SEPTEMBER 18, 1950
HYDE PARK, Sunday—I had never before read a speech by Senator William E. Jenner of Indiana until his remarks before the Senate, attacking General George C. Marshall, were made on last Friday and carried in the newspapers. From the account I gather that the poor man was somewhat excited, and one must therefore be charitable. But I was glad to see that some of his own Republican colleagues seemed able to retain their composure sufficiently, in spite of the state of shock into which he plunged them, so that they were able to dissociate themselves from his remarks.
When you read the quotations from the part of Senator Jenner's prepared speech which he did not actually deliver, you realize that it was written mainly for partisan reasons. He must never have been taught as a little boy that all of us, regardless of the party to which we belong, owe a certain respect to the man who holds the Presidential office in our country. We may attack the President's policies and his party, but it is rare that anyone or any political party writes the things which Senator Jenner apparently permitted himself to write about the President.
There is certainly no need for anyone to defend General Marshall as a man or as a public servant. All human beings may make mistakes, and you may disagree with a man's policies without attacking his motives. It seems to me that the Senator did himself and his party far more harm by this outrageous speech than he could possibly do the General or the Administration. Such intemperate statements react against the people who make them, and as far as I can gather the general attitude toward these remarks is one of shock and concern for the dignity of the highest legislative body in our land. If one of our Senators can indulge in this type of speech against someone who headed our successful armies in World War II and who earned the respect and admiration of every true American, then we have fallen far below the standards which most of us felt were present in this highest legislative body of our land.
As one analyses these remarks, one finds that the fear of Communism is one of the motivations which led this gentleman into expressions which can most charitably be described as hysteria. I think anyone who feels as he does had better get over his fears and begin to understand that what will really conquer Communism is the development of democracy, loyalty to democratic ideals and determination to see our nation live democratically. I have no fear that the Communists have something better to offer than we have in our democracy. I think we can prove that in every way our people have greater freedom, greater opportunity and greater participation in their government.
We do not strengthen ourselves, however, by the type of intemperate and scandalous character-smearing which is occasionally attempted by irresponsible and, usually, little-known representatives in the legislative branches of our government. This speech of Senator Jenner's is perhaps the worst example of a type of attack which should never be made.