- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 14, 2000

"American Dreamer: A Life of Henry A. Wallace" is, according to the book jacket, the "first full biography of Henry A. Wallace." It is not. What it is is a cover-up of the Wallace political record forever stained by his support of Joseph Stalin and Stalin's American Communist Party. Wallace was onetime secretary of agriculture, Franklin Roosevelt's vice president during his third term and later secretary of commerce until fired in 1946 by President Truman. He held other important posts and at one time could be said to have been one of the most powerful political figures in the United States. But his finger was forever on the button marked, "self-destruct."

The authors call Wallace an "American dreamer." Really. Was Wallace talking in his sleep when in a 1948 appearance before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, he said: "I would say that the Communists are the closest things to the early Christian martyrs," or when as the 1948 presidential candidate of the Progressive Party, Stalin's wholly owned subsidiary, he said "the life of Christ is strangely parallel to the doctrines of Communism"?

Was Wallace dreaming when in 1947 he offered this endorsement of Stalin's totalitarian regime: "It would be unfortunate for world peace if anything happens inside Russia to upset its system of government at the present time." Or when he defended Stalin's satellization of Eastern Europe? Some dreamer.

You won't find these quotations in John C. Culver's and John Hyde's biography. Nor will you find any reference to the now public documentation in the "Venona" decrypts about Laurence Duggan, a high State Department official identified as a KGB agent. Duggan traveled with Vice President Wallace as his "adviser" on Wallace's 1943 "goodwill" Latin American mission.

Nor will you find anything about the Communist Party affiliation of C.B. (Beany) Baldwin, the man who managed Wallace's short-lived, post-Cabinet political career. In his oral history, recorded after his break with the communists in 1950, Wallace conceded that he now thought Baldwin had been a communist. The biographers had access to the Wallace oral history but ignored Wallace's admission about Baldwin.

Keep in mind that this is a biography of an American politician who, had he not been dropped as the 1944 Democratic vice-presidential candidate, would have become president of the United States on April 12, 1945, the day that FDR died of a cerebral hemorrhage. Had Wallace become president, I say without hesitation that Stalin would have had his own man in the White House. Proof? Wallace was forever inveighing against Winston Churchill and the British empire but somehow overlooked the colonial empire Stalin was creating in Eastern Europe Bulgaria, Romania, Poland, Czechoslovakia, and Hungary.

Wallace denounced Sen. Arthur Vandenberg's "inflammatory" speeches but conveniently ignored the inflammatory speeches by Cominform spokesmen like Politburo member Andrei Zhdanov. Wallace defended Stalin's seizure of democratic Czechoslovakia in 1948, saying the it was merely a pre-emptive coup to prevent a U.S.-supported right-wing takeover engineered by the American ambassador.

When Stalin imposed a Soviet blockade of Berlin, Wallace suggested we give up Berlin in the search for "peace." He opposed the NATO alliance and called the Marshall Plan the "Martial Plan." He endorsed for re-election a New York congressman, the communist Vito Marcantonio, as having "the best voting record of all 435 members of Congress." Wallace was fearful of a "bipartisan American fascism" but to be fearful of communism was to be a red-baiting warmonger. In a 1940 speech made as FDR's vice presidential candidate, he said, "… you can be sure that every Nazi, every Hitlerite, and every appeaser is a Republican."

George Orwell might have been thinking of Wallace when he wrote: "The sin of nearly all left-wingers from 1933 onwards is that they have wanted to be anti-Fascist without being anti-totalitarian."

How do we explain this man, who died a millionaire thanks to his genius as a scientific chicken breeder and plant geneticist and his commercialization Pioneer Hi-Bred International of high-yield hybrid corn? How do we explain this Iowa farmer-editor, scion of a distinguished family in the state, who in accord with the communist propaganda line, found much to be said in favor of what he called Stalin's "economic democracy" as against our excessive "Bill of Rights democracy"?

The most charitable view of Wallace would be that he was a religious nut, the Holy Fool character in Russian culture, a would-be mystic engaged in what his biographers describe as "spiritual window-shopping." Born a Presbyterian, he studied astrology, theosophy, Buddhism, Judaism, Confucianism, Zoroastrianism, Islam and Christian Science. He engaged in a demented correspondence with another so-called mystic, a Russian expatriate painter named Nicholas Roerich about the Second Coming on the plains of Mongolia.

Had these letters been made public by the Republican Party as they might have been during the 1940 presidential campaign, they could easily have defeated FDR's third-term bid. It was the Roerich letters which I believe persuaded Roosevelt and the big city bosses to drop Wallace from the ticket in favor of Harry Truman.

But Wallace was more than a religious nut. He was a paranoid religious nut who in his oral history says the forces which "moved against me strongly through specific individuals were Tory Britain, the Roman Catholic Church, Reactionary Capitalism, the Nationalist Chinese …"

And how did it all end? In June 1950 following the communist invasion of South Korea, Wallace broke with the Soviet Union and blamed the war on Stalin. He endorsed President Eisenhower for re-election in 1956 against Adlai Stevenson and indirectly supported Richard M. Nixon against John F. Kennedy in 1960. Go figure.

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