Jack E. Kemp
For some reason, I recently recalled a nationally televised political satire, a play from the early 1960s (set in the 1950s) called "The Girls in Room 509." After efforts to find either a DVD of the broadcast or Broadway show production, I was able to secured a copy of the script from www.SamuelFrench.com and will shortly show how little things have changed in this quick witted comedy by Howard Teichmann (also co-author of the 1950s movie "The Solid Gold Cadillac").
"The Girls in Room 509" is about a formerly wealthy aunt and her niece who checked into a then-fashionable New York hotel in 1932 just after Franklin Roosevelt won the Presidency and refused to emerge until a Republican was in the Oval Office. Artistically, they are the predecessors of Thurston and Lovey Howell - but on steroids - and eccentric to a raucus fault. When a story is written about their fading glory - and fading fortunes - in a New York newspaper, they draw the attention of a would-be journalist who gains access to their place and helps them discover that they are far from broke because their late father owned the patents for air conditioning and nylon. This news brings the attention of various fortune hunters - including separate visits from the National Chairmen of both the Republican and Democratic Parties. Both chairmen are played by the same actor wearing the same clothes. This all takes place in the buildup to President Eisenhower's second run for office in 1956. And the chairmen find that although these two ladies haven't read a newspaper or listened to the radio since 1932, they have a keen understanding of politics.
Here then is part of the conversation the older of the two women, Aunt Hettie Van der Wyck, has with Mr. Allen, the GOP Chairman:
Aunt Hettie: Mr. Allen, won't you sit down? Now, as for us going to a political convention, I'm very much afraid that is out of the question. My niece and I are quite shy, and I'm sure there are a great many people there. Besides, I'm not at all sure you'd want me there. I might ask questions.
GOP Chairman: What kind of questions?
Aunt Hettie: Where do you stand on taxes?
GOP Chairman: Oh, well. That's fine. Taxes? We're against them.
Aunt Hettie: Splendid.
GOP Chairman: Miss Van der Wyck, the Republican Party has always been against taxes.
Aunt Hettie: Good. And now that we're in Washington, we've eliminated them?
GOP Chairman: Well - not all of them.
Aunt Hettie: But some of them?
GOP Chairman: Uh-yes. I think that's safe to say. We've eliminated some of them.
Aunt Hettie: How gratifying. Which ones?
GOP Chairman: Which ones would you like to hear about?
Aunt Hettie: The Income Tax. Is it gone?
GOP Chairman: What else would you like to hear about?
Aunt Hettie: It's not gone, then?
GOP Chairman: Well- uh - Miss Van der Wyck, these are unusual times.
Aunt Hettie: What about the gasoline tax?
GOP Chairman: And such times call for increased sacrifices.
Aunt Hettie: The inheritance tax?
GOP Chairman: We must re-affirm our beliefs.
Aunt Hettie: Any of the Federal excise taxes?
GOP Chairman: We must pledge anew our loyalties.
Aunt Hettie: At least you've repealed the godd***n Social Security Tax?
GOP Chairman: We must see to it, Miss Van der Wyck, that our over-all superiority and leadership is maintained.
Aunt Hettie: In what? Taxes?
END OF FIRST QUOTE
As the conversation goes from bad to worse, the GOP Chairman accuses Aunt Hettie of "not knowing what's going on." To this she replies:
Aunt Hettie: Oh, I know what's going on, Mr. Allen. What's going on is the same thing as when the Democrats were in. The only things that are different are the names of the politicians. Oh, there's a difference between Republican and Democratic voters, but not between their politicians.Those vultures not only stand for the same principles, they also have the same goals: the first is to get elected and the second is to stay elected.
END OF QUOTES
This was written over 55 years ago - or was it 55 minutes ago?