A group of people were recently discussing whether every Presidential election since 1860 had been the most important election since 1860. We do not propose to add 1920 to the list. If a man were to prophesy about 1920 he would say that unless there is a surprising clarification of the issues in the next few months we shall elect a President in 1920 on slogans and attitudes that will seem peculiarly irrelevant in 1922 and 1923 and after. For good or evil the fact is that we are not now asked to choose between policies.
Early in November, 1864, immediately after his reelection, President Lincoln made a brief speech upon the results of the election which compares in substance, if not in form, with the Gettysburg address and the Second Inaugural. In a few pregnant phrases he sketched what the peculiar dangers were which are bound to beset a democracy when engaged in a serious war.
The bland manner is extremely useful in some difficult situations, social and political, and it is as foolish to criticize a man for employing it as it would be to criticize a photographer for working in a dim light. The bland manner enables a physician to pursue his treatment without defining its object too clearly, often the condition of success. But there are other situations where the attempt to deal in sedatives is peculiarly unsuitable.
Few American Presidents have been more profoundly distrusted and more entirely misinterpreted by their opponents than Mr. Wilson, except perhaps Mr. Roosevelt, and the two men have been distrusted by much the same classes in American society and misinterpreted, if not for the same, at least for similar reasons. They both of them sought to accomplish a group of salutary reforms in the operation of the American political and economic system and in the prevailing use and distribution of political power.
Mr. Hughes had complicated work to do last Monday at Carnegie Hall. There was the usual task of the candidate, which is to be all things to sufficiently many men, and added to it the inner necessity, more imperative to Mr. Hughes than to most, of being true to his own instincts. He had to represent the Roosevelt propaganda, the Republican party's desire to win, and his personal relations to American politics. He managed with considerable skill to find the least common denominator of all three. Mr. Roosevelt sat in a box, and scattered through the hall were many who still wanted Teddy.
THERE is a catchy reasonableness about the German-American argument that our neutrality is unreal unless we forbid the export of arms. Germany having lost command of the sea, American traffic in war supplies helps the Allies. If the position were reversed, our neutrality would still be impugned, but not by the German-Americans, and we should be written down as the partner of "Teutonic" militarism. Partisans aside, there is, we believe, a growing body of pacifist opinion, represented by men of the ability and character of Dr.