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Many people get the jitters when they think of the possibility of Huey Long in the White House. Last week Senator Robinson, who gets riled by him, described him as a Red. Communists call him a Fascist. In truth he is just about as much of a Red, just about as much of a Fascist, as the late Boss Tweedno more and no less.
His political strength is that he is a cross between an unscrupulous Bryan and a political Barnum, a realist as well as an exhibitionist. He is a buffoon by policy but in his own line he is as smart as a steel trap. He has conclusively demonstrated that in Louisiana by finding a hundred ingenious ways to turn the institutions of democracy into the tools of absolute dictatorship. He is a master of writing jokers into laws. In the U. S. Senate he has made himself in three short years a master of parliamentary tricks.
Old Fred. With his Share-the-Wealth movement he is now considered a potential rival to Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1936. Certainly he would like to become master of the U. S. as he is master of Louisiana. His hero is Frederick the Great of whom he says: "He was the greatest who ever lived. 'You can't take Vienna, Your Majesty. The world won't stand for it,' his nitwit ambassadors said. 'The hell I can't,' said old Fred, 'my soldiers will take Vienna and my professors at Heidelberg will explain the reasons why!' Hell, I've got a university down in Louisiana that cost me $15,000,000, that can tell you why I do like I do."
But the question is whether Huey Long's soldiers can take Vienna. Roosevelt I and La Follette I both found how hard it was to get up the machinery of a third party on a country-wide basis. Huey Long is no man's fool about such a practical matter. He also knows perfectly well that outside Louisiana where his Share-the-Wealth Clubs are run by his lieutenants, they are not organized as an effective political army. He can either trade on his nuisance value or he can run as a third party candidate. He might, as some people have estimated, poll 10,000,000 votes. If he does run, it will be a victory of his vanity over his horse sense.
For there is no profit in being an also-ran, which is all that 10,000,000 votes can make a candidate. Vain as Huey Long is, his career shows that he generally chooses for profit rather than notoriety or glory. If he chooses for profit, his threat of entering the campaign will be something on which he can set a high price. Republicans have already calculated that the 13,000,000 votes which they polled last autumn must be the absolute minimum conservative vote in the U. S. If Huey Long can poll 10,000,000 votes as third-party candidate, those votes subtracted from the 22,000,000 votes which Franklin Roosevelt polled in 1932, will give the Republican candidate victory.