PROXMIRE by Jay G. Sykes


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A run-of-the-journalistic mill biography of Sen. William Proxmire (D. Wis.), the ""thrifty liberal"" best known for his successful battle against the SST. Sykes, a Milwaukee reporter, tries hard to root Proxmire in the tradition of Midwest Progressivism but the kinship with La Follette seems more hortatory than real. Proxmire gets pats on the back for his ""non-doctrinaire independence"" which is just a complimentary way of saying that his neither-fish-nor-foul, neither liberal-nor-conservative record is hard to peg in terms of any consistent political philosophy whatever. In the early '60's he was ""flying with the fiercest of hawks"" but last year he voted for both the McGovern-Hatfield and Cooper-Church amendments; a foe of the SACB but a strong supporter of the illiberal Washington D.C. no-knock and preventative detention legislation; a stalwart of The Committee of One Million Against Admission of Communist China to the U.N. but also an anti-Pentagon gunner who has slashed military appropriations for NASA, the Air Force C-5A, etc; pure as the driven snow on civil fights legislation but a niggardly naysayer on urban renewal, welfare, Medicare and other expenditures needed to make social justice and equal opportunity something more than slogans. About all you can say for sure is that he's a political animal through and through, having turned the campaign handshake into ""nearly an exact science"" and reaping 71% of the vote in his 1970 electoral victory. One side of the placard reads ""the absolute sovereignty of the individual conscience"" and the other side says ""nothing succeeds like success."" Will the real Senator Proxmire please stand up?

Pub Date: May 1st, 1972
Publisher: McKay