Wednesday, June 01, 2016

Today -100: June 1, 1916: Whatever defects I have, I do not pussy-foot


First Chief Venustiano Carranza demands that US troops leave Mexico. Pancho Villa’s band of merry men has been “entirely dispersed,” he says, yet the Americans remain. “[T]here has been a great discrepancy between the protests of sincere friendly co-operation on the part of the American authorities and the actual attitude of the expedition, which, on account of its distrust, its secrecy regarding its movements and the arms at its disposal, clearly indicated that it was a hostile expedition and a real invasion of our territory.” However, the note fails to give the US a deadline. US officials are pretty much unanimous in declaring it a bluff intended for internal consumption.

Ernest Shackleton has left the Antarctic and his ill-fated Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition, but 22 of his expedition remain behind on Elephant Island, needing rescue. Everyone will be out of the Antarctic by next February.

Theodore Roosevelt, in a speech in St. Louis, says Woodrow Wilson uses “weasel words” about preparedness but “only the compulsion of the spirit of America.” Yeah, I don’t know what that means either. He says “Whatever defects I have, I do not pussy-foot,” which is the slogan of every awful candidate ever (looking at you, Donald J. Trump).

I don’t understand the Republican Party of 1916. The old guard, the people who fought so hard four years ago to ensure that the nomination went to Taft rather than Roosevelt, are now asking Roosevelt and the Progressives (actually, they may be trying to do a deal behind TR’s back) to help them prevent Charles Evans Hughes becoming the party’s presidential candidate. I don’t know what they have against Hughes. The proposed deal seems to be that the Progressives would return to the Republican party and help defeat Hughes in favor of someone like Elihu Root, who would serve one term and then Roosevelt could run in 1920. Which doesn’t pass the laugh test.

Meanwhile, Frank Hitchcock, a former chair of the RNC and postmaster-general, who seems to be running Hughes’ campaign even though he says he hasn’t spoken with Hughes for months, is assuring everyone that Hughes would accept the nomination if offered, leading to calls that Hughes say that himself. But Hughes isn’t even taking phone calls from party leaders. And no one knows his positions on current issues.

The convention is just a week away.

By the way, Hitchcock’s power doesn’t derive from his RNC role but his role in the Post Office, the greatest source of government patronage of the time. A lot of Southern delegates got cushy PO jobs from him.


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