Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee’s The Gang’s All Here (1959) is a play loosely based on the presidency of Warren G. Harding, remembered for the Teapot Dome scandal involving several of his friends and cabinet members.
He [Sam Cavendish] can afford morality. He’s rich enough. I’m not. Neither are you. The “land of plenty” for everybody except a politician, who sticks his head through the hole in the canvas and lets the
goddamned free press sling mud balls at him. He can’t run his business like a business, because it’s never his business. It belongs to the blessed American public that doesn’t give a hoot in hell until some poor bastard
gets his pinky caught in the cash register! Name me the job that demands more and pays less than serving the American taxpayer. The Customers’ Man can screw ‘em blind on the Big Board. That’s O.K. The Oil Boys
can simmer the fat out of the ground, the Real Estate Sharks can bank a six-month million—everybody gets rich except the poor ass of a “Public Servant.” (Straight at Hastings) And you’ve got the gall to scream because a few of your friends are smart enough to do exactly what everybody else in the country is doing.
In the context of Rafferty’s argument, the actual president Harding’s campaign slogan—“Return to Normalcy”—seems bizarrely appropriate.
If the man we fondly X’d in a voting booth turns out to be a struggling incompetent, whose fault is it? The President’s? ….It’s too easy to blame the gang around him, because opportunists are always waiting to fill any governmental vacuum. Perhaps the real trouble lies in our own reluctance to think about history except on that November Tuesday.