BARUCH'S hold on the imagination of the plain people-- the man in the street and the housewife in the home-- had become legendary even before he was assigned to the task of working out a postwar economic program. It continued to grow as his recommendations were praised by nearly all commentators, and the Baruch-Hancock report became virtually a blueprint not only for the White House but for Congress.
The left-wingers who did not like it went unheard. To the farmers, little merchants, mechanics, and taxi drivers it had to be just what the doctor ordered for the country's good. Hadn't Baruch written it? When was Baruch wrong about anything?
There was the butcher in Baltimore, cringing under an attack by some wrought-up housewives who couldn't get what they wanted.
"Listen, ladies," he said, " Barney Baruch just took a job in Washington and soon everything is going to be a lot better."
When told the story Baruch hastened to explain that he was not a miracle man. People must not be led to expect too much. But he could hardly conceal his smile, and his eyes were twinkling. He appreciated that tribute far more than, 50 years earlier, he had valued a huge profit in the stock market. It carried all the savor of a spontaneous burst of applause for an artist's performance.
The financier was similarly pleased with reactions from Capi-