LEGACY TO POWER: Senator Russell Long of Louisiana by Robert Mann

LEGACY TO POWER: Senator Russell Long of Louisiana

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Adroitly told biography of Russell Long, longtime US senator from Louisiana, by his former press secretary. Long's legendary father, Huey (""Kingfish"") Long, was assassinated when the future senator was 16. As a young man, Russell showed the family flair for politics (his uncle Earl also was governor of Louisiana) and was elected at age 30 to the Senate--an incoming class that included Lyndon Johnson, Hubert Humphrey, and Estes Kefauver. Mann tells how senators initially suspicious of Long because of his father's skin-'em-and-feed-'em-to-the-alligators style of doing business were won over by this polite young man who cultivated friendships and coalitions. Long's early Senate years were marked by Quixote-like stands against massive foreign-aid proposals by Truman and Eisenhower: He believed the government should spend for domestic needs. Prescient in many ways (and frustrated by Eisenhower's tightfisted treatment of the poor), he said in 1955, ""Republicans believe that prosperity and most good things trickle down from the top."" By 1965, Long had become chairman of the Finance Committee and also majority whip--the most powerful man in the Senate. Among his proposals were the check-off box for federally financed campaigns, the Employee Stock Ownership Plan, the Earned Income Tax credit, SSI, large increases in Medicaid, and two ideas (from 1972) being touted in the present presidential campaign: ""workfare"" and forcing runaway fathers to pay child support. One reason for Long's effectiveness, Mann says, was his plain-spoken manner. In a battle with Jimmy Carter, who wanted to cut deductions for the ""three-martini"" business lunch, Long told reporters that ""entertainment is to the selling business as fertilizer is to the farmer--it increases yield."" An absorbing account of one of America's great Éminences grises.

Pub Date: Oct. 26th, 1992
ISBN: 0595270190
Page count: 432pp
Publisher: Paragon House