People who believe that U. S. foreign policy is determined at the State Department or in full-dress hearings of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, kept their eyes last week on Washington. People who believe that the mass attitudes of the U. S. are really controlling, looked instead at forces which help shape those attitudes.
On Good Friday morning, a gracious, energetic, long-legged lady swept into an office on Manhattan's Fifth Avenue to finger two swatches of sheer blue woolen cloth and exclaim to a cackling bevy of fashion reporters: "Isn't it nice that we chose shades which look so well together!"
Strangely enough these words had fundamental relation to U. S. foreign policy. For the long-legged lady was Anna Eleanor Roosevelt Roosevelt and the swatches were materials for dresses, presented by the wool-raisers of Britain and the U. S., which Mrs. Roosevelt and Britain's Queen Elizabeth will wear if they meet as scheduled in the U. S. in June. Mrs. Roosevelt's patient swatch-fingering was an innocent little act cooked up by the U. S. wool-growers' publicists. (Commodore Robert B. Irving of the Queen Mary acted as special courier to take Her Majesty's material to London.) Mrs. Roosevelt put statesmanlike point upon the act by saying: "We [herself and Queen Elizabeth] are both glad to emphasize the value of good wool in the trade of both countries."
What both ladies emphasized besides wool's trade value was that the Queen's country stood at the forefront of, and Mrs. Roosevelt's country stood at the brink of joining, a mobilization of what Mrs. Roosevelt's indomitable uncle, Roosevelt I, would have called the forces of Righteousness. Week by week, day by day, other forces were operating in a way which might prevent the two ladies meeting in June and divert both their countries' wool production away from ladies' dresses and into socks, sweaters, breeches, belly-bands for soldiers.
Should affairs come to that pass, the interest of Mrs. Roosevelt's people in Queen Elizabeth's people would be critical if not decisive in world history. Mrs. Roosevelt, just back from a transcontinental lecture tour punctuated by stops in a score of States and the birth of a new grandson ("Little John" Boettiger) in Seattle, had seen and been seen by people all the way from peon pecan-shellers to her son Jimmy's boss, Samuel Goldwyn. On this trip, she said, she had encountered less Isolationist sentiment than ever before. Said she: "There are still people who think that we can cut ourselves off from the rest of the world, but more people are less secure in this belief."