« PoprzedniaDalej »
THE PRESIDENTIAL OUTLOOK AND THE
BY HENRY LITCHFIELD WEST
THE political storm-centre during the past three months has been the State of Ohio. In that State Mr. Charles P. Taft, brother of William H. Taft, the Secretary of War, placed the latter's name before the country as a candidate for the Republican Presidential nomination. Forthwith there was a clash between the Foraker and Taft forces, for there are many friends of Senator Foraker in Ohio who believe that he is Ohio's logical candidate. After many weeks of conferences, during which a factional fight of no mean proportions threatened, it seemed to be agreed that Mr. Taft should receive the support of the State for the Presidential nomination while Mr. Foraker should be returned to the Senate. It is by no means certain, however, that this arrangement will be allowed to stand. An interesting contest may yet be witnessed in the State.
The personal aspirations of two prominent men are, however, of minor importance compared with the question whether President Roose
velt is using the power of his position and the influence of his administration to secure the nomination of Mr. Taft. This is the assertion which the friends of Mr. Foraker are making and, if true, would undoubtedly have great effect in aiding their candidate. Fortunately for Mr. Taft and still more fortunately for the country, it is a statement which has no foundation in fact. The President is friendly to Secretary Taft and regards him as a most available man for the Republican nomination. Nobody-and least of all the President-denies this feeling of friendliPermission to republish articles is reserved.
ness between the President and Mr. Taft; but that the President is undertaking to force the nomination of Mr. Taft upon his party is absolutely false. In the first place, Mr. Roosevelt possesses too much common sense to occupy such a position. He is a close student of American political history and he is well aware of the fact that the American people will not brook executive domination. It has been a long time since any President of the United States undertook to name his own successor. The last successful effort in this direction was made by President Andrew Jackson, who determined that Martin Van Buren should be his legatee and who was able to accomplish his purpose, although the defeat of his party followed four years later. President Hayes attempted to make John Sherman his successor, but failed. On the other hand, any President who desires renomination can almost invariably secure it. President Harrison, for instance, was renominated at Minneapolis against the opposition of almost a majority of the delegates. But when a President dictates, or attempts to dictate, who shall succeed him, the case is regarded in a very different light by the American. people. Whatever other acts of omission or commission may be charged against President Roosevelt, he cannot truthfully be accused of attempting to play the Warwick. He will not use the executive power to advance the candidacy of any one man, even though he may cherish an honest desire to see his own policies continued by his successor.
This being the case, the contest for the Republican Presidential nomination is an open one, with a fair field and no favor. If Secretary Taft is all the more popular with the people because it is known that he and President Roosevelt are working in harmony to accomplish desirable ends, the aims and purposes of the one being the aims and purposes. of the other, and that, if elected, he will carry out to their full fruition the policies which Mr. Roosevelt has inaugurated, he undoubtedly enters the race with a favorable handicap. This is very different, however, from proving the President guilty of the direct use of executive influence. Moreover, Mr. Taft possesses characteristics which in themselves commend him to the American people. There is no question as to his ability. He has demonstrated his capacity in numerous positions. As an attorney-general of the United States he was an industrious and faithful official; as judge upon the circuit bench in Ohio he was an able, conscientious, and learned jurist; while as Governor of the Philippines he brought order out of chaos, displayed remarkable executive force, and, withal, demonstrated his great tactfulness. Wherever he has been placed he has done his duty faithfully and well, while his personal magnetism is very marked.
While the Roosevelt sentiment is very largely embodied in Mr. Taft, the fact must not be overlooked that sentiment does not always pro
duce results. In these days of practical politics it is organization which counts effectively. At the present time Vice-President Fairbanks has the most extensive organization. Mr. Fairbanks is an experienced and wise politician. First of all, he is from Indiana, which is the nursery of shrewd political manipulators, and in addition to this he has the advantage of long association with the late Senator Hanna, who was, unquestionably, one of the most successful political managers this country has ever known. It is true that in some quarters Mr. Fairbanks's candidacy is not regarded seriously. My own opinion is that any discussion which fails to take Mr. Fairbanks into serious consideration is not based upon due appreciation of the political situation. Mr. Fairbanks is, alone of all the candidates, actively working to secure the nomination. He has had his emissaries travelling through the South, where they have been in conference with the Republican leaders; and he has taken occasion to visit some of the Western States in order to confer personally with influential men. It might be said, too, that Mr. Fairbanks occupies a most favorable position. He is not demonstrative nor impulsive and he has few enemies, while, on the other hand, his even-tempered, genial disposition has made him a host of friends. He is regarded with favor by the financial and commercial interests, who know that he is conservative; while he has always manifested a spirit of friendliness and fairness to the laboring classes. All these things are mentioned because they are factors in Mr. Fairbanks's candidacy. Whether they will have weight in the final round-up or whether Mr. Roosevelt's personal popularity will carry everything before it and result in the nomination of a candidate whom he is known to regard with especial favor is a question which cannot be answered at this time.
From the present outlook the next Republican nominee will be either Mr. Taft or Mr. Fairbanks. The nominee must come from the West, inasmuch as the present occupant of the White House is an Eastern man, and outside of Taft and Fairbanks there is no one in the Western field who is available save Mr. Cannon, whose age may bar him from consideration. It looks as if history would repeat itself in that Ohio or Indiana would furnish the Presidential candidate. It would not be surprising if New York was represented on the ticket in the person of Governor Hughes, although conditions in New York are hardly sufficiently settled to afford ground for definite judgment.