Political Scumbags

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Political Scumbags

J. Parnell Thomas

The name J. Parnell Thomas (1895-1970) is mostly unknown today but 70 years ago the seven term Republican Congressman from New Jersey was an outspoken mem­ber of the House UnAmerican Activ­ities Committee [HUAC) which held nine days of hearings into possible communist in­flu­ence in the film industry.

From that came The Hollywood Ten, a group of screen­writers (several doubling as director or producer), cited for contempt, fined and sentenced to prison terms.

But that's not the "scumbag" part!

Post-World War II, Thomas called for demobil­izing the American military and in 1946, he invited General Dwight Eisenhower to his office to discuss the contentious issue.

As journalist/author David Halberstam related in The Fifties, in 1946, as part of his effort to rapidly reduce the size of the U.S. military, when Eisenhower arrived he was faced with a table surrounded by soldier's wives, many with infants in arms.

It was a stealthily engineered "photo-op" in which news photographers snapped photos of the furious future President.

It was just one of the reasons why many Americans quietly cheered two years later when Thomas was indicted on charges of conspiracy to defraud the government, convicted and sentenced to 18 months in Federal prison.

(Thomas' underlying crime involved placing friends and relatives in Goverment jobs in return for sharing in their salaries.)

Ironically, outgoing Democratic President Harry S. Truman issued the ex-Congressman a Christmas pardon in 1952.

Perhaps I should've entitled this OtBB entry, "Political Scumbags, '40s Edition."


1. FJ Markowitz said...

I can recall my father saying nasty things about this fellow as when I was a kid we lived in Jersey; he was big in Bergen County which was solidly Republican then.

Your Dad was an astute fellow!

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