The President's Man: Leo Crowley and Franklin Roosevelt in Peace and War

By Stuart L. Weiss | Go to book overview
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12
Embattled

F or Leo Crowley the late winter of 1944 was the darkest period he had known for many years. Columnist I. F. Stone's assault on his policies as alien property custodian imperiled his career and reputation. Yet he was not the victim of a personal vendetta but of Stone's larger ideological focus. The previous July, when the columnist saw Wallace "betrayed," he had placed Crowley among a "right-wing quadrumvirate" which, aided by Roosevelt's "flaccid retreat before [his party's] Bourbons," was killing the New Deal. In October, after Crowley became foreign economic administrator, Stone was only a bit kinder. Crowley would probably "leave alone the progressives under him, provided only that there is peace and quiet." That need explained how Crowley "managed to keep several jobs and his health," and why he lacked "the hard, gemlike flame" Stone thought essential to cope with big business. ( Dean Acheson later wrote that Crowley reminded him of Talleyrand's admonition: "Above all, no zeal.") Still, Stone admitted that the FEA "could have a much worse boss than Crowley."1

After the new year, Stone began to attack Crowley more often and more sharply. First, he mentioned Crowley's role at Standard Gas, and that Standard had ties to the J. Henry Schroder banking firm of New York and London, which Time magazine said was, before 1939 at least, "an economic booster of the Axis." After implying that Crowley might have pro-Axis sympathies, Stone quickly denied that he believed it. But the allegation (which he would make and refute in later articles) had to cast doubt on Crowley's ability to act properly as alien property custodian and attract attention to later articles attacking him. And Stone made it clear that he intended to do such that. In an article on February 12 he wrote: "I hope next week to tackle the task of naming the men and influences in Washington which already make it seem an

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