by Bodwyn Wook
WE May not like his political ideas, and it is remarkably easy to see in him — in the stubborn grandiosity of that little pugnacious spirit — the same sort of gnawing emptiness at work as in the distinctly needy souls of all three of our postmodern American Baby Boom Presidents, three generations on….
AS Well, FDR certainly looked down on him from on high, especially as Huey Long became discussed in the mid-1930s as a Presidential possibility. So for that matter did the Louisiana quasi-francophone south-state Louisiana elite, who nonetheless did not possess the Hudson Valley Dutchman’s canny appreciation of Long’s brassy popular sops to the masses, of “free” money “from off of the government” and proposed stringing up thieving Standard Oil CEOs. This was the perfect stock in trade of The Kingfish’s utterance, and he let fly with both barrels of it at every popular county fair opportunity for brassy public speechifying. Now President Roosevelt of course was perfectly willing to deal at long distance in fireside radio flummery and fiat currency, but when Huey Long, Governor and now US Senator on his way to the White House, was gunned down in the statehouse in Baton Rouge on September 8th, 1935, not a few people professed to smell the tedious rat of yet another Rooseveltean long-tailed plot.
Ironically enough in view of today’s anachronistic hullaballoo about “national” “health” “care”, Huey Long allegedly was done in by a doctor. Others claim that Long, who some said had a lifelong fear of physical fighting, was only socked in the nose by Dr Weiss, and that members of Long’s disaffected bodyguard rushed at the opportunity of unloading fifty or sixty (!) pistol shots, to take out both the hapless toady Weiss and the excoriated wretched Long.
WE Shall never know now, perhaps, but the best biography of Long — it is a long one, too! — remains T Harry William’s 1969 account, Huey Long.
As to Dr Karl Jacob Weiss, he was by marriage a ragtag and bobtail hanger-on at the crumbling edge of the south Louisiana upper crust and supposedly did the deed because his father-in-law, a judge, had lost his trough-place for opposing Long’s distinctly un-Republican and hardly libertarian policies, and so getting his fool self canned therefore.
The fact remains that Long had an authentic political genius of his own — it was the essence of his emotional needs — and although he may have been in the game only to get to be noticed, to be loved even as Adolph Hitler and Winston Churchill and Old Reagen were loved (and Stalin, at least after the demise of the Soviet Union), erstwhile President of the United States Huey Long in his political half-career posed the questions anew in his day that any politician or party convincingly must answer, in one way or the other:
“Where are the schools that you have waited for your children to have, that have never come?
“Where are the roads and the highways that you send your money to build, that are no nearer now than ever before?
“Where are the institutions to care for the sick and disabled?
“Your tears in this country have lasted for generations. Give me the chance to dry the eyes of those who still weep here.”
— Huey Long, 1928
NEEDLESS To say the sarcastic Sage of Baltimore, the sainted H L Mencken, loved it all, the blowhard passionate bragging, the bouncily sincere bullshit and the shamelessly playful fiscal hocus-pocus, and so here for all true believers in the ideal outcome of “Every Man A King!” and “Here’s a dollar for your vote, Your Highness, thank you!” is the Huey Long website:
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[9 September 2009]