Public Men in and out of Office

By J. T. Salter | Go to book overview

7
JOSEPH C. O'MAHONEY: "His Answer to the Enigma"

BY JULIAN SNOW

ONE EVENING LATE IN THE SUMMER OF 1934 I WAS DINING in the Occidental Restaurant in Washington with Joseph C. O'Mahoney, lawyer, ex-newspaperman, Massachusetts-born United States Senator from Wyoming. The conversation turned that night to the reasons for the industrial collapse of 1929 and the tremendous recovery program then under way. The Seventy-third Congress had been appropriating deficit dollars at the rate of a billion a month in an unprecedented effort to speed recovery. General Hugh Johnson and his NRA were endeavoring to regulate the shaken economy of 130,000,000 citizens. In Europe a ranting, political agitator, financed to power by the Fritz Thyssens of Germany, had made totalitarian government the answer to security for other millions of human beings.

"Is America preparing to fly the swastika?" I asked the Senator that night. "Government exists only for the purpose of making it possible for people to serve themselves," he replied. "When America's economy stalled the government had to act. But all we are doing now is only a palliative. It does not reach the cause of the sickness. It offers no permanent solution." He paused, and then remarked, as though to himself, "But there is an answer."

"The answer" O'Mahoney had in mind has developed into the theme of his career in the United States Senate. We find it boiled down to this ten-word concept of democracy which he has written in his own distinctive, rapid script across thousands of leaflets, visiting cards, and photographs for which autograph

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