An American's Challenge to America
Tugwell's critics saw no selflessness in his motivation. In their view he strove mightily and successfully for personal power, which he used to implement his unorthodox ideas--and unorthodoxy was ipso facto un-American. The presentation and rebuttal of these allegations in the first three chapters of this concluding section may seem to some readers as if we are setting up a straw man. Yet, if the orthodox thinkers do not enjoy exclusive possession of patriotism, their pretension to this monopoly and the resultant charges, whether valid or not, are important historical facts.
Tugwell's critics traced his driving personal ambition back to 1915, when he expressed in blank verse his determination to "make America over." As a New Dealer, Tugwell often heard this somewhat theatrical composition of his college days. In 1934 Senator L. J. Dickinson (Rep., Ia.) read the poem to his colleagues.1 H. L. Mencken paraphrased it in his column of August 17, 1936.2 These citations implied that Tugwell saw in his association with Roosevelt an opportunity to make his youthful dreams come true. Frank Kent contrasted Tugwell's frustration during years of studying and writing and of imagining a world organized and managed according to his theories with his exhilaration as he found his ideas adopted by the President, accepted by the nation, and he, himself, in a position to play a key role in their execution--"What a transformation for this young man from his cloistered college circle to the center of power in the world! . . . What a thrill he must be having now."3Blair Bolles conceded that Tugwell was not enthusiastic about going to Washington in 1933 and did not enjoy his official position at