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Thursday, April 18, 2013

Harry Hopkins: Asshat

      "Among the Americans who saw themselves as War-Wagers was the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Robert Sherwood, destined to collaborate closely with Stephenson.  Sherwood had gained fame as an antiwar writer.  But with the evidence of Nazi evil before him, he confessed sadly that war was not the worst tragedy.  In that grim summer of 1940, he was promoting aid for Britain when he was tackled by Harry Hopkins, who was to become the President's ambassador-at-large.
       'What are you warmongers plotting now?' Hopkins demanded.
      Sherwood replied that he was helping Stephenson get fifty old American destroyers.  Hopkins protested that, with an election coming up, such public demands embarrassed Roosevelt.  The playwright shrugged and said some of his colleagues were persuading Roosevelt's rivals to adopt the proposal too.  Anyway, it was in line with the President's general policy.
      'What do you know about his policy?' snapped Hopkins.  'You know this country is neutral.'
       Sherwood told Stephenson later that he was shaken by evidence that someone so close to the President should be a narrow-minded isolationist.
       Hopkins remarked further, in curt terms, 'The whole country's isolationist except for a few pro-British fanatics like you.  If the President gave up fifty destroyers, how d'you suppose he'd keep the confidence of the people?'
       Sherwood answered hotly: 'You don't give the people credit for sense.  They're a damn-sight more anti-Nazi than you think.  It's time Roosevelt plucked up courage to speak frankly the way he's done before.'
       A sudden grin spread over Hopkins's lean face.  'Then why waste your breath shouting at me?  Say these things to the people yourself.'  A Man Called Intrepid by William Stevenson pg. 142-43

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