Law and Politics: Occasional Papers of Felix Frankfurter, 1913-1938

By Felix Frankfurter; Archibald MacLeish et al. | Go to book overview

Károlyi, Kellogg, and Coolidge

This selection appeared as an unsigned editorial in the New Republic for December 2, 1925.

IRRESPONSIBILITY is perhaps the chief characteristic of the Coolidge administration. The public accountability of the President which was implied in Roosevelt's outspokenness was respected even by Taft, Wilson, and Harding. These Presidents partly relied on publicity for their policies and partly responded to an active public curiosity about public affairs. Mr. Coolidge has systematically muffled the public mind and denied official responsibility in action. By calculated taciturnity and the irresponsible anonymity of the official White House spokesman, public apathy has been cultivated and questionable conduct screened. These basic vices for a democratic society have spread from the White House and infected the whole administration. A complacent press completes the mischief.

A striking illustration of the whole color of the Coolidge régime is furnished by the Károlyi incident. The granddaughter of Count Andrassy, one of the great European statesmen of the nineteenth century, herself a woman of distinction, is denied a visa on her passport for the United States, whither she seeks to come to visit friends. The American Consul at Paris refused in fact both a visa and any reason for withholding it. This arbitrary conduct is accentuated by the fact that the only surface cause appears to be the fact that the lady is the wife of Count Michael Károlyi, the first President of the Hungarian Republic, but now under the ban by the Horthy régime. Inquiry at the State department secures at first a vague claim that "the law" compelled refusal. "The White House spokesman," now known by every schoolboy

-135-

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