"There's where our imperfect Walter was incorruptible--where it mattered. Walter is too loud, Walter talks too fast, Walter says too much, and yet, by comparison, Walter's vulgarity is something great, and Lindbergh's decorum is hideous."
Fiorello H. La Guardia on the recently assassinated Walter Winchell, in Philip Roth, The plot against America (New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004), 304-305. "'We can dispense with the cant at the start. . . . Everybody knows that Walter was not a lovely human being. Walter was not the strong, silent type who hides everything but the muckraker who hates everything hidden. As anybody who ever turned up in his column can tell you, Walter was not always as accurate as he might have been. He was not shy, he was not modest, he was not decorous, discreet, kindly, et cetera. My friends, if I were to list for you everything lovely that W.W. was not, we'd be here till next Yom Kippur. I'm afraid that the late Walter Winchell was just one more doozy of a specimen of the imperfect man. In declaring himself a candidate for the presidency of the United States were his motives pure as Ivory soap? Walter Winchell's motives? Was his preposterous candidacy uncontaminated by a raving ego? My friends, only a Charles A. Lindbergh has motives pure as Ivory soap when he runs for the American presidency. Only a Charles A. Lindbergh is decorous, discreet, et cetera--oh, and accurate, too, wholly accurate always when every few months he summons up the gregariousness to address his ten favorite platitudes to the nation. Only a Charles A. Lindbergh is a selfless ruler and a strong, silent saint. Walter, on the other hand, was Mr. Gossip Columnist. Walter, on the other hand, was Mr. Broadway: liked the ponies, liked the late hours, liked Sherman Billingsley--somebody once told me that he even liked the girls. And the repeal of that "noble experiment," as Mr. Herbert Hoover called it, the repeal of the hypocritical, expensive, stupid, unenforceable Eighteenth Amendment, was no more ignoble to Walter Winchell than it was to the rest of us here in New York. In short, Walter lacked every gleaming virtue demonstrated daily by the incorruptible test pilot ensconced in the White House. [par.] Oh yes, several more differences that are perhaps worth noting between fallible Walter and infallible Lindy. Our president is a fascist sympathizer, more than likely an outright fascist--and Walter Winchell was the enemy of the fascist. Our president is no lover of Jews and more than likely a dyed-in-the-wool anti-Semite while Walter Winchell was a Jew and the unwavering, vociferous enemy of the anti-Semite. Our president is an admirer of Adolf Hitler and more than likely a Nazi himself--and Walter Winchell was Hitler's first American enemy and his worst American enemy. There's where our imperfect Walter was incorruptible--where it mattered. Walter is too loud, Walter talks too fast, Walter says too much, and yet, by comparison, Walter's vulgarity is something great, and Lindbergh's decorum is hideous. . . . For speaking his mind in the state of Kentucky, W.W. was assassinated by the Nazis of America, who, thanks to the silence of our strong, silent, selfless president, today run rampant throughout this great land. It can't happen here? My friends, it is happening here--and where is Lindbergh? Where is Lindbergh?'"