Labor leader Sidney Hillman emerged as a powerful national figure during the Great Depression, in part because of his role as a leader of the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO), but even more because of his ties to President Franklin Roosevelt and other New Dealers. In 1944 Republican presidential candidate Thomas E. Dewey charged that the CIO and Hillman’s Political Action Committee (PAC) dominated Roosevelt. Part of the evidence for this (unfounded) charge was the rumor—given some credibility by its publication in the New York Times—that Roosevelt had told party leaders to “Clear it with Sidney” before selecting a vice-presidential candidate in 1944. Particularly rabid on the subject were the newspapers owned by the anti-New Dealer William Randolph Hearst. Hearst’s New York Journal-American even sponsored a “Sidney Limerick Contest.” These winning entries gave a flavor of the sharp antagonism and prejudices that the nation’s most politically influential labor leader aroused.
Limerick #1 by Fred R. Hines
He bossed the Convention with skill
And bent the New Deal to his will;
For Sidney knows how,
He learned in Moscow
And remembers the ‘Red’ schoolhouse still.
Limerick # 2 by Gale Anthony
There’s one thing we cannot quite clear
With Sid and his buddies, we fear:
If Moscow’s so stunning,
Why don’t they keep running
Until they are there and not here?
Limerick # 3 finished by Russel E. King
New Dealers clear everything with Sidney,
For he’s a guy of considerable kidney.
He’s boss No. 1
If we vote a 4th term—it’s heil Sidney.
Limerick # 4 finished by Jack Oxhorn
An unwilling horse can’t be led,
Nor even a donkey, 'tis said.
But when Sidney approves,
The New Deal Donkey moves
Cause it likes the baloney its fed.
Limerick # 5 Seth Sentry
Political pots have a lid,
Beneath which the cooking is hid.
But it’s easy to tell
From the Bolsehvik smell
Which stew was concocted by Sid.
Limerick # 6 finished by Mrs. M. J. Richmond
Clear it with Sidney you men,
He’ll tell you just how and just when
I pray nights to Allah
To let me and Fala
Remain in the White House. Amen!
Limerick # 7 finished by L. Wifield Smith
Clear everything with Sidney the Czar,
Yes, your job, and your family, your car.
When he ruins the nation,
Frank’ll take a vacation—
And Browder will eat caviar.
Source: New York Journal-American, October 1944.