August 22, 2009


(Sen. Claude Pepper - withstood many attempts at mud-slinging)

It's always interesting (and sometimes gratifying) to hear Sunday Morning talk shows from the past, just as a way of reminding yourself things were never as bad as they are now with mainstream media.

Case in point is certainly Meet The Press. Originally begun in 1946 as a feature on the Mutual Broadcast System Radio Network before switching to NBC in 1947, it was the brainchild of Martha Rountree and Lawrence Spivak and produced in association with American Mercury Magazine (of which Spivak was Publisher), Meet The Press pulled no punches and offered some serious grilling to whatever guest happened to be invited on. It prided itself in not asking canned questions and sometimes the results were newsworthy in themselves.

This episode, from November 27, 1947 features Senator Claude Pepper (D-Florida), himself an outspoken FDR Democrat, talking about our Post-war foreign aid policy and what needed to be done about it in view of the increasing presence of Communism in Eastern Europe.

Sen. Claude Pepper: “I’m in favor of spreading democracy in every part of the world. But there are many ways to spread democracy. You can’t cram democracy down the throats of people. And you can’t buy them off from Communism. We haven’t got enough money to buy the people of the world off from Communism. The best way, in my opinion, to spread democracy is to establish democracy so firmly here, that we’ll be able to propagate it to all nations and peoples of the world, we’ll be able to help them, we’ll set them a good example and the like . . not to buy them or cram it down their throats. . .

Lawrence Spivak: “ . . but certainly Senator we oughtn’t help those who are spreading totalitarianism . . or should we?

Pepper: Mister Spivak, we and the Communists have been living in this world a good many years together. Karl Marx started talking about Communism as you know in the last century. And it seems to me that unless we are willing to be blown to some other world to get away from a world where communism exists, we’ve got to live in a world with Communism. And they’ve got to live in a world with Capitalism. And the sensible thing to do is to learn to live together. We’ve got to live together whether we like it or not.”

Needless to say, Pepper didn't endear himself to the right wing fear mongers in the Senate, who nicknamed him "Red Pepper" and repeatedly attempted to smear him during the 1950's.

Times have changed - so have the people and so have the politicians.

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