An insider's peak into the operations of the upper house of Congress, with a view to extracting lessons for the current...

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THE US SENATE: Paralysis or a Search for Consensus?

An insider's peak into the operations of the upper house of Congress, with a view to extracting lessons for the current Senate. Reedy (The Twilight of the Presidency) was director of the Senate Majority Policy Committee during Lyndon Johnson's halcyon days as Majority Leader in the 1950's. It is those years that Reedy examines, stating that it was one of the few periods of time when the Senate really worked. The public image of the Senate, Reedy states, is steeped in myth, fueled by journalists who insist on concentrating upon ""events"" and ""doing."" This is just what the Senate is not about, Reedy insists. This is why, he implies, great senators such as Calhoun, Webster, or Clay never reached the White House--they were masterful legislators but didn't ""do"" anything. Conversely, in our lifetime, senators who did--Nixon, Kennedy, and Johnson--rode the wave of popular inquiries: respectively, Hiss, labor racketeering, and outer space. Reedy demonstrates by the goings on of such towering figures as Richard Russell, Estes Kefauver, Johnson, and Robert Taft how a properly functioning Senate is meant to get things done. The 1950's were a time when there was genuine conflict between the left and the right, allowing the center to impose itself as a solution. Eisenhower was a master, Reedy says, at sending legislation to Congress with built-in elbowroom. Reagan, in contrast, dares Senators to be either for or against him. As memoir, this makes for good reading, but one gets the feeling that Reedy can't quite make up his mind if he is engaging in personal nostalgia or trying to make a point. There is more of the former than the latter. Even so, it's worthy of a second look.

Pub Date: Oct. 24, 1986

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1986