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With a brief final splash, the waters have closed over the head of the 87th Congress, and it passes unmourned. It merits no eulogies, and will receive none.
Its achievements were marginal, when measured against the programs offered for its consideration. So much so that it is tempting to accept the President's recent political invective as a reasonable, objective appraisal of its performance. In his recent barnstorming tour of the East, for example, he attacked Senator Capehart and his kind in these words: "Those self-appointed generals and admirals who want to send someone else's sons to war, and who consistentl voted against the instruments of peace, ought to be kept at home by the voters and replaced by someone who has some understanding of what the 20th century is all about." And it is hard to argue with such claims.
But there is another way in which this politicking is relevant to the failure of Congress; it makes one wonder why we haven't heard more of this sort of talk. The President's very brilliance on the stump gives the lie to claim that he was politically powerless against a recalcitrant Congress.
But the President is evidently alarmed by the success of the cold war of legislative attrition waged by this large group of willful men, and this is all to the good. He seems to be emerging from his delusion that "technique can be substituted for policy," in Hans Morgenthau's phrase. Concern about the substantive tragedy of his legislative failures has replaced simple pique at losing the game.
In the next few years, the results of this change in his outlook may coincide with the first big victories in the struggle for reapportionment of legislators. Together, these two developments may really get this country moving again. The bleak record of the 87th demonstrates that nothing short of such a revolution will.
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