AUGUST 13, 1960
HYDE PARK—I was sorry to read the announcement that Rep. Chester Bowles had withdrawn as a candidate for reelection to Congress so that he could devote full time to the election of Sen. John Kennedy as President.
It is obvious, as Representative Bowles asserts, that "no understandings or commitments with anyone anywhere" can be made as to his possible future service in a Kennedy Cabinet, and this seems to be supported by the wise decision of both Gov. Abraham Ribicoff and Senator Kennedy urging Representative Bowles to continue in the race. They, of course, thought that withdrawal from the race would discourage some Stevenson supporters, who would undoubtedly believe that some private commitment had been made to Mr. Bowles.
Both Senator Kennedy and Representative Bowles can assure the public that no commitments were made, but in politics, the public is so accustomed to receiving assurances made for the sake of convenience and with little regard for the truth that they rarely place any faith in them.
Both Mr. Stevenson and Mr. Bowles are well fitted for the two comparably important foreign policy positions, Secretary of State and Ambassador to the United Nations. A choice would really be a matter of assessing the needs of the moment and the qualities of each man and his experience.
Mr. Stevenson has had long service in the U.N. I cannot imagine that he would want to go back and act as permanent ambassador, for the simple reason that his qualifications are not those needed at the moment in the U.N.
When Mr. Stevenson helped set up the U.N., his legal training, his ability to gain the respect of top government officials, as well as their cooperation, was essential, but other qualities are needed more today, and he knows himself well enough to realize that these are not particularly his qualities.
Nobody should ask a candidate for the Presidency to name a single member of his future Cabinet before election. If he did that, he could properly ask that all Cabinet members be named, and it has always seemed to me that circumstances change so quickly that premature public commitments are a mistake.
People should know, however, that the best possible use of these men in the campaign is being made, that they are being used to advise and work together with the candidate on all foreign affairs matters as they come up for campaign discussion. This practically gives the candidate an opportunity to test the ability of these men and to explore their minds, thereby making certain his choice is the right one.
Personalities of the men are important, too. They have to be assessed in the context of the position in which they will function.
A man who aspires to be President of the United States has to take all of these things into consideration and weigh them carefully. Choices are never easily made, but when they are made with care and without political pressure, they are apt to be better. It is particularly important that there be no political pressure, regardless of what the professional politicians say, but rather a consideration for the people themselves who are to be a part of the tasks to be done. The needs of the present situation make this more important than in the past.