ALL RIGHT, JACK
Fox a time it looked as if Khrushchev's outbursts would help to waft the Republicans back into the White House. The American elec- torate, it could reasonably be argued, would remember Richard Nixon when the time came as the man who stood up to Mr. K in their kitchen squabble at the American Trade Fair in Moscow—as well as facing undismayed the South American mobs. But after the events of the past few weeks it seems more likely that Nixon will be found guilty by association with the mistakes of the, State Department and the deficiencies of President Eisenhower. Even be- fore the Democratic Convention, public opinion polls were suggesting a swing away, from him: and the Kennedy/Johnson ticket has made his chances more slender still—for he can hardly rush off on his travels again, finding new dragons to defy in order to redeem his reputation.
The change of mood came at exactly the right moment for Senator Kennedy. One of Kennedy's weaknesses was that, in a sense, he was the Republican candidate for the Democratic nom- ination. Republicans felt that his youth and his Catholicism would, in the last resort, send voters over to Nixon; and some of them may also have been impressed by the triear campaign about his youthful indiscretions (visitors to New York have long been regaled with the story that a file of photographs exists of Jack whooping it up in night clubs, and is ready for release at the appro- priate moment). But when the Democratic Con- vention met, the Republicans were already beginning to have second thoughts. At a time when age is being equated less with maturity than with senility, they realised, it might be better for them if the Democrats chose some old party wheel-horse, or even Adlai Stevenson. So far from stressing that Nixon is the older man, the chances are that the Republicans will soon be arguing that he is only a little older than Ken-. nedy—if, that is, they do not change their minds, and draft Nelson Rockefeller after all.
Rockefeller is not now the golden boy of a year ago, but some Republicans will be thinking of him because Nixon, though admired more widely than ever before, is not exactly lovable. There is nothing in Senator Kennedy's record to suggest' he is more human, more humorous or more humble than his rival, but the persona that has emerged is more engaging. And if there is any suspicion that the label 'lightweight' may be attached to him, he has only to name Stevenson as his Secretary-of-State-elect for the Democratic ticket to become very powerful indeed. He has postponed Cabinet-making for the present; though he would surely be glad to have Stevenson alongside him for campaign pu?poses, it is pos- sible he will prefer to have someone more mal- leable, or at least less of a public figure in his own right, in the job itself.
Whether Stevenson could have won the nomi- nation it he had declared himself at the decisive moment at Los Angeles (according to Alistair' Cooke, Kennedy delegates in 'substantial pum- bers might have defected to him) will have to remain one of history's 'ifs.' His decision not to regard himself as an official candidate but to allow himself to be drafted seemed wise for a man who had failed twice, and who in any case was never at ease in the grass-rooting atmosphere of the primaries. But it depended for its success on the votes for the other candidates at the con- vention breaking evenly: and with no real com- petitor to Kennedy amopg his rivals, they did not break evenly enough.
Judging by Panorama's admirable record of the Convention, Stevenson remains the most agreeable personality in American politics; with that look of alarmed bewilderment as his fans swept him up to the platform, and the crack about the nomination going to the Convention's 'last survivor.' By contrast Kennedy was too glib, the smile flashing on and off and the cliches rolling in and out with depressing precision. Still, it is what the Presidency does to a man that counts: and Professor Arthur Schlesinger has done well for Kennedy by recalling what Walter Lippmann wrote about FDR in 1932: An amiable man with many philanthropic impulses . . he is too eager to please. Frank- lin D. Roosevelt is no crusader. He is no enemy of entrenched privilege. He is a pleasant man who, without any important qualification for
the office, would very much like to be president.
At least it can be said for Kennedy that the civil rights plank in the Democratic programme is stronger on paper than ever it was under Stevenson: and his experience of Boston politics should help him in finding some way to get rid of the dubious di Sapio, the wretched Wagner, and the rest of the new Tammany.