had better court Senator Hubert Humphrey's backing. It seems rather ironical that a man who had to withdraw from the race because he was defeated still holds the trump cards.
The most conspicuous point in Mr. Truman's statement, of course, was his naming so many possibilities as candidates, some of whom have hardly been mentioned before, while completely omitting the name of Adlai E. Stevenson. I remember well when President Truman forced Mr. Stevenson to run in 1952. I remember that, having done so, he was surprised to find that he had not nominated someone who would cleave to him, but someone who had a mind of his own. But of course no one has failed to understand Mr. Truman's reasons for not caring about Mr. Stevenson. They are two totally different people.
Mr. Truman has demonstrated that he was a good President, but that does not mean that a man with very different qualities might not be a good President as well. We have had a number with qualifications more closely resembling those of Mr. Stevenson than of Mr. Truman. Nobody expected Mr. Truman to back Mr. Stevenson this year, but some of us were surprised that he did not have the courtesy to mention his name.
Mr. Stevenson will remain a great figure in the country, whether he is nominated or not. Without any office, he is still the only one of all the candidates who forces the knowledge upon you that he has entered a room even before he speaks.