THE PRESIDENT'S LOYAL OPPOSITION
That such a fundamentally sound measure as the administrative reorganization bill should have secured the dangerously small majority of seven votes can only mean that President Roosevelt has suffered a permanent loss of prestige in the congressional arena. This conclusion is the one to which the increasing independence of Congress has been leading for some time, and represents a return to that balance of power between the legislature and the executive which is the normal and healthy condition of American government; but it is unfortunate that this constructive trend should have been demonstrated by the tactics of an irresponsible opposition.
Much that is irrational and unsound has been used in the fight against the Byrnes bill. The cry of "dictator" is ridiculous; as a matter of fact, the proposed extension of the Civil Service will lessen the President's power by taking the weapon of patronage from him. The division of the pre-audit and the post-audit functions which caused so much opposition will place the control of expenditure in the hands of Congress where it rightfully belongs--and where it theoretically resides today. To call the bill "a dagger in the heart of democracy" ignores the fact that governmental inefficiency is a far more serious threat to representative institutions than is the possible misuse of power in the President's hands.
Paradoxically enough, however, this opposition has rendered the nation a service. By demonstrating the President's loss of prestige, it has made more certain that in the future the function of the chief executive will be separate from that of Congress. Moreover, by putting the President in a bad light, it has become expedient for him to administer the bill well, if only to redeem himself in the eyes of the nation; and for it to be expedient that the administrative agencies be reorganized well is the best assurance the nation could have that this will be done.