"Madly for Adlai"
At dinner in Mrs. Roosevelt's East Sixty-second Street apartment in late 1953, after the folding tables had been put away and the party had reassembled around the fireplace in the living room, the hostess brought up the subject of the mediocrity of leadership in the present time. Where were statesmen of the calibre of FDR, Churchill, and Stalin? Mrs. Roosevelt asked. Perhaps Marshal Tito, she went on. Perhaps Adlai Stevenson. At this, Judge Samuel Rosenman demurred. Stevenson lacked political instinct, FDR's old counselor insisted. To prove his point, he told a story involving Cardinal Spellman. The cardinal had asked him to urge Stevenson to speak at the annual Alfred E. Smith dinner. It was a forum coveted by most politicians, since it indicated their acceptability to the cardinal, yet Stevenson the year before had turned it down. To the renewed invitation conveyed by Judge Rosenman, Stevenson replied that he had two invitations for the evening in question—one to address the Smith dinner, the other the Woodrow Wilson Foundation —and he was not sure which he should accept. Stevenson had to make up his mind, commented the judge, as to whether he wanted to be a statesman or a politician.
Mrs. Roosevelt defended Stevenson. She thought he was a world statesman with the potentiality of the wartime leaders—if only he would develop greater self-confidence. 1
The Democratic defeat in 1952 had one compensation—her discovery of Adlai. Exhilarated by his wit, eloquence, and integrity, held by the grace and glow with which he illuminated a problem, she came out of the campaign believing he should have another chance: