"Clear Everything with Sidney": Hillman's Conservative Critics Say It with Limericks
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“Clear Everything with Sidney”: Hillman’s Conservative Critics Say It with Limericks

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

Around Washington

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.