Monday, September 06, 2004

Zell's Hazy Memory, Part 2

In his speech, Zell Miller claimed that in 1940, Republican nominee Wendell Wilkie "made it clear that he would rather lose the election than make national security a partisan campaign issue." It's true that Wilkie was an internationalist and supported FDR on instituting the draft, but he had no problem damning Roosevelt on other national security issues, especially when doing so began to boost his campaign. For example, when FDR decided to swap 50 out-dated destroyers for several British bases in the Western hemisphere, Wilkie called it "the most arbitrary and dictatorial action ever taken by any President in the history of the United States."1 Late in the campaign, according to historian David Kennedy, "Wilkie took to stridently denouncing Roosevelt as a warmonger. 'We do not wan to send our boys over there again,' he said in a speech in St. Louis. '[I]f you elect the third-term candidate, I believe they will be sent.'"2 Even more pointedly, Wilkie claimed that if Roosevelt was relected, "you can count on our men being on transports for Europe six months from now."3

1. David Kennedy, Freedom From Fear: The American People in Depression and War, p. 461
2. Kennedy, p. 462
3. Doris Kearns Goodwin, No Ordinary Time: Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt: The Home Front in World War IIp. 182

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