POLITICAL NOTE: Share-the-Wealth Wave

  • Share
  • Read Later

(3 of 7)

The head of that office—Senator Long's Marvin Mclntyre, "Steve" Early and James Aloysius Farley rolled into one—is Earle J. Christenberry. Secretary Christenberry works on a yearly contract, holds Mr. Long's power of attorney, pays his bills, looks after his $55,000 life insurance. Fourteen years ago Mr. Christenberry claimed the world's record in stenography, later ran a public stenographic service in New Orleans. He got his job early one morning when Huey Long called him up and dictated a long letter over the telephone. Nowadays he works Sundays, nights and holidays. He sees that each of the 15,000 to 30,000 letters a day received at the Senate Office Building addressed to Senator Long gets a "personal" answer from the Senator. He is the mechanic who keeps Huey Long's Washington political machine in running order.

But it is not a close-knit organization like the parent company in Louisiana. For Huey Long has, practically speaking, no personal friends in official Washington. He used to go out sometimes with Senator Wheeler until Senator Wheeler decided he had better keep to quieter company. Although he is on speaking terms with every Senator, there are few members who relish talking to him. He has openly threatened to campaign in the next election against Senators Robinson, Harrison and Bailey. As a whole the Senate dislikes and fears him.

Visitors & Boys. The only other personal contacts Senator Long has in Washington are with newshawks. Many a correspondent despises him. But coming from a State where every paper of note attacks him violently, he is grateful for small favors. He looks kindly on the New York Times because he thinks it alone gives him a fair break. His best newshawk friend is Paul Y. Anderson of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Recently a story went the Washington rounds to the effect that Senator Long did the unheard-of thing of calling informally on Correspondent Anderson at his home one evening, accompanied by two bodyguards carrying "violin cases." "Just dropped in for a chat," said the Senator. "Don't mind the boys here. They just look big because they have a couple of submachine guns along."

Senator Long has not suffered from a lack of friends in Washington. A turn has come in his affairs and he is too busy for social contacts. From the first the President, whom he helped nominate, definitely would have no truck with him. The Administration, in fact, lined up against him, gave him no patronage, indicted his friends for income tax evasion. He began, according to his custom, a campaign of retaliation, singling out Postmaster General Farley as the Administration's Achilles heel. Democratic leaders thought they had to reply and in no time public interest filled the Senate galleries whenever Senator Long appeared on the floor. He became a national character, which from his standpoint was both enjoyable and profitable.

Serious Sideline. A second good fortune followed. General Johnson denounced him (TIME, March 18). Senator Long did not mind in the least. He demanded radio time to reply, and seized the opportunity, not to denounce General Johnson but to propagandize for his Share-the-Wealth Clubs. That brought him his maximum mail, over 30,000 letters in one day.

  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  4. 4
  5. 5
  6. 6
  7. 7