governments.rnAlice bolstered her men in their anti-FDR efforts; the fortifyingrneffect of her slashing Old Right wit is impossible torncalculate. She never brought Lewis over to Taft—like HiramrnJohnson, he was for Wheeler in 1940—but her charm andrnmagnetism helped cohere the farraginous antiwar movement.rnOnce more her salon, now in a four-story sandstone just offrnDu Pont Circle, was a hospice for Americanists who, like Alice,rnwanted to “keep out this time.” Alice was on the nationalrnAmerica First Committee and a constant presence at AmericarnFirst rallies, sitting on stage beneath a broad-brimmed hat. Shernwas a director of the potent D.C. chapter of America First; herrnmanner gave the dowdy committee a welcome dash of flair.rnApologists—the kind who believe “America First” is code forrnNazi, and scramble to explain away their beloved Mrs. L’s ferventrnisolationism—point to her retrospective crack, “Familyrnfeeling enters into it; anything to annoy Franklin.” But this wasrna calculated exculpation of what had come to be defined as arnhate crime, for Alice, like most self-consciously outrageousrnpersons, had a keen sense of boundaries, and she knew better,rnonce the myths had hardened, than to advertise her objectionsrnto the Holiest Enterprise Ever Undertaken By Man.rnFamily feeling did enter into it, of course: she regarded herselfrnas keeper of her father’s flame, though it is hard to imaginernthe sanguinary Teddy wanting to sit out the EuropeanrnWar of 1939. The lyncean Richard Nixon noted of Alice, “Asrna devoted admirer of her father, she was first, last, and alwaysrna nationalist. I ler father, of course, was America’s first truly internationalistrnPresident.” (From her ebullient father she did inheritrna passion for learning and life. One can easily imaginernTeddv spending a magnificent evening with Edwin Hubble onrnMount Wilson at the eyepiece of the 100-inch reflector, asrnAlice did.)rnWar came, and America was not to come first again. “Well,rnFranklin asked for it. Now he’s got it,” she remarked at lunchrnon December 7, 1941. After the war, she dabbled in Americanistrnactivities (helping to organize a “United States Day” inrn1954 to counter United Nations Day), but mostly she reveledrnin her role as what she termed “a rather loathsome combinationrnof Marie Dressier and Phyllis Diller.”rnShe got older and more cantankerous and, ultimately, harmless.rnJohn F. Kennedy called her “the best company in town.”rnShe voted Democratic for the first time in 1964 because shernthought Goldwater humorless. She enjoyed the student rebellionrnbecause it gave her old nemeses in the Democratic Establishmentrnfits. According to her unsympathetic biographerrnCarol Felsenthal, Alice as dotard extinguished her father’srnflame. When a reporter asked in 1977 about the PanamarnCanal Treaty, she replied, “I don’t care what they do with therncanal. Who cares? It’s there and I don’t give a damn. Nothingrncould bore me more.”rnhi her senescence she recalled, “We were against the Leaguernbecause wc hated Wilson. . . . All that nonsense about myrnkilling the League with a bunch of diehard cronies is ridiculous.”rnThe earlier self she reimagined belonged in the CeorgernS. Kaufman play; it was motivated by spite and jealousy and therndesperate need to be an intrigant in the court. This did no justicernto the hellcat princess who had thrown herself into valiantrnbattles against “the internationalism that we felt menaced ourrnvery existence as an independent nation.”rnAlice was bigger than a hostess; she was no mere Perle Mestarnor Pamela Harriman. hideed, compare her with Uarrimanrnto gauge our free fall. Alice was a Mayflower descendant whornguarded her republican birthright with grit and bile. Harriman,rnDemocratic dowager and Clinton’s Ambassador to France, is anrnalien doxy whose reverence for American sovereignty ranksrnsomewhere below her belief in chastity and household economy.rnAmong the trio of husbands that Madam Ambassador hasrnburied is W. Averell Harriman, which is where we came in.rnRule by the robber baron or his whore—take your pick.rnAlice Roosevelt Longworth did not lead a blameless life. Shernwas, it seems, a horrible mother, by turns domineering andrninattentive, and her shy daughter Paulina was a suicide by agern31, though not before the gid found The Bridge by being activernin both Twenties for Taft and the anarchist Catholic Workerrnmovement. In this sense, at least, Paulina was very much therndaughter of the Republican dame who loved John L. Lewis.rnHowever maculate, Alice had a soul. She laughed, andrnmade others laugh. She brightened the corner where she was,rnand the light she generated was, as Anne Morrow Lindberghrnmight say, American . . . American . . . American. She coneludedrnin Crowded Hours, “Anyway, the show is there for us,rnand we might as well get what entertainment we may out of it.”rnThat is how one lives to be 96 years of age, sunnily dispensingrnwicked apothegms as the empire slides into night. crnWryneckrnby Peter RussellrnI leld in the handrnThis speckled birdrnFeigns deathrnIs waywardrnFree in the woodsrnA snake, it hissesrnMaster of moodsrnOf wounds, of kissesrnTorn on the wheelrnIt turns men’s heartsrnWomen concealrnDeathly artsrnThe Jinx is DeathrnThe speckled birdrnFlies out of handrnIs waywardrnFEBRUARY 1995/29rnrnrn