To Benjamin Ide Wheeler
Bethel, 18 [November, 1920]
My dear B. I.,—From both ends of this continent we talk to each other. We have both retired from active things and can with some degree of removal, and from some altitude, look upon the affairs of men. Frankly, it challenges all my transcendental philosophy to convince me that “deep love lieth under these pictures of time.” And yet I must so believe or die. It is a disheartening time— Wilson, a wreck and beaten. Clemenceau, beaten and out. And now Venizelos gone. Only Lloyd George, the crafty, quick-turning, sometimes-lying, never-wholly-frank politician left, because he called his election when spirits had not fallen.
And little men take their places, while Bolshevism drives Wrangel into the sea, possesses all Russia and Siberia, and is a success politically and militarily, tho’ a failure economically and socially. We have passed the danger of red anarchy in America, I think, tho’ no one should prophesy as to any event of to-morrow. Communism, and socialism with it, have been made to pause. Yet nothing constructive is opened by the world for men to think upon, as a means of bettering their lot and answering the questions flung to them by Russia, Germany, England, and our own home conditions.
I can see no evidence of constructive statesmanship on this side the water, excepting in Hoover. The best man in Congress is Lenroot, and he writes me that unless the Republicans do something more than fail to make mistakes that the Democrats will take the power from them in another four years. But I am nothing for parties. I cannot wait for an opposition to come in. I would like to see the Republicans now address themselves to the problems of the world at large and of this land. If Knox is to be Secretary of State, as the rumor is, we will have Steel Trust Diplomacy,—which will give us safety abroad, which is more than we have had for some years—but it will be without vision, without love for mankind. Root would give the Republicans great assurance and confidence. He would make them smack their lips and feel that Harding was not afraid of the best near him. Hoover may or may not have a Cabinet place, but his brain is the best thing working in America to-day, on our questions. If Penrose and Co. beat him they will regret it,
If I were Harding I’d put Root, Lowden, Wood, Hoover, and Johnson if he wanted it, into my Cabinet and I’d gather all the men of mind in the country and put them at work on specific questions as advisors to me, under Cabinet officers. One group on Taxes and Finance, one on Labor and Capital, one on Internal Improvements, one on Education and Health. And have a program agreeable to Congress, which is sterile because it is a messenger-boy force for constituents.