Hypothetical Debate: Would You Support the Nomination of Robert A Leffingwell

This scenario is taken from Advise and Consent by Allan Drury

It is the middle of the Cold War and the President of the United States, a Democrat [1], has nominated a new Secretary of State-Robert A Leffingwell. However controversy surrounds the nomination. It is soon revealed Leffingwell was part of a Communist cell as a youth and that he lied in the hearings about it. In addition Leffingwell’s current views favour accomadation and appeasement with the Soviet Union. So would you support the Senate advising and consenting to the nomination of Robert A Leffingwell?

[1] While not explicitly stated, it is strongly implied the President and the Majority Party is the Democratic Party

I would personally oppose Leffingwell’s nomination not so much for his past actions but for his present political views and his lying to the Congressional hearings.

I would oppose it on the grounds that the Sec’y of State should be sufficiently well-informed to know that the Soviet Union went belly up two decades ago.

Thats what they want us to think.

Wasn’t Condaleeza Rice part of some communist group as a young person?

This situation assumes the Cold War is still happening.

The real-life analog to Leffingwell was Henry Wallace. Wallace started out as a libeeral Republican, supported Franklin Roosevelt, became a Democrat, was appointed Secretary of Agriculture and then became FDR’s vice president.

While he was Vice President, Wallace’s pro-Soviet Union views began to diverge from FDR’s and mainstream Democrats. With the encouragement of party leadership, Roosevelt dropped him from the Democratic ticket in 1944, replacing him with Harry Truman. As a consolation prize, Roosevelt appointed Wallace to be Secretary of Commerce, where he served until 1946, when Truman, also disappointed by Wallace’s philosophy, fired him.

The bottom line is that Leffingwell’s views probably would have kept a real-world, Cold War-era president from nominating him in the first place.

By the way, the difference between the book and the movie was, in the moive, the Senate was deadlocked on the confirmation, but the President died before the VP could cast the tie-breaking vote. The VP then withdrew Leffingwell’s nomination, saying he’d prefer to choose his own SoS.

Wallace later ran for president on the Progressive ticket in 1948, essentially on an anti-Cold-War platform. In 1952, he declared himself an anti-Communist and published a book, Where I Was Wrong.

Well, that’s nice. Problem is, in politics it’s more important to be right at the time than to make amends for being wrong.

I wouldn’t consider it important. There’s simply no way that he could make America overly friendly or trusting of the USSR even if he was an outright KGB sleeper agent. It would be like worrying that a particular Catholic bishop has a secret agenda to make the church an atheistic organization - it just isn’t going to happen.

I don’t know. All I know is that power is not a reward we give to good children.

Oops, that’s a line from The Best Man. Had my Fonda political thrillers mixed up.