Who drafts the Executive Orders Trump signs

President and Dealmaker

Trump over the White House, episode 2

Part 1: "America will rise again": Trump over the White House

The second part of this story about a (fictional) dictator in the White House provides answers to the following questions: How do you get the unwilling Europeans to pay for the defense costs themselves instead of being left on the American taxpayers' pockets? - Why does the US ambassador in Athens wear shorts? - And, last but not least, how do you install the President's mistress in the White House even though the censor has forbidden it?

Dr. James Wingate, as head of the Studio Relations Department (SRD) the governor of Will Hays in Hollywood, was as little to be envied as his predecessor, Colonel Jason Joy, who had given up in exasperation. When Wingate took up his new post in October 1932, he was immediately confronted with Paramount's plans to Diamond Lil to make a film, the piece that made Mae West an overwhelming success on Broadway. The critics were also quite impressed. Transferred to the canvas regulated by the Production Code, however, even the modified and toned down version was a scandal.

From Diamond Lil to the Bonus Army

Diamond Lil is a singer in a saloon in San Francisco before the great earthquake and knows a lot of men (and possibly women) very personally. In the movie version, She Done Him Wrong, she had to be called Lady Lou to erase the memory of the piece. Cary Grant tries to dig out a girl trafficking ring and comes into the saloon as an undercover cop. At one point, West and Grant meet to exchange two famous sentences. "Have you never met a man who can make you happy?" Asks the policeman. "Sure," replies Lady Lou, "quite often." If the policeman arrests the singer, it doesn't necessarily seem like a punishment.

Father Daniel Lord protested again because the film violated the moral code with which he had so labored. Hays admitted that She Done Him Wrong contains much of what worries him too. The audience came in droves. She Done Him Wrong is said to have saved Paramount from bankruptcy. Money was an excellent argument. Management told Hays that it was imperative for the Paramount to survive that a sequel immediately followed suit, the Mae West vehicle I'm no angel. For Hays ’ambassador to Hollywood, that was just one of many problems.

In January 1933, Dr. Wingate gave the script written by Wilson, Wanger, and Hearst Gabriel Over the White House on the table. He read and was perplexed. Somehow there was an angel, but primarily it was about a president who installs his lover in the White House as a private secretary and then sends Congress, a useless debating booth for party soldiers, egoists and stupid idiots, on vacation to become a dictator to fight gangsterism and the economic crisis. Not only did the story seem rather fascistoid to Wingate, it was an attack on two of the system's three hallowed pillars, government and family.

A wide range of possible consequences opened up in Wingate's mind's eye. He warned Irving Thalberg and Louis B. Mayer of MGM that Republicans might feel offended, and Congress in general. The MPs might want to reciprocate and pass laws to the detriment of the film industry. Gabriel Over the White House is a "dangerous substance" (February 16, 1933). Wingate had written to Hays beforehand to prepare him for what was already being planned.

The march of the unemployed to Washington was a stumbling block. For the censors it was way too close to reality. The model was the "Bonus Army", which fueled fears of a communist revolution in the summer of 1932, but also of a military coup. In 1924, Congress passed a law requiring WWI veterans to receive bonuses based on length and location of military service, up to a maximum of $ 625. Amounts in excess of $ 50 were paid out in the form of certificates of entitlement that would not be redeemable until 20 years later, in 1945.

Veterans unemployed during the Great Depression requested immediate payout. But President Hoover's primary goal was budget consolidation. He rejected the request on the grounds that redeeming the notes would put too much strain on the state budget and endanger the country's economic recovery. Thereupon 17,000 veterans (many of them armed) marched with members of their families and sympathizers (a total of around 43,000 people are believed to have been) to Washington to give their demands greater emphasis.

People's conscience

The bonus marchers camped some distance from the government district in Washington, in a swamp near the Anacostia River. There they put on what would be called a tent city a euphemism because the camp consisted mainly of materials that the demonstrators had found in a landfill. Everything was tightly organized from a military point of view, but there were also attacks and smaller raids through the area, as the people had to live off something.

On July 28, 1932, the Attorney General ordered the police to evacuate the camp (in William Wellmans Wild Boys of the Road this is re-enacted, on a smaller scale and with homeless youth instead of veterans). The police did little to achieve but shot the bonus marchers, killing two of them. Hoover now instructed General Douglas MacArthur to bring the situation under control with the help of cavalry and infantry. The officers reporting to the general included Dwight D. Eisenhower, commander-in-chief of the Allied Forces in Europe during World War II and then 34th US President and George S. Patton, the enfant terrible of the US Army.

MacArthur attacked the camp on the grounds that he had seen the threat of a communist-initiated insurrection. When Hoover found out about this, he instructed the already arrogant general to stop. MacArthur ignored the order and attacked again. In the end there were at least 55 civilians injured, possibly many more, and numerous arrests. One woman suffered a miscarriage. An infant died in the hospital, likely as a result of tear gas use.

Hoover refused to take disciplinary action against MacArthur (that wasn't done until Harry S. Truman did so in the Korean War when he retired the general for once again failing to recognize the president's authority). After that, he stood there as the man responsible for using bayonets and tear gas to attack American veterans by American soldiers. It was whispered in Washington that he had waived disciplinary proceedings against MacArthur because he was afraid of him.

During the election campaign, Roosevelt made fun of the president, whose insides are made of jelly. Jud Hammond in Gabriel Over the White House is completely different. The bonus army is called "Army of the Unemployed" in the film. When Brooks, his Secretary of State, insists on using the army against the unemployed, the president fires him. "Gentlemen," he says to the perplexed ministers, "I suggest that you read the United States Constitution. You will find that the President has some power."

He told the press that he fired Brooks because he was "an old-fashioned politician". New times are dawning now. The president is no longer guided by laws, but by what he calls "public conscience", or perhaps "public conscience": "This cabinet, every member of Congress, every incumbent is directly related to the public conscience responsible to. " The rule of law can thus to the files. The president alone determines what the "public conscience" is.

Gangsters and generals

Since the dictatorship is to be made palatable to the public, the president naturally only does what is good and right. Hammond orders the Secretary of War to provide food, medicine and tents to the unemployed rather than shooting at them and forcibly breaking camp. During World War I, he says, tons of food were given to starving Russians, Chinese and Belgians. Something like this must also be possible for Americans. (Incidentally, Belgium is a country in Europe, even if Donald Trump shrank to - after all - a "beautiful city" during an election campaign appearance in Atlanta.)

That sounds good at first, but it has its pitfalls. The film states on several occasions that Americans would be much better off if they took care of themselves first rather than others. This is a popular tool in populism. The others are to blame, the foreigners preferably. If you like that, you should take into account that such models of explaining the world are based on playing off individual groups against each other. That never stops. Before you know it, you yourself are one of the guilty parties.

In Gabriel Over the White House it is the Europeans, the corrupt elites and the gangsters, because of whom the world is in trouble and the people have to starve. One wonders a bit about the prominent importance of the gangsters. The deposed ministers try to conspire against the president, but his most dangerous opponent is a mafioso named Nick Diamond. The actor, C. Henry Gordon, could make a good Al Capone doppelganger if he were plump.

The gangster owes its name to the legendary Jack "Legs" Diamond, also known as "Gentleman Jack", who could no longer sue because he was shot in December 1931 (the best film about it is The Rise and Fall of Legs Diamond by Budd Boetticher). That makes it clear that there was a strong commercial aspect to it. With gangsters and submachine guns, the story could be spiced up and the danger of that avoided Gabriel Over the White House turned into a political seminar.

The fight against organized crime - or rather, President Hoover's failure in this area - was a favorite topic of the Hearst press. It wasn't entirely unselfish. With sensational reports on brutal gangsters, the circulation could be magnificently increased. Hearst countered allegations that he was glorifying crime out of greed for profit by also having reports printed on noble police officers who, in addition to the gangsters, also had to struggle with a corrupt system and the consequences of wrong political decisions.

In the wake of the censorship debate in the early 1930s, voices calling for a general ban on gangster films grew louder. Hollywood responded with films that turned the tables but retained the successful narrative pattern. Gangsters became police officers. The prototype is The Beast of the City, a Cosmopolitan production from 1932. Walter Huston plays a police chief who cares little more about the law than the criminals and is at least as brutal and ruthless as these, but for the sake of the good cause, of course.

Like Huston as President Hammond in Gabriel Over the White House We'll see the gangsters put down their business later (in the third part). For now he is dealing with his war minister and a general (think of MacArthur) who want the military to move against the "army of the unemployed". Hammond forbids that. Nick Diamond's people then shoot at the demonstrators. One could almost get the idea that the general is one of the gangsters too, or would act like one if there was a less powerful president.

Letting the criminals and not the army shoot at John Bronson, the leader of the unemployed, was also a way out of the dilemma that Hays would never have allowed a scene like the one in July 1932 when MacArthur soldiers fielded with bayonets against alleged communists sent and fought women and children with tear gas.

Dangerous state of mind

For the censors, this did not solve the problem with the protest march. "Should the industry allow the studios in these difficult times," Wingate asked in a letter to Hays (January 30th), "to make films in which large groups of people in need, dissatisfied or unemployed go against the government Mind going to Washington en masse to seek justice? " It is to be expected that such films would undermine the citizens' trust in the government even more and that "radicals and the communists" would feel encouraged by them.

In early March, the real President, Franklin D. Roosevelt, had a rough cut of the film sent to Washington. Then he had change requests, all of which were apparently incorporated. At the suggestion of FDR, the unemployed army is now marching to Baltimore, not Washington. Secretary of State Brooks warns that the mob could suddenly stand in the government district and storm the White House and the Capitol. Baltimore was apparently far enough from the capital that this scenario no longer seemed so unsettling that it should have been completely removed.

The state of mind of the American unemployed was by no means all that Hays and his people had to worry about. Part of his job was to see the big picture. That's why the next construction site opened up straight away. President Hammond wants to force Europe to pay off debt. In the USA that was a hot topic. The facts are confusing. The starting point was the First World War. The majority of the allied victorious countries had to borrow money (well over $ 20 billion in total) in order to finance the mutual slaughter. The donor countries were the USA and Great Britain, which in turn took out loans from the Americans. After the war there was an argument.

The Russian revolutionaries refused to pay off the debt of the tsarist empire. The other states were playing zero-sum games that didn't work properly. Countries like France only wanted to pay what they received in the form of reparations to which Germany had committed itself in the Treaty of Versailles. Since Germany was bankrupt, the USA and Great Britain received nothing in return. It was doubly annoying for the Americans, because the British were in the black with them too. The British declared that they only wanted to demand as much from the Germans and the victorious Allied powers as they themselves paid the Americans.

The United States had signed the Versailles Treaty, but in 1920 Congress refused to ratify it. The Americans then rejected a link between war debts and reparations. That made things even more complicated. In 1924 they agreed on a plan devised by the later Nobel Peace Prize laureate and US Vice President Charles G. Dawes, which stipulated that the level of German reparations payments should be based on the economic and stability development of the Weimar Republic year after year. The Dawes Plan also contained a set of instruments for granting loans to German companies.

Germany was now in a position to pay reparations for the time being, and the Allies paid off part of their debts to the USA. Then came the Great Depression, which the American government found it difficult to deal with because Herbert Hoover had made the mistake of bringing the banker Andrew Mellon into his cabinet as Treasury Secretary. Mellon thought that a crisis-hit country could be managed like a money house. That only made things worse.

Hoover himself, US President from 1929 to 1933, didn't just sit around idly in the White House or say platitudes, even if it's often portrayed that way. Every now and then he tried something. He just wasn't lucky. A really bad idea was to sign the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act in 1930, named after its initiators: Senator Reed Smoot from Utah and Willis C. Hawley, a member of the House of Representatives from Oregon.

debt cut

Smoot-Hawley saw salvation in protecting the American economy from foreign competition through protectionist measures. Donald Trump, who was inspired by economics professor Peter Navarro, is planning something like that. Navarro is the author of several books in which he warns of the Chinese danger. Death by China: Confronting the Dragon there is also a film that you should have seen if you want to get an idea of ​​what Trump - presumably - thinks. Navarro has hired Martin Sheen, who was television president from 1999 to 2006 (The West Wing).

The President-elect Trump has announced that Chinese imports will be subject to drastic punitive tariffs and those from other countries as well, because this is for the good of American industry and American workers. If the program is as successful as Smoot-Hawley, the American worker will have to wrap up warm. In 1930 US import duties were increased sharply on more than 20,000 products.Other countries responded with retaliatory measures and, in turn, increased import tariffs on American products. There were calls for boycotts everywhere.

After a brief flash in the pan (wages and industrial production rose temporarily in the United States), world trade collapsed. In 1933 it had shrunk by two thirds. Monocausal explanations are usually far too simple, but there is little doubt that Smoot-Hawley made the Great Depression even worse. This led to political instability and the rise of dictators around the world. Even the American worker was worse off after Smoot-Hawley than before. In 1933, when Hoover was replaced by Roosevelt, the unemployment rate more than tripled from 1930.

But we were here now with the war debts. There were also economic experts who talked like a mantra about the importance of market confidence. In order to restore this confidence and avoid a collapse of Germany, in which much American capital was hidden, Hoover proposed a moratorium. The payment of war debts and reparations should be suspended for a year. The Germans liked that and hoped that it would be the beginning of the end of reparations. The French were against it for the same reason.

After tough bargaining, the Hoover moratorium came into effect on July 6, 1931. The effect immediately fizzled out because a few days later the Dresdner Bank collapsed. In order to stop the rush of customers to the financial institutions, the Reich government declared July 14th and 15th to be bank holidays. The German banking crisis also exacerbated the global economic crisis.

After the moratorium expired, at the Lausanne Conference (June 16 to July 9, 1932), the creditor states admitted that Germany would not be able to make reparation payments again anytime soon. The participants agreed to cancel the lion's share of the reparations and to extend the payment of the remaining three billion gold marks over many years. The Lausanne Treaty was only to come into force once an agreement had also been reached on the war loans granted by the USA. There was never such a thing.

The German Reich was de facto rid of the reparations (but not its debts, which still existed), although the corresponding treaty was never ratified. You can guess how it went on. Without reparations there is also no debt service. The UK, France and the other allies refused to send money back to the Americans. At that time, a good 10 percent of the $ 26.5 billion had been paid off. The rest is still open today. Donald Trump would have something to talk to the Europeans about when he ran out of topics to talk about. We already know how big his body is.


How was that again? Who paid when how much to whom and why or not? Who was to blame and for what exactly? For populists, the complexity of the world that is expressed was a hit. Your version was very simple: The American people went hungry during the economic crisis. The misery could have been alleviated or ended entirely if the Europeans had paid their debts. But instead of paying, the Europeans involved the Americans in excruciatingly long conferences, from which Uncle Sam emerged as a fleeced joke. That excited the minds.

Incidentally, there were also Americans who were embarrassed by the discussion that their compatriots were having with growing passion. To them it looked like the United States only went into the war to make money. The Nazis and other right wing groups in the German Reich poured fuel on the fire. The remaining sum of three billion gold marks was far too high for them. Above all, however, they had expected that the armaments ban contained in the Versailles Treaty would also fall with the reparations. There was great shouting after Lausanne because that had not happened.

That added another facet to the story told by the American populists. The Europeans did not pay their war debts because they preferred to put the money into sinfully expensive battleships in order to wage war again soon. This is what it said in Hearst's revolver blades and this is how it can be seen in the film. This is not a wonder. Hearst had written the appropriate dialogue for the president. The man who rearmed the most from 1933 onwards did not appear in the "narrative" of the populists. Hitler was fine because the debts of the victorious powers were disputed, not the reparations of the losers.

In Gabriel Over the White House President Hammond convenes an international debt conference. Originally, he was supposed to meet with delegates from other countries on a US Navy warship. Roosevelt advised that the conference be held on a civilian yacht. It turned out to be a pretty big yacht, with loads of soldiers in uniform. It shouldn't be too civil then. At the beginning, the President surprised the delegates by announcing that the conference would be broadcast live on the radio and that it would be broadcast worldwide.

You speak more carefully, says Hammond, when you know that the people are listening. One of the US war aims was to put an end to secret diplomacy and negotiate contracts in public, not behind closed doors. That will now be implemented. Behind this is the idea, which I personally like very much, that everything will automatically get better through maximum transparency. This is very topical in times when the opponents of TTIP and CETA are complaining about the return of secret diplomacy from the 19th century.

However, I suspect that what the president is doing is just an ingratiation to "the people" that he claims to represent and that they are supposed to be manipulated. It is noticeable that the Tribune of the People Jud Hammond does not rely on the beneficial effects of transparency, but prefers to threaten violence and war. It is sponsored by William Randolph Hearst, who claimed to give the people a voice and ran campaign journalism with his newspaper empire, in which this very people was lied to the bottom line when it was opportune.

Executive order

Donald Trump has promised as President of the dealmaker in chief to be: A state leader who, after tough negotiations, brings out the best possible deal for the country. He and Jud Hammond share a love for media-effective appearances and PR numbers. Trump, however, still acts like a building contractor who solves local problems when he is celebrated for saving 1,000 jobs at a manufacturer of air conditioning systems (in exchange for an annual tax gift from a medium-sized company for which employees are no bargaining chip , would never get). Hammond, on the other hand, is looking for the big stage. It is therefore only logical that he should first solve the problems of the country and then those of the whole world. The latter goes like this:

At the beginning of the debt conference, Hammond reads the riot act to the delegates. Your countries, he says, borrowed money during the war to defend themselves, and now they don't want to repay the debt because they are supposedly too poor. This is at the expense of the American taxpayer, who not only has to pay his own war debts, but also that of the Europeans. The American taxpayer is mentioned four times directly and several times indirectly. Any "tax payer" that comes out of the President's mouth will crack like a whip.

Donald Trump prefers to talk about the American worker rather than the American taxpayer because he doesn't pay any taxes himself, but otherwise it's very reminiscent of his election campaign. In essence, it is the same message: Europeans want security and not be destroyed by the enemy, the Americans have to pay for it. This is over now, say the President in the film and the President-elect. The delegates come up with a few excuses and seem like the president's speech is the usual thunderstorm that one has to endure at such events.

Then one of them suggests a new conference to discuss the matter further. Trump has announced that he will act instead of wasting his time at conferences. Hammond sees it exactly the same way. None of those conferences, he says, where the American eagle regularly comes out of the hall as a plucked bird. In any case, the contracts that are concluded at such conferences are greatly overrated. Trump and Hammond also agree on this.

Trump has promised the American worker the big cash drop. If it turns out that NATO, the UN and the World Trade Organization are a subsidy business, he wants to terminate contracts, cut contributions and use the money saved to create jobs for American miners who can then easily mine coal again because greenhouse gases and the climate catastrophe are an invention of the Chinese. As President he has many options because his powers, by decree (executive order) and to rule past Congress, since 9/11 have been expanded.

George W. Bush instrumentalized the executive order for his "war on terror", and Obama had nothing against interpreting the constitution very generously, because otherwise it would have been much more difficult to wage the drone war or - with disastrous consequences - to intervene in Libya. It's not entirely new. It started with George Washington. Lonely record holder in terms of things executive order is Franklin D. Roosevelt with more than 3,500. His opponents accused him of turning the United States into a dictatorship.

Trump has castigated the government by decree in the election campaign as unconstitutional and announced to put an end to these practices of the Obama administration. Whether this is a promise that he actually keeps or whether he too is taking advantage of the executive order discovered for yourself, will show. Regardless of how useful, counterproductive or even criminal the decrees of a US president may seem, one can learn from history how important the Supreme Court is.

Roosevelt brought the Supreme Court to a tumble when it overturned the National Industrial Recovery Act, a law that allowed the president to regulate the economy to fight deflation, fuel growth and create jobs. Overall, however, the Supreme Court accompanied Roosevelt's actions in government policy very benevolently. This was also due to the fact that from 1937 he was able to nominate nine judges who thought similarly to him in many things. An appointment is valid for life (or until resignation, usually for health and age reasons).

Despotic performance

Hugo Black shows how long such decisions can be effective after a president's term in office. Appointed in 1937, he served on the Supreme Court until a week before his death. Judge Black died in 1971. President Rinehard in Tweed's novel does not want to wait for recalcitrant judges to die, and he is not a murderer either. So he enlarges the Supreme Court until his supporters have a majority. However, this also makes it clear that even a leader figure advised by extraterrestrial powers cannot shatter the democratic state system in one fell swoop.

The film, on the other hand, wants dynamism and not Sisyphus, who struggles with the on the way to dictatorship checks and balances in the US political system. That is why he approves a President Hammond, who rules according to the principle of performative verbs. Performative verbs are those that produce something in the act of speaking. The President-elect is currently showing us how you can put other countries in trouble with phone calls and tweets and quickly destroy a few billion on the stock market. A very simple example of a performative verb is this: "I am naming this presidential aircraft 'Trump'." It has already happened in the act of speaking.

The film demonstrates the principle to us by means of the ministers that Hammond no longer needs because they are "antiquated politicians". "Antiquated" means: you meet secretly in a back room to conspire against the president, who the entire cabinet thinks is crazy. Brooks, the already dismissed Secretary of State and party leader, swears the others to stay silent and put on a false face so that they can more easily remove Hammond, the only true representative of the American people, from office.

Suddenly, Beekman, the president's secretary, is registered. It's a scary moment. Everyone is wondering how Hammond knew about the meeting. I think of J. Edgar Hoover, director of the Bureau of Investigation since 1924. During the making of the film, Hoover did intensive lobbying to gain more skills. In 1935 it paid off. The sniffing authority, now renamed the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), was given more powers and became an independent department in the Justice Department. Roosevelt confirmed Hoover as director despite being urged by many advisors to fire the surveillance and index card fetishist.

After Beekman's surprising appearance in the back room, the film could very well have added a few reflections on what to think of the methods of a president who denounces secrecy in public and appears as a hero of transparency while at the same time allowing his ministers to be spied on . Gabriel Over the White House leaves it at that, however, that the president shows the cabinet what a rake is. Beekman hands each of the gentlemen an envelope asking them to resign. Then he goes again. The required resignation has been completed because Hammond governs performatively.

In the novel, President Rinehard founds the Department of Public Safety, a nationwide federal agency for "upholding the moral standards of life in America." Rinehard wants the law to be "respected, feared and obeyed" again. The department quickly earned a reputation for being extremely efficient, non-partisan, with absolute integrity and free from political influences. In reality, Hearst and Hoover agreed on a cooperation around the turn of 1932/33. Both had realized how useful they could be to each other.

Fight against the rule of law

Hearst got inside information, material for his media and valuable contact in the government apparatus. Hoover got free publicity for his agency and for himself as a director. How little integrity this director was has long been known. Doubts about the efficiency and impartiality of his shop are allowed. There was no doubt about the authority's greatness in the Hearst-produced newsreel. The camera crews of the Metrotone News were constantly visiting the FBI's crime lab to tell the moviegoers what a great job they did.

According to Louis Pizzitola (Hearst Over Hollywood) The Cosmopolitan was involved in the production of 1935 G-Men involved. James Cagney, alongside Edward G. Robinson (Little Caesar) and Paul Muni (Scarface) the most famous gangster actor (The Public Enemy), changes sides as Brick Davis and becomes an FBI agent. At a congressional hearing, Brick's superior makes a passionate plea for finally giving his agency the weapons it needs to fight the crime effectively. That was a scene Hearst loved.

If the FBI man's demands were translated into concrete policy, democracy would be at least as threatened as the bank robbers. In G-Men the rule of law tends to be a hindrance to enforcing law and order. The main difference between Brick Davis and gangsters is that he doesn't work for a crime syndicate, but for the FBI. Instead of shooting at competitors and cops like in The Public Enemy Cagney only shoots gangsters now.

Hearst's newspapers were vigorously promoting G-Men, which was closely tied to their campaign for a tougher fight against crime, irrespective of the rule of law. After initially being reserved, the FBI adopted G-Men very soon as "his film". When it came back to theaters in 1949, it was preceded by a scene in which a senior FBI man had the film shown to budding agents so that they could learn about the agency's history as if it were a documentary.

The occasion for the revival of G-MenYou can always read that it was the 25th anniversary of the FBI. In fact, it was J. Edgar Hoover's 25th anniversary as director. Whether he had a real friendship with Hearst, or whether it was more of a community of interests, is a question of interpretation. In any case, they worked closely together for mutual benefit from 1932/33. From a Cosmopolitan production like Gabriel Over the White House so don't expect any criticism of an FBI-like agency named Federal Police in the movie. The eerie moment remains when everyone wonders who President Hammond is getting his information from.

Last reminder for Maurice Chevalier

The drastic crime scene photos, which FBI chief Hoover expressly welcomed - were printed in Hearst's newspapers were very effective. They satisfied the voyeurism of the public, aroused popular anger and created a sense of ubiquitous threat, which in turn gave greater emphasis to the demand for greater powers for the security forces. Since campaign journalism was a hallmark of Hearst's media empire, it wasn't just the fight against crime.

The America First! Campaign began in 1930 and would last for the decade. The Hearst press called for American products to be bought instead of European imports. The patriotism that was appealed to was poisoned because it was saturated with resentment against foreigners. Hearst's newspapers beat up the European allies who had been saved by the United States in World War I and now refused to pay their debts to the American people. The Americans should get rid of these criminals by not buying anything from them.

The French came off worst in the Hearst press, which is why it was particularly patriotic to give the frog eaters the cold shoulder. That was worrying for Paramount. The studio produced operetta films such as Ernst Lubitschs One hour with you and Rouben Mamoulians Love Me Tonight (both 1932) with the crowd favorite Jeanette MacDonald. Her partner was Maurice Chevalier - an import from France. The America First! Campaign was not helpful for the new dream couple. Chevalier returned to France not only in 1934, but also because of her.

Why were the French so bad? Probably because of this: Hearst was expelled as an undesirable foreigner while on vacation in France in 1930 because his newspapers had published details of a secret naval treaty between France and Great Britain. After that he harbored a grudge against the French. Hearst was like Donald Trump. Miraculously, his private and economic interests were those of the American people. That has to be related to the perspective. If you look down at the others from high above, everything becomes congruent.

It is only too understandable that someone like Hearst, whose business is spreading the news (and hoax), has an aversion to closed-door conferences and secret diplomacy. In his case there was a very personal component. Since the humiliation suffered in France, he was even more angry than before about secret agreements between states. That had consequences for Gabriel Over the White House. Hearst must have been particularly pleased that the president started a transparency offensive and surprised the delegates at the international debt conference with the fact that everything was broadcast live on the radio.

Before the conference began, Hammond asked the American reporters for a press conference. There are fears, he says, that the President of the United States will once again be duped by cunning European politicians. The concern that America will come out of a conference room again with empty pockets is unfounded. Conferences held in rooms are now over. This meeting will not take place in the White House, as usual, but in the public eye, on a yacht (and outdoors).

Hammond's anticipation can be seen when he tells the press about his plan to show the Europeans the military strength of the United States and thus ensure that they finally pay their debts. "These debts," he says, "have to be paid." Then he repeats it twice: "These debts must be paid. These debts must be paid." The question of whether he would risk a war to collect the debt remains unanswered. The alleged main goal of the event, securing world peace through international disarmament, does not seem to be so present to him.

Declaration of bankruptcy

On the yacht, a smug delegate points out to Hammond that he is bound by the signatures his predecessors put under international treaties. Nothing there, replies the President. If the Europeans do not stand up for their own defense and do not provide the contractually guaranteed debt service, that is their moral declaration of bankruptcy. A signature would then no longer have any value and he could declare contracts invalid as he pleased.

Jud Hammond speaks again as a representative of the public consciousness. If the "healthy popular feeling" tells you that something is wrong, then it does not apply, even if it came about according to the law or, as in this case, according to the rules that the world community has agreed on. Not only the choice of words ("declaration of bankruptcy") shows that the film propagates a policy that works according to the rules of the game of economy and markets.

To be precise, Hammond would have to be called a despot, not a dictator. The Greek despótes was the master of house and yard and slaves. In the literal sense of the word, the despot is someone who treats the citizens like slaves and the state like his property. Hammond rules like a homeowner who, if necessary, calls in the handyman and alone decides what to do with the property. If you have problems that cannot be solved in this way, you have people from the other side of the property line. They are then blamed.

So what is still missing in the kit that the populists use to assemble their world with parts? Exactly. External determination. The American signature on a treaty to limit the navy is null and void, says the president. From now on it is America, not the Europeans and the Asians, who decide how many warships it needs to defend its borders. Hammond links this to the ultimate goal of his policy, the balance sheet. The black zero has to be, as one would say today.

In order for the president to balance the budget, Germans, British and French have to pay their debts. A naked man, say the delegates, cannot be put into your pocket. The President has come up with a solution for this. He explains to the whole world that the debtors cannot pay because they prefer to put their money in warships. That is not entirely logical now, because the Europeans are also scolded for not wanting to finance their own defense, but it doesn't matter.

The logical imbalance comes from the fact that the president's concern in Tweed's novel, world peace, was overloaded too much in the film with Hearst's body and stomach topic, foreigners unwilling to pay. However, the filmmakers cannot deny that they have a certain skill in combining one with the other. This is not least thanks to John Huston, who masters with flying colors the task of transforming himself from a vicious debt collector into a state leader worried about the future of mankind (the stupidity of the world robs him of his strength).

Wild animals

For Hammond, the debt conference is an area of ​​dispute in which one does not seek compromises and does not adjourn. One has to leave the place as the winner (Donald Trump is currently communicating this as well). That can only be the American president. If the American taxpayer has to bleed because the other warships are building, Hammond wants to build more warships until he has a fleet that makes the British and French destroyers look "like toy ships in the bathtub".

Then comes the demonstration of strength promised at the press conference. Hammond announces the American "Navy of the Air". A squadron of bombers appears in the sky. The delegates have to watch as the bombers start to dive and sink two discarded warships from the First World War. I still find it oppressive today. Solving the world's problems is very simple, says the President into the radio microphone so that the peoples of the earth can hear him. The states destroy their arsenal, balance their budget deficits and restore honor among the nations (that is to say: the Europeans transfer what is due to the American taxpayer).

There is also an alternative: if the others don't do what the president demands, the US will build an air force that is so huge that it can bomb all other countries to rubble and ashes. Hammond creates a picture of the war of the future, which will depopulate the earth with bombers, poison gas, death rays and unimaginably destructive explosives until there are no more people, but only "the less cruel, less destructive and less stupid ... wild animals".

Hammond's address is a strange mixture of pacifism, a raised index finger and the desire for destruction and ruin. Huston is getting into a furore that could almost hide the fact that the president he is playing leaves it in the balance whether the US will scrap its arsenal or whether it will keep it to monitor that the other nations are themselves to adhere to the contract and not to rearm (or to intervene for other reasons if the "public conscience" demands it). The role of world policeman, which the Americans assumed after 1945, is already becoming apparent.

If you look closely, you will discover a Japanese man who has lost his way among the delegates from Europe. The man is probably a holdover from Tweed's novel, where it is not the poor payment behavior of the Europeans that moves the president to his disarmament initiative, but a particularly senseless and destructive war between Russia and Japan. In retrospect, this gets a spicy note, because the destruction of American warships from the air reminds you of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, which led to the United States' entry into World War II.

Resentment politics

Some of the delegates stand with their mouths open as President Hammond draws up his doom and gloom scenario. In the end, everyone understood and indicated their approval, because the simple solution actually exists in this film. The strongest forces everyone else what he wants from them. This is legitimized by the fact that the president's uncompromising approach ensures world peace and protects the earth from destruction. The end justifies the means. And the American worker has finally got a job again because the foreigners are paying their debts.

It works very well in the film. But in reality? In 2017 things could get even more exciting - not only for armaments, NATO and defense, but also when the new US administration finds out that the support of the UN refugee agency costs the American taxpayer money, with which one can help the abandoned the ailing steel districts could temporarily keep the job by lowering the taxes for companies willing to emigrate and further saving for the refugees who have nothing at all.

Not everything sold with the stickers "Peace" and "Prosperity" also serves them. As scary as in Gabriel Over the White House Hopefully it won't be. With his bomber squadron, the president is suggesting more than just that he would be willing to go to war if necessary to collect the debts (to secure world peace), but then without wanting to, as Hammond honestly assures us. In reality, after Roosevelt took office in March 1933, the war debt controversy continued merrily.

Throughout the 1930s the debate strained relations between the US and major European countries such as France and the United Kingdom. While the others quarreled, Hitler continued to expand his sphere of influence and power. When it comes to money, the rest is often hidden. The dispute provided the isolationists in the USA with an argument they could hardly have worked out better. Whether or not the British, French and Americans would have formed an effective alliance to contain Hitler's aspirations for great power without the debt problem remains speculative.

In any case, it cannot be ruled out that there is a reason for the Second World War. When Hitler was defeated, the quarrel over the debts of 1914/18 flared up again. Cultures have long memories. The memory lives on, even if the contemporary witnesses have long since died. It deforms over the years. At Gabriel Over the White House one can see how much the debt dispute, an extremely complex issue, had condensed into resentment on the part of the Americans as early as 1932.

This resentment, I suppose, is still there subliminally. Trump's election victory showed how well such resentments based on vague memories can be instrumentalized. At Trump's appearances in front of angry citizens and frustrated people, the debt dispute, which is almost a hundred years old, has resurfaced in the form of European states that want NATO protection and make the Americans pay for it. Sometimes a brew forms in the collective memory of cultures for which there is no formula in the chemistry book. You can get ahead with the history book.

Trouble in the Hays office

Will Hays ’foreign trade man was Colonel Fred Herron. His job was to check films for elements that could be an obstacle to obtaining permission to show in other countries. For Colonel Herron, it was the very last thing that the representatives of other countries were portrayed as crooks crouching and making excuses and the debtor countries as "bad boys who have to stand in front of the teacher and receive a lesson". Obviously he couldn't prevent it. It is moderated slightly by the British. The worthy gentleman can say that his country is not paying its debts because the loans he has granted are not being paid back either.

Hays was so concerned about the script that he sent Louis B. Mayer a telegram on February 16 with a warning, "seriously". He urged him to see personally that Hammond acted only with the power of Congress; that nothing in the film could be understood as criticizing real presidents, Hoover or Roosevelt; and that "the spiritual point of view" was emphasized more. In order to emphasize his demand, he also got in touch with Nicholas Schenck, the CEO of Loew’s Incorporated, whose subsidiary was MGM.

Mayer promised Hays and Schenck what they wanted to hear from him, passed it on to Wanger and took no further notice of the matter. Wanger accepted what was asked of him, then followed Paramount, his old employer, as an example. At She Done Him Wrong the Paramount had demonstrated how to outmaneuver the Guardians of the Production Code. Speed ​​was the magic word. Dr. Wingate rubbed his eyes in amazement after reading the script, when the film was already finished. Wanger wanted it too Gabriel Over the White House do the same.

Gregory LaCava got by with a very economical 18 days of shooting. As early as March 1st, Mayer was sitting in Glendale, watching the film Wanger had delivered, and was amazed. For Mayer it was Gabriel Over the White House an attack on his friend Herbert Hoover and on the Republican Party. It is said that he had a terrible fit of anger and ordered Eddie Mannix to make the film disappear. Mannix was the "fixer" at MGM, the man who cleared up anger of the stars with the police and the judiciary, helped with unwanted pregnancies and generally put things in order.

Gabriel Over the White House Getting rid of the world wasn't that easy. Mayer found himself in an embarrassing position because he had promised Hays and Schenck that he would look after himself and had not done it. Wanger had spent $ 180,000 so far. It was very cheap by MGM standards, but it was money. A large chunk of it came from Hearst, which further complicated matters as the film now traded as a Cosmopolitan Production. That had been very important to Hearst. It was Will Hays' turn now.

Hays had every reason to pull his hair out. Ever since he became president of the MPPDA producers' association, he has been preaching to studios that there are two areas where they should steer clear of only causing trouble: sex and politics. Now he had to watch a film in which Jud Hammond and his drinking buddies from the party toasted the presidency with lots of alcohol (during the Prohibition period), had his lover come to the White House for a lunchtime and then received a cleansing with a blow on the head , became a dictator and showed how to solve problems allegedly insurmountable by democracy.

Hays was so angry that he rounded up the board of directors of the MPPDA in New York for a special screening. On March 6th there were several sightings in the presence of Nicholas Schenck and other gentlemen from the management floor of Loew’s Incorporated. Meanwhile, Hearst's dream of premiering the day Roosevelt was sworn in as the 32nd President of the United States was over. That would have been March 4, 1933. Hays had no sympathy for such requests.Hearst later accused Mayer of not giving him enough support, which with some delay led to the break between him and the MGM.

Similarities to living people

As a former Republican party puller and an expert on political bogus, Hays probably found it a personal affront that Hammond turned old pals and party friends into ministers and that professional qualifications were clearly irrelevant. That should not only have reminded him of the nepotistic administration of President Warren G. Harding, in whose cabinet he had been post office minister, in gratitude for service rendered to Harding's scandal-ridden nomination and to the election campaign fed from dubious financial sources.

The Minister found it particularly outrageous. D. that the action was by no means set in an indefinite, but at least distant future, as he had been led to believe. There are no specific dates. But one of the unemployed veterans says the US sent its citizens to war 17 years ago. So we would be in 1934 (on April 6, 1917, the USA declared war on the German Reich). This blocked the way out to explain the whole thing as a fantasy detached from the day's topicality, and commonalities with actually existing people to coincidental and unintended similarities.

The not so accidental similarities can already be found in the novel by Thomas F. Tweed. The president in the novel, Baralong Rinehard, is - as already mentioned - a disguised literary portrait of British Prime Minister David Lloyd George, whom Tweed knew well in his role as his secretary and advisor. Lloyd George had a private secretary, Frances Stevenson, who was also his long-time lover and who, despite the difficult circumstances, evidently had a very independent spirit. The two married in 1943 - two years after the first Mrs. Lloyd George died. Divorce was out of the question.

It seems to have been the case that Miss Stevenson occasionally also granted Thomas Tweed her favor. Her son's father was believed to be Lloyd George, but some historians consider Tweed a serious candidate. Frances Stevenson was the role model for Independence "Pendie" Malloy, Rinehard's private secretary. The narrator thinks Pendie is extremely good. Tweed was too much of a gentleman to turn his own intimate knowledge at face value and to encourage people to buy the book with the promise of intimate revelations. Rather, he used the novel to deny it.

Rumors of an affair between Pendie and Rinehard (Miss Stevenson and Lloyd George), says Hartley "Beek" Beekman, the president's secretary, unfounded. Tweed's own affair with Miss Stevenson is transformed into a new love triangle. The secretary has a platonic love for Pendie, but would never admit it and has no hope of a less platonic relationship (like the one between Tweed and Miss Stevenson) because his beloved exclusively loves and marries the film and television producer Peale Lindsey .

Walter Wanger's business was not that much discretion. He couldn't resist the temptation to make Pendie the president's mistress. Hammond spends his first night in the White House with the self-confident lady, whom he then installs as his private secretary so that things can continue like this. There is a portrait of Warren G. Harding on a bookcase in the President's office, next to a vase.