(Sen. Everett Dirksen - master juggler, sometimes referred to as "The Wizard of Ooze")
With the current state of "bi-partisanship" having something of a hollow ring to it, I thought I would drag out an episode of Meet The Press from January 24, 1965 to hear how adults used to do it. As a result of the sweep by the Democrats in the 1964 election, the Republicans were the minority party. Everett Dirksen became Senate minority leader - he embodied The Loyal Opposition while maintaining some form of unity within a fractured Republican party.
Lawrence Spivak: “Senator Dirksen, there’s been a good deal debate over a long period of time over what the role of the minority party in Congress should be. How do you see the role of the Republican Party in Congress today?”
Sen. Dirksen: “Well, the role of the Republican party or any minority party for that matter, would be one of constructive opposition, not blind opposition. And by constructive opposition, I mean you accept the things that are good for the country. You try to amend or modify proposals that, in your judgment and judgment of the party, are not good. And if they contain more of evil, shall I say, than of good, then you reject them. But always you try to follow a constructive line”.
Dirksen was masterful at the art of negotiation, as was evidenced by his popularity on both sides of the aisle as well as his gift for abundant oratory. He was a fervent supporter of the Civil Rights Act and subsequent Civil Rights legislation. He was also a vocal supporter of the Vietnam War which put him in a precarious place as our involvement increased with no end in sight.
I suspect Dirksen would be seriously dismayed by the current state of his party - as I think many Republicans of the past would.
Voices of reason appear to be in short supply of late.
Weekend Talkshows Past with an episode of American Forum Of The Air, first broadcast in March 1952. The subject was "Issues Of 1952" featuring Senators Everett Dirksen (Republican) and Robert Kerr (Democrat), discussing what may be the deciding factors in the 1952 Presidential election. Read more...
Weekend Talkshows Past - Issues & Answers from September 1964, featuring vice-Presidential hopeful Senator Hubert Humphrey interviewed regarding the upcoming election, Barry Goldwater, the recent coups in Vietnam, Foreign and Domestic policy. Read more...