The Enigmatic Joe Lieberman




Joe Lieberman left politics about ten years ago, and he was a figure of controversy especially among Democrats, as he went from Democratic standard-bearer in 2000 as vice presidential candidate to foreign policy ally for Republicans by 2004. But there’s a bit more about him than that, and truth be told, he is much like his late friend John McCain of Arizona, in that he was regarded as a “maverick” in his own party and the extent of his dissents were played up by both him and those within his party who took umbrage to these dissents.

Political Beginnings


In 1970, Lieberman, an attorney by profession, was first elected to the Connecticut Senate as a “reform Democrat”, serving for ten years. This was a springboard for higher office, and in 1980 he ran for Congress for the 3rd district. However, this was a good year for Republicans and he was defeated by Republican Lawrence DeNardis. However, this proved but a temporary setback. In 1982, Lieberman was elected attorney general, and in this position, he stressed the environment and fought for consumer protection laws.


The 1988 Election

If there was a figure in the Republican Party during the Reagan years who was a bête noire for them, it was Senator Lowell Weicker of Connecticut. Weicker had never been a conservative and had become increasingly liberal and combative over the years. He frequently opposed President Reagan’s positions on legislation, and by the end of his presidency he was more liberal than ever. In 1987, his ADA score was an 85% and in 1988 it was a 90%. This resulted in National Review endorsing Lieberman, finding him better than Weicker. William F. Buckley Jr., the publisher of the conservative magazine, was a personal friend of Lieberman’s and had first met him when the latter was a student at Yale. At the start of the campaign, Weicker had been polling ahead of Lieberman. This crossover conservative vote brought Lieberman over the top, with him prevailing by 0.7% and the state hasn’t had a Republican senator since. He proved a quick improvement from a conservative standpoint, albeit minor, scoring a 75% in 1989 and an 83% in 1990. In 1994, Lieberman won reelection with the highest margin in the state’s history for a Senate election with 67% of the vote and winning all counties.

Joe Lieberman vs. Violent Video Games

Many politicians in the 1990s, Democrat and Republican, were expressing concern over violent video games, and it got a bit to the point of moral panic. In 1993, he with Senators Herb Kohl (D-Wis.) and Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) conducted hearings on the matter of video game violence with the games Night Trap and Mortal Kombat figuring most prominently as examples of alarming content. Lieberman believed then and believes now that violent video games play a role in violent acts. The result of this hearing and Lieberman’s introduction of a law providing for a government panel to rate video games, was the establishment of the Interactive Digital Software Association to lobby for the industry. They also formed the Entertainment Software Ratings Board for content ratings. This was a far less dramatic response than the film industry forming the Hays Code in the 1930s to prevent federal regulation and the comic book industry forming the Comics Code in response to the 1950s moral panic on the subject.

The Postal Backfire

Although Lieberman’s efforts were successful in getting the video game industry to adopt a ratings system, his push could backfire. In 1997, the developer Running With Scissors released a game called Postal, in which you play a mass shooter. Although you don’t get rewarded for or are required to kill unarmed people, they inevitably get in the crossfire. Lieberman denounced the game on the floor of the Senate as one of the three worst things in American society, with the two others being Marilyn Manson and Calvin Klein underwear ads (Powell). Disclosure about myself here, I am a gamer who has played many violent games and I have played through and own a copy of Postal. I do not believe that a game has caused anyone to commit an act of horrible violence. People like that have the capacity within them and I believe there is a myriad of things that could trigger them.

Further Effort at Regulation

In 2005, Lieberman sponsored with Senator Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) The Family Entertainment Protection Act, which had it been enacted would have fined retailers for selling games to minors contrary to the ESRB rating system. A law similar to this proposal was passed in several states including California. In 2011, these were struck down 7-2 on First Amendment grounds by the Supreme Court in Brown v. Entertainment Merchants Association (2011), which conclusively ruled that video games were a form of art.

Lieberman and Clinton

Senator Lieberman was largely supportive of President Clinton and his policies, but he was also the first Democrat to criticize him over the Lewinsky Affair. Seconded by Democrats Bob Kerrey of Nebraska and Dan Moynihan of New York, Lieberman condemned Clinton’s actions as “immoral”, “disgraceful”, and “deserving of public rebuke and accountability” (Balz). Despite his criticisms, Lieberman ultimately voted against impeachment, holding that a censure would have sufficed. His criticism of Clinton’s conduct combined with his opposition to impeachment lent credibility to opposing the impeachment, thus his speech ironically helped save Clinton’s presidency. He also was a supporter of higher defense spending than many other Democrats and supported school vouchers, which went directly against the Democratic support base of teacher unions.

The 2000 Election

The pick of Joe Lieberman, the first Democratic senator to criticize President Clinton over the Lewinsky affair, seems like another way for Al Gore to distance himself from the scandal. Indeed, this was a motivation along with Lieberman being a potential first: the first Jewish vice president. The reaction from liberals to this pick was neither hostile nor enthusiastic. As Amy Isaacs of Americans for Democratic Action said on the choice of him, “I wouldn’t say dancing in the streets, but we’re not gnashing our teeth either” (Chen & Barabak). Gore did this despite Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) requesting him not to pick a nominee from a state with a Republican governor. Connecticut’s Governor at the time was Republican John Rowland. American Jews were jubilant at this first, but their first president or vice president as of 2022 still has to wait. The presidential election of 2000 was one of the most contentious in the nation’s history and ultimately Gore-Lieberman would lose to Bush-Cheney by an electoral college vote and a controversial vote count in Florida.

A Critical Break

Senator Lieberman attracted a lot of criticism for his break from the Democratic position on the Iraq War come 2004, and this has led his reputation as a maverick to be greater among Democrats and Republicans alike than it actually was. On many fundamental political issues, Lieberman remained a liberal Democrat. He was still pro-choice, pro-labor, and against the Bush tax cuts. Indeed, his average ADA score, if one does not count absences against, is an 87%. However, this issue dampened any enthusiasm that might have been had for his run for the Democratic nomination for president and harmed his prospects for renomination. In 2006, despite numerous Democrats including former President Clinton campaigning for him, he was defeated for renomination by future Governor Ned Lamont. However, Lieberman figured that he had enough support in the state to run for reelection as an Independent Democrat. He did so, and won, as many Republicans abandoned their own nominee to vote for him. Indeed, 33% of Democrats, 54% of Independents, and 70% of Republicans voted for him (CNN). Lieberman achieved an uncommon feat among senators, the ability to come back even when their own party disavows them, as did both Virginia’s Harry F. Byrd Jr. in 1970 and Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski in 2010.

2008 Election

One of Lieberman’s good friends in the Senate was John McCain of Arizona, and after he was nominated, he actually endorsed him for the presidency given their agreements on foreign policy. This cemented in the minds of Democrats the idea that Lieberman had gone full Republican, even though in truth most of Lieberman’s dissents with Democrat surrounded the Iraq War. McCain had even asked him to run as his vice president, but he declined. The McCain-Lieberman ticket would have been an interesting one, an effort at a “unity” ticket. My guess though is that it still wouldn’t have won. Lieberman’s endorsement did have a number of Democrats furious with him, but newly elected President Obama felt like he needed all the support he could get for his legislation, so he didn’t push retaliation. Indeed, Lieberman would vote for most of President Obama’s legislation and he in fact voted for all of his positions on votes Americans for Democratic Action counted in their 2009 scores.

Lieberman on Obama’s Policies

Although Joe Lieberman voted for Obamacare as did all Democratic senators, he was among the Democratic senators who opposed the “public option” in the original legislation, and since passage of this measure was already going to be difficult given staunch Republican opposition, so the provision was removed. The real negotiations that occurred on the bill were not Democrats with Republicans, but rather Democrats with other Democrats. Lieberman also sponsored the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal and voted for “cash for clunkers”, the stimulus plan, and SCHIP.

Retirement

Senator Lieberman opted not to run for reelection in 2012. His favorability among Democrats was probably not great given memories of his stances on the Iraq War and his endorsement of McCain in 2008. Although looking back on matters for Democrats, Lieberman’s endorsement of McCain probably doesn’t seem that bad anymore. The American Conservative Union gave him a lifetime score of 15% but DW-Nominate saw him as having a -0.205, making him a moderate liberal by that standard. In the year of his retirement, he opted not to endorse either the Democratic or Republican candidate, but in 2016 and 2020 he endorsed the Democratic candidate. In 2018, Lieberman spoke at Senator McCain’s funeral, and it was there that he revealed that he had asked him to be his VP.

References

America Votes 2006. CNN.

Retrieved from

http://www.cnn.com/ELECTION/2006/pages/results/states/CT/S/01/epolls.0.html

Balz, D. (1998, September 4). Leading Senate Democrat Blasts Clinton’s Behavior. The Washington Post.

Retrieved from

https://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/politics/special/clinton/stories/dems090498.htm

Chen, E. & Barabak, M.Z. (2000, August 8). Gore Chooses Sen. Lieberman as Running Mate. Los Angeles Times.

Retrieved from

https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-2000-aug-08-mn-635-story.html

Powell, J. (2011, June 23). Postal And The Pinnacle of Gaming Controversy. We Got This Covered.

Retrieved from

https://wegotthiscovered.com/gaming/playing-school-postal-pinnacle-gaming-controversy/

Segarra, L.M. & Newcomb, A. (2019, August 10). Joe Lieberman Famously Blamed Video Games for Violence. Now Guns and the Internet Worry Him Even More. Fortune.

Retrieved from

https://fortune.com/2019/08/10/trump-video-game-violence-joe-lieberman/

Senator Slade

In two weeks, there is an outside possibility that Republican Tiffany Smiley defeats Democrat Patty Murray for reelection in my state of Washington in the best opportunity they have had for a Senate seat since 2010. If this happens, it would be the first time the state has elected a Republican senator since 1994. The last one, Thomas Slade Gorton III (1928-2020), lost reelection in 2000. This brings me to my topic for today, what sort of Republican was Washington willing to elect to the Senate three times in living memory?


Gorton first began to participate in politics as a young attorney by joining the Washington Young Republicans in 1956. He got elected to the state legislature in 1958 and served for ten years. In this capacity, he gained a solid reputation as a legislator of integrity. This propelled him to higher office.

Attorney General of Washington


In 1968, Gorton was elected Washington’s attorney general, and he became quite popular. He pursued a moderately environmental course and pushed for warning labels on cigarette packages. In 1977, Gorton was successful in getting the Mariners to join the American League as an expansion team. The state of Washington hadn’t had an MLB team since the Pilots left in 1970.


Taking Down a Giant

In 1980, Gorton decided the time was right to challenge Senator Warren Magnuson for reelection. Magnuson had first been elected to Congress in 1936 and had served as a senator since 1944 and had numerous accomplishments under his belt, including preventing oil supertankers from traveling in Puget Sound and diverting a disproportionate share of federal money to the state. He had been reelected in 1974 by 24 points. However, 1980 was different. Magnuson wasn’t aging well, and people noticed. He was at this point heavy-set and was suffering from diabetes. President Jimmy Carter also wasn’t popular in Washington…he had lost the state to Gerald Ford in 1976. Reagan’s landslide election helping matters, the popular Gorton defeated Magnuson by almost eight points.

Gorton in First Term

Slade Gorton was, although a supporter on the meat and potatoes issues of Reagan Republicans such as lower taxes and less government regulation, he was also independent in numerous ways. He was a social moderate who opposed school busing but also opposed a school prayer amendment and the Hatch-Eagleton Human Life Amendment. However, later in his career, he would take a more pro-life stand, voting against funding abortions, voting to ban “partial-birth abortions”, and opposing a resolution stating the sense of the Senate that Roe v. Wade (1973) was properly decided. However, he did make an exception for permitting abortions on military bases. Although in 1982 he opposed a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution he would support later versions. Gorton also supported retaining a Washington D.C. law prohibiting insurance companies from discriminating against AIDS sufferers. Gorton also broke with Reagan by voting for South Africa sanctions and granted the Reagan Administration his support for conservative judge Daniel Manion in exchange for a court nomination of a Seattle liberal. During his time in politics, Slade’s names included “Slade the Blade”, “Slippery Slade”, “The new General Custer”, and “The Darth Vader of Northwest Politics” (Secretary of State).

Temporary Setback and Comeback

Gorton did have some PR issues as he was often perceived as cold and not personable. As political science professor Vernon Johnson said of him, “He’s always had high negatives because of his personal style. He’s viewed as being arrogant” (Steubner). In 1986, the Republicans were facing a tough midterm, and Gorton had attracted a strong opponent in former Secretary of Transportation Brock Adams. Both men were regarded as highly qualified for office and both ran nasty campaigns against each other, but the Democratic energy of the midterms carried the day for Adams, with him prevailing by two points. Initially, Slade decided that this was it and his political career was ended there. However, the call of politics was too tempting for him, and he ran for the Senate again in 1988 to succeed the retiring Daniel J. Evans. His opponent was Seattle’s Congressman Mike Lowry, and as part of his campaign did something risky and interesting: renounced two of his previous stances. He called his initial support for the Contras a mistake as well as his opposition to increasing Social Security benefits (The New York Times). This approach actually worked and again was elected to the Senate with 51% of the vote. This was particularly impressive given that the state that year narrowly voted in the presidential election for Democrat Mike Dukakis.

Senator Microsoft and Saving the Mariners

Gorton was a strong advocate for the industries of Washington, including logging, mining, Boeing, and tech. His advocacy for Microsoft was such that he became known as “Senator Microsoft”. When the company was facing antitrust litigation in the late 1990s he denounced it. He also led the effort to keep the Mariners in Seattle by organizing a local group to buy the franchise and since 1999 their home has been at the T-Mobile Park.


Relations with Indian Tribes

Slade Gorton was considered by many Indians to be one of their staunchest foes as he had butted heads with them on the concept of tribal sovereignty. This conflict started in the 1970s when as attorney general he had fought the extent of their fishing rights. He was also a strong opponent of tribal immunity, and he believed that activities on tribal land should be subjected to not just tribal court but state and federal courts as well. Many Indians thought of him as S’Klallam chairman W. Ron Allen did, “He just wants to keep tribal governments weak. His efforts to redistribute the wealth [through a proposed tax] was really trying to keep all of the tribes equally poor” (Steubner). Naturally, Senator Slade did not agree with this assessment. His spokeswoman, Cynthia Bergman, said on his perspective, “Gorton’s fundamental philosophy on all tribal issues comes down to this: Indian tribes have the right to govern their own affairs, they just don’t have the right to govern the affairs of non-Indians” (Steubner). As a senator, Gorton did provide funding for Indian schools and for other matters relating to them.


Gorton on the Environment

Slade Gorton had a mixed record on environmental issues, with him being more favorable to such causes in his first term than in his last two terms. During his last term, Gorton sponsored a bill to roll back the Endangered Species Act that had been drafted by lobbyists. By the 1990s, the Sierra Club was interested in defeating him.

The End

Probably his most conservative term was his third, in which he was often in opposition to the Clinton Administration. He made exceptions in his conservatism for backing some union-supported measures, such as retaining Davis-Bacon wages. On the Clinton impeachment, Gorton voted for the obstruction of justice charge but against the perjury charge. In 2000, he was opposed by former Representative Maria Cantwell, who received a lot of money and support from Indian tribes. As W. Ron Allen, the chairman of the Jamestown S’Klallam tribe said, “We don’t have anywhere near the power of industry or labor or the environmentalists, but the fact is, we’re starting to play the game. We’ve got money and we’ve got votes, and we’re going to deliver” (Steubner). The election in Washington was the closest in the state’s history, the closeness being similar to the presidential election. There was a recount, but Cantwell ultimately prevailed by 2,229 votes. Gorton had ultimately lost due to a united front of opposition from tribes. He had overall been a moderate conservative, getting a 68% American Conservative Union life score and a DW-Nominate score of 0.271.


The 9/11 Commission and Last Years

Gorton’s public service hadn’t concluded with his defeat, after the September 11th attacks
he was one of the people selected to serve on the 9/11 Commission. His approach, and that of the other commissioners, was described by him, “We decided implicitly from the very beginning that if we couldn’t reach a unanimous decision on the past, we were going to be a failure. And the way to reach a unanimous decision was not to express opinions. So we wrote a totally factual history” (O’Brien). This approach, although it produced a result acceptable to the American people, the commissioners were critical of members of the Bush Administration on their cooperation. Although President Bush himself was candid, others issued contradictory statements to the extent that they considered investigating some of these people for obstruction of justice. Gorton in particular blamed Attorney General Alberto Gonzales for issues the 9/11 Commission had with the Bush Administration. The Committee ultimately concluded that both the Clinton and Bush Administrations had been poorly served by the FBI and CIA, which had failed to spot the incoming terrorist threat.

During his final years, Gorton opposed the rise of Donald Trump and in 2019 supported efforts to impeach him for his conduct with Ukraine but remained a Republican until his dying day (Santos). He supported working within the party rather than outside for change, as he still retained some conservative views.

References


Mariners Statement on the Passing of Slade Gorton. Mariners PR.


Retrieved from


https://marinersblog.mlblogs.com/mariners-statement-on-the-passing-of-slade-gorton-2808a5f76f16


McFadden, R.D. (2020, August 19). Slade Gorton, Who Was Voted Out of the Senate and Then Back In, Dies at 92. The New York Times.


Retrieved from


O’Brien, S.V. (2021, September 13). Slade Gorton & The 9/11 Commission: A Unity of Purpose. Washington State Wire.

Retrieved from

https://washingtonstatewire.com/op-ed-slade-gorton-the-9-11-commission-a-unity-of-purpose/

Oldham, K. (2003, October 14). Magnuson, Warren. HistoryLink.

Retrieved from

https://www.historylink.org/file/5569


Slade Gorton: A Half Century in Politics. Washington Secretary of State.


Retrieved from


https://www.sos.wa.gov/legacy/stories/slade-gorton/


Santos, M. (2020, August 25). Reflecting on Slade Gorton and his era of conservative politics. Crosscut.

Retrieved from


https://crosscut.com/inside-crosscut/2020/08/reflecting-slade-gorton-and-his-era-conservative-politics

Steubner, S. (2000, October 23). Stalking Slade. High Country News.

Retrieved from

https://www.hcn.org/issues/189/10029

The Hammer from Sugar Land

Although Texas has long been known as a conservative state, the rise of Republicans took some time to get off the ground. Although John Tower was elected to the Senate in 1961 in what at the time was considered a major fluke, this fluke translated into four terms. However, the Congressional delegation didn’t match the state of Texas in the Senate, with Democrats dominating. From 1901 to 1963, Texas only had elected three Republicans to the House: Harry Wurzbach of San Antonio, Ben Guill of the state’s panhandle, and Bruce Alger of Dallas. The year, however, in which Republicans truly started to ascend in Texas politics was 1978. It was in that year that Texas elected its first Republican governor since Reconstruction in Bill Clements, John Tower won a close reelection in a Senate race in which the Democratic Party was not considered handicapped by party infighting (as in 1961 with William Blakley and 1966 with Carr Waggonner) or having a deeply unpopular presidential nominee, and Tom DeLay was elected to the Texas State House.

The Beginning


DeLay was known as being a go-along, get-along sort as the nature of the Texas Legislature at the time was more laid back and agreeable. He was also known as a party animal in his early days, being known as “Hot Tub Tom” for his alcoholism and his admitted adultery. However, in 1985 he cleaned up his act by ceasing adultery, quitting hard liquor, and became “born again”. He was elected to Congress in 1984 representing a district based in Sugar Land as part of the “Texas six-pack”, a group of Congressional Republican freshmen that included future Majority Leader Dick Armey, Joe Barton, Beau Boulter, Mac Sweeney, and Larry Combest. All were staunch conservative supporters of President Reagan and his agenda. DeLay reserved special opposition to EPA regulations, as such regulations had caused Mirex, a chemical used in his pest extermination business, to be banned. He condemned staunch environmentalists as “BANANA environmentalists”, standing for “Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anything”. He was also noted for his staunch opposition to campaign finance laws. During the late 1980s, he keenly observed Democratic Majority Whip Tony Coelho of California, who he admired as a model for fundraising. In a portend of DeLay’s future, Coelho would resign in 1989 after reports came out that he received a loan from a savings and loan executive to buy junk bonds (Oreskes).

The Republican Revolution

DeLay was among the most conservative legislators in the 1980s and 1990s, and the ascendency of the House leadership triumvirate of Gingrich, Armey, and DeLay in 1995 with the victory of the Republicans in the 1994 midterms solidified further the House GOP as not just conservative, but conservative AND combative. The predecessor to Gingrich as the leader of the House Republicans, Bob Michel of Illinois, was while conservative, much more reserved in rhetoric and more amenable to compromise with the Democrats. He had throughout his entire career served in the minority. DeLay described his role thusly, as “the ditch digger who makes it all happen” as opposed to Gingrich the “visionary” and Dick Armey the “policy wonk” (Dreyfuss). Becoming known as “The Hammer”, he proved immensely effective as whip. DeLay successfully got to passage 300 out of 303 bills in the 104th Congress (Dubose & Reid, 98). He would also build up relationships with members of the House and help them and thus build up a base of support. As Helen Thorpe (1999) wrote in Texas Monthly, “Essentially, he runs the whip’s office like a service organization. Whatever the members need, he gets. “If you need a golf game, we help you get on a course,” explained [Michael] Scanlon. “If you need reservations somewhere, we find them. If you have a problem with a vote, we fix it. If you need a fundraiser, we do it for you.”” He would use both favors and personal relationships as a base of power. DeLay described his tactics for winning votes thusly, “I tell them how I feel. I’m honest with them. I never ask a member to vote against his conscience or his district. Of course I also have to know him and his district well enough to know when somebody is trying to jerk me around” (Thorpe). The leadership triumvirate of Gingrich-Armey-DeLay, however, was not necessarily a happy one as DeLay viewed Gingrich and Armey as insufficiently committed to Christian values in addition to dissatisfaction from some political miscalculations from the former. Speaker Gingrich by the 1996 midterms had gotten representatives including members of the GOP leadership questioning his Speakership and there was a sense that he had harmed his public image and that of the Republican Congress.

An Attempted “Coup”

In July 1997, DeLay participated with Republican Leadership Chairman Bill Paxon (R-N.Y.) and future Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) in an effort to oust Gingrich by presenting a united front for him to resign or be voted out as speaker, but Majority Leader Dick Armey was not happy with the plan of making Paxon Speaker and thus had his chief of staff inform Gingrich about the attempted coup. This resulted in the resignation of Paxon from the Republican leadership. Gingrich would resign from Congress after the Democrats gained seats in the 1998 midterm elections.

Partisanship

In October 1998, DeLay, as part of his efforts to consolidate Republican Party power in Congress, lambasts the Electronics Industries Alliance for hiring former Democratic Representative Dave McCurdy of Oklahoma as its president. For lobbying firms to successfully operate in Washington, DeLay holds, they need to have Republican representation in their firms. This approach contributes to the increasing partisanship of Washington.

Propping Up a Figurehead


In 1999, DeLay engineered making his deputy, Dennis Hastert of Illinois to be speaker after the original choice, Bob Livingston of Louisiana, was found to himself have a sex scandal. Hastert had better relations with both sides of the aisle than DeLay and he figured that if he were speaker, it would be too heated an affair. The grave moral crimes of Hastert were of course not known at the time.


Relations with Bush

Tom DeLay and George W. Bush didn’t exactly get along, with the former resenting the latter for saying while campaigning in 1999 that Congress was attempting to balance the budget on the backs of the poor and in 2003 when Bush called for Congress to pass a tax benefit to help low-income families with children, he responded, “Last time I checked, he didn’t have a vote” (NBC News). However, DeLay did push some measures that the Bush Administration championed, including Medicare Part D. He was essentially an ally without being a friend.

The Great Texas Redistricting of 2003 and Admonishment by the Ethics Committee

Tom DeLay was for Republicans in Texas what Phil Burton was for Democrats in California in his influence on securing party dominance. The 2002 midterms produced two things: a Republican controlled Texas House and a Texas House delegation to Congress that was 17-15 Democrat despite the state’s vote going Republican for members of Congress 53.3% to 43.8%. This redistricting largely kept the districts that had been put in place in the 1991 redistricting, when Democrats had majorities in the state legislature as well as Governor Ann Richards. In 2003, DeLay ascended to the post of Majority Leader with the retirement of Dick Armey, and he masterminded another redistricting, and his efforts were not met without a fight. 52 Democrats fled the state to deny the legislature a quorum to vote on this proposal, requiring a special session of the legislature to be called. The Federal Highway Patrol was put on watch for the fleeing legislators, so they traveled to Oklahoma by plane. DeLay’s office contacted the FAA to track the flights of the Democratic legislators, an action that would get him a unanimous admonishment by the House Ethics Committee along with his hosting a fundraiser for an energy company while Congress was considering energy legislation. The latter he was dinged on for giving the impression that the energy company was paying him to push such legislation, although the committee found no evidence that he had been bribed. DeLay would again be admonished unanimously by the House Ethics Committee in 2004 for offering his endorsement of Rep. Nick Smith’s (R-Mich.) son to succeed him in exchange for his vote for Medicare Part D. Part D was passed by only one vote in the House in its first go-around and by five votes on its final passage, and DeLay had to navigate discontent from a minority group of conservatives which included future Vice President Mike Pence of Indiana over projected cost. Smith ultimately voted against Part D and his son didn’t succeed him to Congress.


The results of DeLay’s efforts spoke for themselves: in 2004, Democratic incumbents Max Sandlin, Nick Lampson, Jim Turner, Chris Bell, Charles Stenholm, and Martin Frost either retired, lost reelection, or lost renomination as a consequence of DeLay’s redistricting. Incumbent Ralph Hall, the most conservative Democrat at the time, avoided this fate by switching party affiliation. His redistricting resulted in a 21-11 Republican delegation. The Republicans turned a map that lopsidedly favored Democrats to one that lopsidedly favored them. In 2006, the Supreme Court upheld most of the redistricting as constitutional except the 23rd district which was found to be a racial gerrymander in violation of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. This district was crafted to protect Republican Henry Bonilla, who would lose reelection in 2006. I see DeLay’s actions here as speeding up a process that was already underway in Texas. This was also meant as a move to help preserve a Republican majority.


The Terri Schiavo Case

In 2005, DeLay got himself involved in the case of Terri Schiavo, a comatose woman on life support whose husband wanted to discontinue it and her parents who wanted to keep her on it. He of course got on the side of the parents but they lost the court case. On the day she died, DeLay said, “The time will come for the men responsible for this to answer for their behavior” (NBC News). This was interpreted by his critics as a threat to judges, and he subsequently apologized, holding his rhetoric “inartful”. An autopsy proved that Schiavo was indeed brain-dead.

Scandal: Jack Abramoff and Charges of Money Laundering

Tom DeLay as a master fundraiser straddled the line between legal and illegal. Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle charged that he had crossed this line in his fundraising for Texas state candidates, charging him with money laundering and conspiracy to do so. On September 28, 2005, DeLay and two associates were indicted on these charges after another jury had declined to indict. The charges were brought by Travis County DA Ronnie Earle, a Democrat with a maverick reputation. That day, he stepped down as House Majority Leader. DeLay subsequently wrote with Stephen Mansfield No Retreat, No Surrender: One American’s Fight in 2007 in which he blasted the indictment. He regarded it as a “criminalization” of politics. DeLay was also connected to Jack Abramoff as the latter was a prominent lobbyist connected to Republicans, and two former DeLay aides, Michael Scanlon and Tony Rudy, pled guilty to corruption. He was also a close friend of Abramoff, but DeLay was never charged regarding the man’s corruption.

In November 2010, DeLay was convicted of money laundering for funneling $190,000 in corporate contributions to candidates in Texas legislatives races in 2002 from funds raised by Texans for a Republican Majority PAC through the RNC to state legislative races, contravening a Texas state law that prohibits corporate money entering such races. He was sentenced to three years imprisonment. He condemned the verdict as a “criminalization of politics” (Langford). This was appealed and on September 19, 2013, an appeals court overturned the conviction 2-1 on the grounds of insufficient evidence to establish a crime, and this result and its reasoning was upheld by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals 8-1 on October 1st the following year.

What to Make of Tom DeLay?

A self-admitted partisan and ideologue, DeLay was a lightning rod and he knew it. His lifetime ADA score of 1% and ACU score of 96% certainly reinforce this view. Despite being for most of his leadership career the party whip he was the base of power among House Republicans and he was de facto leader. DeLay was not averse to pushing some measures backed by the Bush Administration that caused some discontent among hardcore conservatives, including Medicare Part D. He was a guy who pushed through by making use of loopholes and much like the man whose methods he had admired, he was forced to resign for issues surrounding his methods of fundraising. His approach did contribute to a growing partisanship, particularly with his mid-census redistricting and his approach to Washington lobbyists.

References


Burka, P. (1996, September). National Politics – Tom DeLay. Texas Monthly.

Retrieved from

https://www.texasmonthly.com/news-politics/national-politics-tom-delay/

Chronology: Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay. (2006). The New York Times.

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https://archive.nytimes.com/www.nytimes.com/ref/washington/delay-timeline.html

DeLay apologizes for Schiavo rhetoric. (2005, April 14). NBC News.

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https://www.nbcnews.com/id/wbna7500988

Dreyfuss, R. (2000, February 4). DeLay, Incorporated. The Texas Observer.

DuBose, L. & Reid, J. (2004). The hammer: Tom DeLay: God, money, and the rise of the Republican Congress. New York, NY: Public Affairs.

Langford, T. (2014, October 1). Court Backs Decision Reversing DeLay Convictions. The Texas Tribune.

Retrieved from

https://www.texastribune.org/2014/10/01/court-criminal-appeals-wont-reinstate-delay-convic/

Oreskes, M. (1989, May 27). Coelho to Resign His Seat in House in Face of Inquiry. The New York Times.

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https://www.nytimes.com/1989/05/27/us/coelho-to-resign-his-seat-in-house-in-face-of-inquiry.html

Russonello, G. (2016, July 6). Where are they now: Abramoff edition. Politico.

Retrieved from

https://www.politico.com/story/2010/07/where-are-they-now-abramoff-edition-039380

Thorpe, H. (1999, April). The Exterminator. Texas Monthly.

Retrieved from

https://www.texasmonthly.com/news-politics/the-exterminator/

Americans for Constitutional Action on the Great Society Congress

1965 Americans for Constitutional Action Index, House

1. 21-Day Rule
Majority Leader Carl Albert (D-Okla.) motion to adopt the rules for the 89th Congress, the primary provision of contention being the “21-Day Rule”, permitting the Speaker to recognize a member to call up floor action for a bill that had been bottled up in the Rules Committee for 21 days without a rule. This served to enable Great Society legislation to get past Rep. Howard Smith’s (D-Va.) Rules Committee and to the floor for votes.
Adopted 224-202: R 16-123; D 208-79, 1/4/65.
Yea = -, Nay = +
2. Prohibit Financing of Exports to Egypt
Rep. Robert Michel (R-Ill.) motion to instruct the conferees on the 1965 supplemental appropriation to insist on disagreement to the Senate amendment that eliminated a provision prohibiting the use of funds to finance export to Egypt of U.S. surplus farm commodities and to grant the President discretion in funding these exports.
Rejected 165-241: R 128-1; D 37-240, 2/8/65.
Yea = +, Nay = –
3. Repeal Gold Deposit Requirement
Passage of the bill eliminating the requirement that Federal Reserve banks maintain gold certificate reserves of not less than 25% against deposit liabilities.
Passed 300-82: R 45-71; D 255-11, 2/9/65.
Yea = -, Nay = +
4. Inter-American Development Bank
Passage of the bill authorizing the United States to increase the resources for the Fund for Special Operations of the Inter-American Development Bank by $750 million.
Passed 288-93: R 61-59; D 227-34, 2/18/65.
Yea = -, Nay = +
5. Appalachian Regional Development Act
Passage of the bill providing $840 million for construction of 3,350 miles of roads in the Appalachian region and $252.4 million for two years, as well as other public works and economic development programs for the Appalachian region.
Passed 257-165: R 25-109; D 232-56, 3/3/65.
Yea = -, Nay = +
6. Elementary and Secondary Education Act
Passage of the bill providing a three-year program of federal grants to school districts with large numbers of children from low-income families and providing for other forms of education aid.
Passed 263-153: R 35-96; D 228-57, 3/26/65.
Yea = -, Nay = +
7. Social Security Act Amendments
Passage of the bill providing for a compulsory hospital insurance program for the elderly financed by a payroll tax under the Social Security Act.
Passed 313-115: R 65-73; D 248-42, 4/8/65.
Yea = -, Nay = +
8. Defeat IMF Bill
Rep. Harold Collier (R-Ill.) motion to recommit, and thus kill, the bill authorizing an increase in the International Monetary Fund quota of the United States.
Rejected 113-275: R 97-34; D 16-241, 4/27/65.
Yea = +, Nay = –
9. Amend National Arts and Cultural Development Act of 1964
Passage of the bill providing that the $150,000 appropriation for the National Council on the Arts be on an annual basis.
Passed 239-116: R 55-70; D 184-46, 4/29/65.
Yea = -, Nay = +
10. Cut Foreign Aid and Insert Anti-Communist Requirement
Rep. E. Ross Adair (R-Ind.) motion to recommit the Foreign Assistance Act of 1965 to the Foreign Affairs Committee, with instructions to reduce funds for development loans by $130,958,000 and to require labor unions participating in Latin American housing projects to be “non-Communist dominated” and “free”.
Rejected 178-219: R 116-14; D 62-205, 5/25/65.
Yea = +, Nay = –
11. Increase the National Debt Limit
Passage of the bill increasing the temporary debt limit to $328 billion through June 30, 1966.
Passed 229-165: R 6-122; D 223-43, 6/9/65.
Yea = -, Nay = +
12. Housing and Urban Development Department
Passage of the bill establishing a cabinet-level Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and consolidating existing housing agencies under this department.
Passed 217-184: R 9-118; D 208-66, 6/16/65.
Yea = -, Nay = +
13. Delete Rent Supplements
Reps. James Harvey (R-Mich.) and Paul Fino (R-N.Y.) motion to recommit the Housing and Urban Development Act to the Banking and Currency Committee with instructions deleting the rent supplement provision and home improvement grants in urban renewal areas.
Rejected 202-208: R 130-4; D 72-204, 6/30/65.
Yea = +, Nay = –
14. Voting Rights Act of 1965
Passage of the bill suspending literacy tests or similar voter qualification devices in certain states as well as appointing federal voting examiners to register blacks in states and voting districts with low voter activity.
Passed 333-85: R 112-24; D 221-61, 7/9/65.
Yea = -, Nay = +
15. Coinage Act of 1965
Passage of the bill providing for the minting of dimes and quarters made of a copper-nickel alloy without silver, and minting half-dollars containing 40% silver.
Passed 255-151: R 36-97; D 219-54, 7/14/65.
Yea = -, Nay = +
16. Recommit Economic Opportunity Bill
Rep. Albert Quie (R-Minn.) motion to recommit the Economic Opportunity Amendments of 1965 to the House Education and Labor Committee, deleting a section allowing federal officials to override a state Governor’s veto of certain anti-poverty activities and cutting the 1966 appropriation of $1.9 billion to the 1965 level of $947.5 million.
Rejected 178-227: R 121-13; D 57-214, 7/22/65.
Yea = +, Nay = –
17. Economic Opportunity Amendments of 1965
Passage of the bill authorizing appropriations of $1.9 billion for the anti-poverty program in fiscal 1966 and allowing overrides of state Governor vetoes.
Passed 245-158: R 24-110; D 221-48, 7/22/65.
Yea = -, Nay = +
18. Kill State Right-to-Work Law Repeal
Rep. Robert Griffin (R-Mich.) motion to recommit and thus kill the bill repealing section 14(b) of the Taft-Hartley Act, which permits states to adopt right-to-work laws.
Rejected 200-223: R 120-19; D 80-204, 7/28/65.
Yea = +, Nay = –
19. Recommit the Public Works Bill
Rep. William Cramer (R-Fla.) motion to recommit the Public Works and Economic Development Act of 1965 with instructions deleting the provision for Government loans and guarantees for the purchase or development of land and facilities; provide for annual Congressional review of the economic development loan fund and require that funds for these projects be spent on American-made products.
Rejected 163-224: R 115-10; D 48-214, 8/12/65.
Yea = +, Nay = –
20. Kill the Food and Agriculture Act of 1965
Rep. Paul Dague (R-Penn.) motion to recommit and thus kill the bill covering wheat, cotton, wool, dairy, and feed grain commodities as well as providing for a cropland retirement program.
Rejected 169-224: R 110-14; D 59-210, 8/19/65.
Yea = +, Nay = –
21. Medical Education Aid Extension
Passage of the bill extending for three years the bill providing federal grants for construction of teaching facilities for training health personnel and loans for medical students.
Passed 340-47: R 88-38; D 252-9, 9/1/65.
Yea = -, Nay = +
22. Kill Federal Aid to Arts and Humanities
Rep. Robert Griffin (R-Mich.) motion to recommit (kill) the bill establishing a National Foundation on the Arts and Humanities, which provides federal aid to the visual and performing arts and humanities.
Rejected 128-251: R 79-44; D 49-207, 9/15/65.
Yea = +, Nay = –
23. Adopt Western Hemisphere Anti-Communist Resolution
Adoption of the non-binding Selden (D-Ala.) Resolution, expressing the sense of the House that military intervention is authorized by one or more Western Hemisphere nations in the event of the intervention of international Communism and its agencies in the Western Hemisphere.
Adopted 312-52: R 117-3; D 195-49, 9/20/65.
Yea = +, Nay = –
24. Kill D.C. Home Rule Bill
Rep. Alvin O’Konski (R-Wis.) motion to recommit (kill) the bill providing for election of a D.C. Charter Board and if D.C. voters favored home rule in a referendum the board draws up a charter which would be submitted to D.C. voters in another referendum and if approved would take effect in 90 days if not disapproved by either chamber of Congress.
Rejected 134-267: R 62-66; D 72-201, 9/29/65.
Yea = +, Nay = –
25. Prohibit Aid to Nations Aiding North Vietnam
Rep. Garner Shriver (R-Kan.) motion to recommit the foreign aid appropriations bill for 1966, insisting upon the retention of a House provision prohibiting aid to nations that sold, furnished, or shipped strategic goods to North Vietnam.
Rejected 164-174: R 105-2; D 59-172, 10/1/65.
Yea = +, Nay = –
26. Highway Beautification Act of 1965
Passage of the bill authorizing appropriations of $325 million in fiscal 1966-67 for federal-state programs removing billboards and junkyards along Interstate and primary highways and providing aid to states for landscaping and scenic development of federal-aid highways.
Passed 245-138: R 26-89; D 219-49, 10/7/65.
Yea = -, Nay = +
27. Delete Rent Supplement Funds
Rep. James Harvey (R-Mich.) amendment to the appropriations bill deleting the $180,000 appropriation for rent supplement payments and the $6 million contract authority for new dwellings in fiscal 1966.
Accepted 185-162: R 99-2; D 86-160, 10/14/65.
Yea = +, Nay = –
28. Delete Teacher Corps
Rep. Albert Quie (R-Minn.) motion to recommit the Higher Education Act of 1965, deleting the authorization for the Teacher Corps, in which teams of interns would be sent to help improve elementary and secondary school teaching in low-income areas.
Rejected 152-226: R 111-7; D 41-219, 10/20/65.
Yea = +, Nay = –

1965 Americans for Constitutional Action Index, Senate

1. Substitute for Water Quality Act
Sen. John Tower (R-Tex.) amendment to the 1965 Water Quality Act, removing the authority of the Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare from mandating water quality standards, only permitting recommendation for standards.
Rejected 15-62: R 12-13; D 3-49, 1/28/65.
Yea = +, Nay = –
2. Appalachian Regional Development Act of 1965
Passage of the bill providing $840 million for construction of 3,350 miles of roads in the Appalachian region and $252.4 million for two years, as well as other public works and economic development programs for the Appalachian region.
Passed 62-22: R 11-15; D 51-7, 2/1/65.
Yea = -, Nay = +
3. Relax Ban on Sales to Egypt If President Determines Sales Are in the National Interest
Passed 44-38: R 6-21; D 38-17, 2/3/65.
Yea = -, Nay = +
4. Policy on Maintenance of Gold Reserves
Sen. Frank Lausche (D-Ohio) amendment to the bill removing gold as a reserve for Federal Reserve deposits, expressing as the policy of Congress the maintenance of reserves not less than 25% gold against Federal Reserve notes, except in exceptional circumstances.
Rejected 22-58: R 18-8; D 4-50, 2/18/65.
Yea = +, Nay = –
5. Repayment Amendment, Inter-American Development Bank Bill
Sen. Wayne Morse (D-Ore.) amendment requiring any contribution of the U.S. conditioned on repayment of 50% in dollars in aggregate of loans made from such contributions.
Defeated 42-43: R 18-8; D 24-35, 2/24/65.
Yea = +, Nay = –
6. Require U.S. to Vote Against Loans for Any Nation Expropriating U.S. Businesses Without Compensation
Sen. Wayne Morse (D-Ore.) amendment requiring the U.S. to vote against loans for nations expropriating U.S. businesses without adequate compensation.
Passed 60-22: R 21-4; D 39-18, 2/25/65.
Yea = +, Nay = –
7. Limit Funds for Inter-American Development Bank
Sen. Frank Lausche (D-Ohio) amendment limiting the increased U.S. contribution to $400 million.
Rejected 37-44: R 18-7; D 19-37, 2/25/65.
Yea = +, Nay = –
8. Manpower Act of 1965
Passage of the bill providing for federal job training programs.
Passed 76-8: R 24-4; D 52-4, 3/16/65.
Yea = -, Nay = +
9. Elementary and Secondary Education Act
Passage of the bill providing for a 3-year program providing federal education grants to states for allocations to school districts with large numbers of poor families.
Passed 73-18: R 18-14; D 55-4, 4/9/65.
Yea = -, Nay = +
10. Poll Tax Ban – Voting Rights Act of 1965
Senator Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) amendment providing for a ban on local and state poll taxes.
Rejected 45-49: R 6-25; D 39-24, 5/11/65.
Yea = -, Nay = +
11. Voting Rights Act of 1965
Passage of the bill suspending literacy tests or similar voter qualification devices in certain states as well as appointing federal voting examiners to register blacks in states and voting districts with low voter activity.
Passed 77-19: R 30-2; D 47-17, 5/26/65.
Yea = -, Nay = +
12. Public Works and Economic Development Act of 1965
Passage of the public works bill providing for Government loans and guarantees for the purchase or development of land and facilities.
Passed 71-12: R 17-9; D 54-3, 6/1/65.
Yea = -, Nay = +
13. Delete Increased Multilateral Lending From Foreign Assistance Bill
Sen. Ernest Gruening (D-Alaska) amendment, striking language increasing multilateral lending through international lending organizations.
Defeated 40-46: R 16-11; D 24-35, 6/10/65.
Yea = +, Nay = –
14. Limit Foreign Aid Spending
Sen. Wayne Morse (D-Ore.) amendment, limiting to $3,243,000 million the foreign aid bill, translating to a $200 million cut.
Adopted 40-35: R 16-10; D 24-25, 6/11/65.
Yea = +, Nay = –
15. Bar Assistance to Nations Extending Fishing Area Beyond Recognized By the United States
Sen. Thomas Kuchel (R-Calif.) amendment, prohibiting assistance to nations extending their fishing area beyond what is recognized by the United States.
Adopted 59-24: R 26-2; D 33-22, 6/14/65.
Yea = +, Nay = –
16. Debt Limit Increase
Passage of the bill increasing the temporary debt limit to $328 billion through June 30, 1966.
Passed 61-26: R 12-16; D 49-10, 6/16/65.
Yea = -, Nay = +
17. Strike Medicare Provisions Part A and B
Sen. Carl Curtis (R-Neb.) amendment striking from the bill Medicare Parts A and B.
Defeated 26-64: R 18-11; D 8-53, 7/9/65.
Yea = +, Nay = –
18. Social Security Act Amendments
Passage of the bill providing for a compulsory hospital insurance program for the elderly financed by a payroll tax under the Social Security Act.
Passed 68-21: R 13-14; D 55-7, 7/9/65.
Yea = -, Nay = +
14. Strike Rent Supplements
Sen. John Tower (R-Tex.) amendment striking rent supplements for the disadvantaged.
Defeated 40-47: R 24-5; D 16-42, 7/15/65.
Yea = +, Nay = –
20. Housing and Urban Development of 1965
Passage of the bill expanding federal housing programs
Passed 54-30: R 7-19; D 47-11, 7/15/65.
Yea = -, Nay = +
21. D.C. Charter Act
Passage of the D.C. Charter Act establishing the D.C. Charter Board and if D.C. voters favored home rule in a referendum the board draws up a charter which would be submitted to D.C. voters in another referendum and if approved would take effect in 90 days if not disapproved by either chamber of Congress.
Passed 63-29: R 16-14; D 47-15, 7/22/65.
Yea = -, Nay = +
22. Reapportionment Amendment
Sen. Everett Dirksen (R-Ill.) proposed an amendment to the U.S. Constitution permitting state legislatures to consider factors other than population for legislative apportionment.
Defeated 57-39: R 29-3; D 28-36, 8/4/65.
Yea = +, Nay = –
23. Establish Department of Housing and Community Development
Passage of the bill establishing the Department of Housing and Community Development.
Passed 57-33: R 10-19; D 47-14, 8/11/65.
Yea = -, Nay = +
24. Cut Funding for Economic Opportunity Act Amendments
Sen. Peter Dominick (R-Colo.) amendment reducing spending on the Economic Opportunity Act from $1,650,000 to $1,097,500.
Defeated 40-51: R 27-4; D 13-47, 8/17/65.
Yea = +, Nay = –
25. Economic Opportunity Act Amendments
Passage of the bill authorizing appropriations of $1.9 billion for the anti-poverty program in fiscal 1966 and allowing overrides of state Governor vetoes.
Passed 61-29: R 9-20; D 52-9, 8/19/65.
Yea = -, Nay = +
26. Block Federal Control of Fraternities and Sororities in Higher Education Bill
Sen. Everett Dirksen (R-Ill.) amendment barring federal control of private fraternities, sororities, etc. in colleges and universities.
Adopted 60-28: R 27-2; D 33-26, 9/2/65.
Yea = +, Nay = –
27. Food and Agriculture Act
Passage of the bill for a four-year commodity program for wheat, cotton, wool, dairy, and feed grains as well as providing for a cropland retirement program.
Passed 72-22: R 16-14; D 56-8, 9/14/65.
Yea = -, Nay = +
28. Allow for Erection of Billboards If Agreed Upon by States and the Secretary of Commerce
Adopted 44-40: R 1-22; D 43-18, 9/16/65.
Yea = -, Nay = +
29. Federal Highway Beautification Act
Passage of the bill authorizing appropriations of $325 million in fiscal 1966-67 for federal-state programs removing billboards and junkyards along Interstate and primary highways and providing aid to states for landscaping and scenic development of federal-aid highways.
Passed 63-14: D 46-6; R 17-8, 9/16/65.
Yea = -, Nay = +

1966 Americans for Constitutional Action Index, House

1. Asian Development Bank Act
Passage of the bill authorizing the President to accept membership for the United States in the Asian Development Bank and authorizing $200 million for the subscription.
Passed 293-80: R 72-42; D 221-38, 2/9/66.
Yea = -, Nay = +
2. Recommit Foreign Aid Appropriations
Rep. Ed Derwinski (R-Ill.) motion to recommit the fiscal 1966 foreign aid appropriations to the House Foreign Affairs Committee with instructions to earmark the funding as follows: $275 million for Vietnam, $7.5 million for Laos, $7.5 million for Thailand, and $25 million for the Dominican Republic.
Rejected 169-213: R 117-13; D 52-200, 2/24/66.
Yea = +, Nay = –
3. Cotton Research and Promotion
Passage of the bill providing for a referendum to be held on a $1 a bale assessment on cotton farmers (refunded upon request) with funds being used for cotton research and promotion programs.
Passed 189-183: R 23-100; D 166-83, 3/3/66.
Yea = -, Nay = +
4. 5% Budget Cut, Interior Department Appropriations
Rep. Frank Bow (R-Ohio) motion to recommit the Interior Department appropriations, limiting expenditures to 95% of total expenditures estimated in the fiscal 1967 Budget.
Rejected 157-233: R 127-6; D 30-227, 4/6/66.
Yea = +, Nay = –
5. 5% Budget Cut, Treasury-Post Office Appropriations
Rep. Frank Bow (R-Ohio) motion to recommit the bill with instructions limiting expenditures to 95% of total expenditures estimated in the fiscal 1967 Budget.
Rejected 127-244: R 111-14; D 16-230, 4/6/66.
Yea = +, Nay = –
6. Grand Coulee Dam Power Plant
Passage of the bill authorizing $390 million for construction of a third power plant at the Grand Coulee Dam on the Columbia River in Washington.
Passed 249-79: R 38-74; D 211-5, 4/19/66.
Yea = -, Nay = +
7. Prohibit Food for Peace Funds for Trading Partners with North Vietnam
Rep. Paul Findley (R-Ill.) motion to recommit the agricultural appropriations bill with instructions to prohibit the sale of agricultural commodities under the Food for Peace program to nations trading with North Vietnam or permitting ships or airplanes of their registry to transport goods to Communist North Vietnam.
Adopted 290-98: R 132-0; D 158-98, 4/26/66.
Yea = +, Nay = –
8. Equal Employment Opportunity Act
Passage of the bill permitting the EEOC to issue cease and desist orders against discriminatory practices in employment and accelerating coverage of employers and unions by existing nondiscriminatory hiring and union membership requirements.
Passed 300-93: R 98-32; D 202-61, 4/27/66.
Yea = -, Nay = +
9. 5% Cut, Labor-HEW Appropriations
Rep. Frank Bow (R-Ohio) motion to recommit the Labor-HEW appropriations, limiting expenditures for agencies and programs funded to 95% of total expenditures estimated in the fiscal 1967 Budget.
Rejected 143-236: R 108-20; D 35-216, 5/5/66.
Yea = +, Nay = –
10. Increase Rent Supplements
Rep. Edward Boland (D-Mass.) amendment providing $20 million in rent supplement contractual authority (in addition to the $12 million already existing) and $2 million for payments in fiscal 1967.
Accepted 192-188: R 6-119; D 186-69, 5/10/66.
Yea = -, Nay = +
11. Participation Sales Act of 1966
Passage of the bill authorizing the Government to sell participations in pools of assets acquired by federal agencies in various lending programs.
Passed 206-190: R 0-126; D 206-64, 5/18/66.
Yea = -, Nay = +
12. Limit Application of Fair Labor Standards Act on Retail Establishments
Rep. John Anderson (R-Ill.) amendment deleting language extending minimum wage coverage in 1969 to certain retail and service establishments with gross sales or business of $50,000 or more (leaving a sales volume cutoff of $500,000 after its reduction to that level from the existing $1 million in 1967).
Rejected 195-200: R 111-14; D 84-186, 5/26/66.
Yea = +, Nay = –
13. Fair Labor Standards Amendments of 1966
Passage of the bill increasing the federal minimum wage for non-farm workers in stages from $1.25 to $1.60 an hour to become fully effective by Feb. 1, 1969 for presently covered workers and by Feb. 1, 1971, for non-farm workers previously exempt.
Passed 303-93: R 89-38; D 214-55, 5/26/66.
Yea = -, Nay = +
14. International Education Act of 1966
Passage of the bill providing financial aid for international studies at U.S. colleges and universities.
Passed 195-90: R 45-53; D 150-37, 6/6/66.
Yea = -, Nay = +
15. Raise the Debt Limit
Passage of the bill increasing the temporary debt limit from $328 to $330 billion and extend it for one year.
Passed 199-165: R 1-121; D 198-44, 6/8/66.
Yea = -, Nay = +
16. Increase Repayment Period Under the Food for Freedom Act
Adoption of the Agriculture Committee amendment increasing maximum repayment period for long-term dollar credit sales under Title I from 20 to 40 years.
Accepted 193-165: R 2-121; D 191-44, 6/9/66.
Yea = -, Nay = +
17. Anti-Communist Amendment to Food for Freedom Act
Rep. Prentiss Walker (R-Miss.) motion to recommit the Food for Freedom Act of 1966, ban dollar (and local currency) sales to all Communist countries (aimed at Poland and Yugoslavia) and to prohibit Government resale of commodities at less than 115% of the current price-support level or less than 80% of parity, whichever was higher, whenever carryover was less than 50% (rather than 25).
Rejected 157-200: R 118-6; D 39-194, 6/9/66.
Yea = +, Nay = –
18. Consumer Credit Controls
Adoption of the House Banking and Currency Committee amendment adding language providing the President with standby authority to issue regulations to control the extension of consumer credit.
Rejected 73-275: R 2-113; D 71-162, 6/16/66.
Yea = -, Nay = +
19. Cut Foreign Aid
Rep. E. Ross Adair (R-Ind.) motion to recommit the Foreign Assistance Act amendments with instructions to shorten the two-year authorizations to one year with the exception of the Alliance for Progress and the Development Loan Fund and to reduce the Loan Fund authorization from $1 billion to $750 million annually.
Rejected 191-193: R 121-4; D 70-189, 7/14/66.
Yea = +, Nay = –
20. Passage of the Foreign Assistance Act Amendments
Passage of the bill authorizing foreign aid appropriations of $4,109,119,000 in fiscal 1967 and $1,158,339,000 in fiscal 1968 for economic and military assistance as well as five-year authorizations for the Alliance for Progress and the Development Loan Fund.
Passed 237-146: R 36-89; D 201-57, 7/14/66.
Yea = -, Nay = +
21. Conference Report of the Small Reclamation Projects Act Amendments
Adoption of the conference report increasing authorizations for the small reclamation projects program from $100 million to $200 million, extending the program to all 50 states (instead of just 17 Western reclamation states), raising the limit on federal aid to a single project from $5 million to $6.5 million, and setting a new interest rate for program loans.
Rejected 136-204: R 43-76; D 93-128, 7/21/66.
Yea = -, Nay = +
22. Delete Open Housing Title of Civil Rights Act of 1966
Rep. Arch Moore (R-W.V.) motion to recommit the Civil Rights Act of 1966, deleting Title IV, the open housing title.
Rejected 190-222: R 86-50; D 104-172, 8/9/66.
Yea = +, Nay = –
23. Civil Rights Act of 1966
Passage of the bill barring discrimination in the selection of federal and state juries, to provide for injunctive relief against and punishment for interference with the exercise of rights, and to bar discrimination in the sale or rental of some housing and to authorize suits to desegregate public facilities.
Passed 259-157: R 76-62; D 183-95, 8/9/66.
Yea = -, Nay = +
24. Delete Highway Beautification Funds in Highway Authorization
Minority Leader Gerald Ford (R-Mich.) motion to recommit the bill with instructions to delete $493 million in fiscal 1968-69 appropriations for highway beautification.
Rejected 173-175: R 114-4; D 59-171, 8/11/66.
Yea = +, Nay = –
25. Cut Funds for Mass Transit
Rep. Burt Talcott (R-Calif.) motion to recommit the Urban Mass Transportation Act of 1966 to the Banking and Currency Committee with instructions to reduce the authorization for appropriations from $175 million to $150 million for fiscal 1968 and to extend the program for one year instead of indefinitely.
Adopted 205-161: R 113-12; D 92-149, 8/16/66.
Yea = +, Nay = –
26. Urban Mass Transportation Act of 1966
Passage of the bill extending the Urban Mass Transportation Act of 1964 for one year, authorizing appropriations for $150 million for fiscal 1968, and increasing the limit on what may be spend on research, development, and demonstration projects.
Passed 236-127: R 59-66; D 177-61, 8/16/66.
Yea = -, Nay = +
27. 10% Cut, Foreign Aid Appropriations
Rep. Frank Bow (R-Ohio) motion to recommit the Foreign Assistance and Related Agencies Appropriations for Fiscal 1967 with instructions to limit appropriations for economic assistance to $2,222,065,800, constituting a 10% reduction in economic aid below Budget requests.
Adopted 186-183: R 116-8; D 70-175, 9/20/66.
Yea = +, Nay = –

1966 Americans for Constitutional Action Index, Senate

1. Defeat Allowing Small Business Administration to Sell Participations
Sen. Leverett Saltonstall (R-Mass.) motion to recommit (kill) the bill permitting the Small Business Administration to enter into a trust agreement with the Federal National Mortgage Association for the sale of SBA participation certificates.
Rejected 26-51: R 26-0; D 0-51, 3/15/66.
Yea = +, Nay = –
2. Reapportionment Constitutional Amendment
Adoption of an amendment to the United States Constitution permitting states to reapportion one legislature on the basis of population, geography, and political subdivisions.
Rejected 55-38: R 29-3; D 26-35, 4/20/66.
Yea = +, Nay = –
3. Rural Development Districts
Passage of the bill authorizing the establishment of rural community development districts to be designated by states or local governments for the purpose of area-wide planning and authorize federal grants to help pay the costs of planning activities in the districts.
Passed 43-21: R 5-19; D 38-2, 4/25/66.
Yea = -, Nay = +
4. Delete Rent Supplement Funds
Adopt Senate Appropriations Committee amendment deleting the section of the bill authorizing $12 million in contractual authority for rent supplements and appropriating $100,000 for rent supplement payments in fiscal 1966.
Rejected 45-46: R 26-5; D 19-41, 4/27/66.
Yea = +, Nay = –
5. Participation Sales Act of 1966
Passage of the bill authorizing the Government to sell to investors participations in pools of loans held by six federal lending agencies.
Passed 39-22: R 5-20; D 34-2, 5/5/66.
Yea = -, Nay = +
6. Limit Price Supports to $10,000
Sen. John Williams (R-Del.) amendment limiting to $10,000 the amount any producer covered by the bill could receive support and acreage diversion payments.
Accepted 42-27: R 21-5; D 21-22, 6/1/66.
Yea = +, Nay = –
7. Weaken Fair Packaging and Labeling Bill
Sen. Norris Cotton (R-N.H.) amendment, deleting sections authorizing federal officials to establish standard weights and quantities for the packaging of commodities covered by the bill.
Rejected 32-53: R 25-4; D 7-49, 6/8/66.
Yea = +, Nay = –
8. Cotton Research and Promotion
Passage of the bill providing for a referendum to be held on a $1 a bale assessment on cotton farmers (refunded upon request) with funds being used for cotton research and promotion programs.
Passed 49-20: R 11-12; D 38-8, 6/15/66.
Yea = -, Nay = +
9. Raise the Debt Limit
Passage of the bill raising the temporary debt limit from $328 billion to $330 billion and extending it for one year.
Passed 50-17: R 10-9; D 40-8, 6/16/66.
Yea = -, Nay = +
10. State, Not Federal Mine Safety Inspection
Sen. Jacob Javits (R-N.Y.) amendment providing that states be placed in charge of mine inspection and enforcement of safety standards.
Accepted 41-39: R 27-0; D 14-39, 6/23/66.
Yea = +, Nay = –
11. No Recruitment of Unemployed and Underemployed for Manpower
Sen. Peter Dominick (R-Colo.) amendment deleting language authorizing recruitment of the unemployed and underemployed or of manpower to meet national security needs.
Rejected 31-58: R 26-5; D 5-53, 6/28/66.
Yea = +, Nay = –
12. Prohibit Setting Standards for Payment of State Employees
Sen. Winston Prouty (R-Vt.) amendment deleting language directing the Secretary of Labor to set standards for personnel systems and salary scales in state employment agencies.
Adopted 47-42: R 28-2; D 19-40, 6/29/66.
Yea = +, Nay = –
13. Table Prohibition on Solicitations of Contributions from Civil Service Employees
Sen. Mike Monroney (D-Okla.) motion to table the Williams (R-Del.) amendment prohibiting representatives of political committees from soliciting contributions from civil service employees.
Adopted 48-33: R 0-28; D 48-5, 7/11/66.
Yea = -, Nay = +
14. Establish Summer Lunch Program for Day Camps
Sen. Abraham Ribicoff (D-Conn.) amendment establishing a summer lunch program for day camps and similar activities.
Rejected 37-42: R 3-26; D 34-16, 7/12/66.
Yea = -, Nay = +
15. Place $50,000 Ceiling on Price Supports
Sen. Daniel Brewster (D-Md.) amendment to the Agricultural Appropriations bill, placing a $50,000 ceiling on the amount of price support loans and direct payments a producer could receive under the Food and Agriculture Act of 1965.
Rejected 28-53: R 10-16; D 18-37, 7/15/66.
Yea = +, Nay = –
16. Cut Development Loan Fund
Sen. Everett Dirksen (R-Ill.) amendment to the Foreign Assistance Act, reducing by $250 million the 1967 authorization for the Development Loan Fund, from $620 million to $370 million.
Accepted 59-34: R 28-3; D 31-31, 7/20/66.
Yea = +, Nay = –
17. Byrd Resolution
Sen. Harry Byrd Jr. (D-Va.) amendment to the Foreign Assistance Act, stating the sense of Congress that the action of any government giving approval and financial backing to an arrangement in which an international consortium in West Europe would supply steel plants to Communist China was “a grave blow to the common defense of the free world and the safety of American and allied troops in Viet Nam.” This amendment was directed at West Germany.
Accepted 56-33: R 21-8; D 35-25, 7/26/66.
Yea = +, Nay = –
18. Foreign Assistance Act of 1966
Passage of the bill to authorize $2,059,762,000 for foreign economic assistance during fiscal 1967 and to further amend the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961.
Passed 66-27: R 18-12; D 48-15, 7/26/66.
Yea = -, Nay = +
19. Federal Financing for New Unemployment Benefits Program
Committee amendment providing full federal financing instead of joint federal-state funding for a new program of extended unemployment compensation benefits available during periods of national or state recession.
Accepted 47-39: R 5-23; D 42-16, 8/8/66.
Yea = -, Nay = +
20. Minimum Federal Standards for Unemployment Applied to States
Passage of the bill requiring states to provide a minimum of 26 weeks of unemployment compensation coverage for workers who had been employed 39 weeks or more.
Passed 53-31: R 8-20; D 45-11, 8/8/66.
Yea = -, Nay = +
21. Fund Community Development Training Programs
Sen. Joseph Clark (D-Penn.) amendment providing $5,150,000 for community development training programs under the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Rejected 40-45: R 7-22; D 33-23, 8/10/66.
Yea = -, Nay = +
22. Cut Funding for Urban Mass Transit Programs
Sen. John Tower (R-Tex.) amendment to reduce funds for urban mass transit programs by $75 million a year, from $225 million to $150 million for each of the fiscal years 1968 and 1969.
Accepted 47-34: R 27-4; D 20-30, 8/15/66.
Yea = +, Nay = –
23. Urban Mass Transportation Act Extension
Passage of the bill extending the Urban Mass Transportation Act of 1964 for two years through fiscal 1969, authorizing appropriations of $150 million for each of the fiscal years 1968 and 1969; increasing limit on the amount which may be spent on research, development and demonstration projects; and authorizing new grant programs for training of mass transit personnel and for planning and design of new facilities.
Passed 65-18: R 17-14; D 48-4, 8/15/66.
Yea = -, Nay = +
24. Delete Demonstration City Project Funding
Sen. John Tower (R-Tex.) amendment deleting the bill’s authorization for $900 million in grants to “demonstration city” projects for fiscal 1968 and 1969 (leaving only $24 million in planning funds).
Rejected 27-53: R 17-10; D 10-43, 8/19/66.
Yea = +, Nay = –
25. Demonstration City Bill
Passage of the bill authorizing “demonstration city” grants for community renewal, “incentive” planning grants for orderly metropolitan development and other programs relating to housing and urban development.
Passed 53-22: R 14-13; D 39-9, 8/19/66.
Yea = -, Nay = +
26. Retail Sales Amendment to Fair Labor Standards Bill
Sen. Everett Dirksen (R-Ill.) amendment eliminating the bill’s second step sales volume cutoff, effective in 1969, which extended minimum wage and overtime pay protection to workers in certain retail and service firms with gross annual sales or business of $250,000 or more, instead keeping it at $500,000.
Rejected 41-41: R 20-7; D 21-34, 8/26/66.
Yea = +, Nay = –
27. Fair Labor Standards Act of 1966
Passage of the bill increasing the federal minimum age for nonfarm workers in stages from $1.25 to $1.60 an hour, to become fully effective by Feb. 1, 1968, for presently covered workers, and by Feb. 1, 1971, for nonfarm workers brought under coverage for the first time by the bill; extend minimum wage coverage to an additional 7 million employees not previously covered; and establish a minimum wage of $1 an hour for newly covered farm workers, to be increased in steps to $1.30 by Feb. 1., 1969.
Passed 57-17: R 15-9; D 42-8, 8/26/66.
Yea = -, Nay = +
28. Require Bartering for Food for Strategic Materials
Sen. Everett Dirksen (R-Ill.) amendment requiring the United States to barter food for strategic materials instead of selling the food in the case of any country having strategic materials needed by the United States.
Rejected 19-55: R 9-11; D 10-44, 8/30/66.
Yea = +, Nay = –
29. School Prayer Amendment
Passage of the bill proposing an amendment to the Constitution to permit voluntary prayer in public schools.
Rejected 49-37: R 27-3; D 22-34, 9/21/66.
Yea = +, Nay = –

Below are links to how the legislators scored, these are a bit modified as they count pairs for and against legislation.

1965 House

1965 Senate

1966 House

1966 Senate

George Aiken: Catalyst for Change

I have written about Vermont’s change from being one of the nation’s most Republican states to being one of the nation’s most Democratic states, and some of the answer lies in demographic changes in the state (Bernie Sanders is a New York City transplant, for instance) while some of the answer lies in change in political leadership and how Vermonters saw themselves. The old orthodoxy in Vermont can best be seen as a rugged Coolidge-like conservatism; one of the six senators to vote against Social Security was from Vermont, and the state had numerous conservative figures representing it in the early 20th century including William Dillingham, Redfield Proctor, and Frank Greene. The state was one of only two to not once vote for FDR. Today I will focus on a figure who has great responsibility in moving the state to other places, and that was a Republican named George Aiken (1892-1984).


Aiken in numerous ways challenged Republican orthodoxy in Vermont, and ultimately played an outsized role, along with Ernest W. Gibson Jr., in transforming the state party. He was part of a traditionally Republican Vermont family and like his parents, was a horticulturalist. He won his first election in 1920 to his town’s school board. In 1930, Aiken ran for the State House of Representatives and won. There he became known from the start as a maverick, as he fought private power companies and he quickly gained popularity. In 1933, despite the conservative establishment’s wishes, Aiken would be elected speaker. As speaker he was instrumental in the passage of the Poor Debtor Law, a protection for those who had trouble paying off their debts. His one term as speaker was a springboard to being elected lieutenant governor in 1934. That year was a challenging one for Republicans, even in “safe” territory such as Vermont. Senator Warren Austin, a staunch anti-New Dealer, for instance, came within three points of losing reelection that year.


Aiken’s term as lieutenant governor was yet another springboard for higher office, and in 1936 he was elected governor. As governor, he shifted the state of politics towards the center and supported some aspects of the New Deal while opposing others, such as flood control policy. Aiken was also a trust-buster, but also proved fiscally conservative enough to reduce the state’s debt. On the national level, he was dissatisfied with the standpat inclination of the national party, holding in a February 12, 1938 speech at the Waldorf Astoria for Lincoln’s birthday that, “To represent the people one must follow them. Lincoln did. The Republican national leadership today does not” (O’Connor).


The Senate


In 1940, Senator Ernest W. Gibson dies. Aiken appoints his son, Gibson Jr., with the understanding that his is a temporary spot as Aiken wants the Senate seat and in a special election, he wins with 61.6% of the vote. This will be his most challenging election.


Aiken starts his Senate career as a staunch non-interventionist, opposing Lend Lease and delivering his first Senate speech against it. He also opposes the extension of the peacetime draft, and arming merchant ships. Aiken is in truth quite a contrast from his fellow Vermonter, Warren Austin, an interventionist who opposed the New Deal. By 1945, however, he has gone down the Vandenberg road like Charles Tobey in neighboring New Hampshire and changed to internationalist. Aiken proves one of the most accommodating Republican senators to the new President Truman. In 1946, Aiken votes against the Case Labor Bill, which is vetoed by Truman, which he finds too harsh on labor. Starting in that year, he and Ernest W. Gibson Jr. start cultivating more moderate to liberal people in the GOP, and among their progeny included future Senators Robert Stafford and Jim Jeffords.


In the 80th Congress, he is among those who push back against Senator Robert Taft’s (R-Ohio) agenda on domestic issues. Aiken votes for tax reduction but then upholds Truman’s veto of it, and he supports the Taft-Hartley Act but is one of the few Republicans to oppose the Bulwinkle bill, which exempts railroad joint rate agreements from anti-trust laws if they were approved by the Interstate Commerce Commission. Aiken also backs the Truman Doctrine and the Marshall Plan. In 1950, he is one of the six Republican senators to join Margaret Chase Smith (R-Me.) in her “declaration of conscience” against the methods of Senator Joseph McCarthy of Wisconsin but also votes for the anti-communist McCarran Internal Security Act, providing for registration of communist organizations with the Attorney General. In 1954, Aiken voted for the St. Lawrence Seaway, a project he had long supported despite much oppositon to it coming from the east coast, including from his Vermont colleague Ralph Flanders. That year, he opposed the Bricker Amendment, which if adopted would have added to the Constitution that treaties could not supersede the Constitution.


Although overall supportive of civil rights, Aiken sponsors with Senator Clinton Anderson (D-N.M.) a restrictive amendment to the Civil Rights Act of 1957, which strikes any implementation of the 14th Amendment from the bill. This is a change that although is backed by many conservatives, it is opposed by the Eisenhower Administration. It is one of two amendments, along with the jury trial amendment, that renders the law as little more than a base from which other civil rights laws are built from.


Aiken and the Politics of the Sixties


Senator Aiken votes against Kennedy’s public works program and votes in 1959, 1962, and 1964 against Medicare while backing job training programs, foreign aid legislation, the Limited Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, and guaranteeing credits to the USSR for grain purchases. He also supports the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964, the flagship legislation for President Johnson’s War on Poverty. Aiken also proves strongly supportive of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and consistently votes against weakening amendments. During this time, he has breakfast daily with Senate Majority Leader Mike Mansfield (D-Mont.), a practice one can hardly imagine would happen with Chuck Schumer and any Republican. Aiken was so personally popular that he barely had to spend money to win reelection. In 1962, he spent around $14. In his his final bid in 1968, he spent $17.09 to win both the Republican and Democratic nominations and to put himself on the ballot. His only opposition was in the primary from a conservative who derided Aiken as being supported by communists, but he wasn’t a serious threat and faced no opposition in the general election.
The Johnson Presidency


After the 1964 election, Aiken changes his mind on Medicare, and opposes deleting it from the Social Security Amendments in 1965. He backs rent subsidies and opposes repealing the Taft-Hartley Act. Aiken also votes for constitutional amendments on legislative reapportionment and school prayer. In 1965, he sponsors with Representative Bob Poage (D-Tex.) the Poage-Aiken Act, securing water and wastewater systems in rural regions. Aiken had throughout his career supported aid for rural areas.


A Vietnam “Owl”


Senator Aiken was one of the elder statesmen that President Johnson consulted with on the Vietnam War, and it was in 1966 that he allegedly dispensed his famous advice of “declare victory and get out”. What he actually said was, “The United States could well declare unilaterally … that we have ‘won’ in the sense that our armed forces are in control of most of the field and no potential enemy is in a position to establish its authority over South Vietnam,” and that such a declaration “would herald the resumption of political warfare as the dominant theme in Vietnam. It may be a far-fetched proposal, but nothing else has worked” (Elder). Aiken himself would endorse “declare victory and get out” as the gist of his words.
Aiken was said to be an “owl” rather than a dove or a hawk on the Vietnam War, as he neither supported the “hawks” or “doves” 100%. He did vote in 1970 for the Cooper-Church Amendment blocking funds for deploying U.S. troops in Cambodia and in 1971 supported Senate Majority Leader Mike Mansfield’s (D-Mont.) proposal for a nine-month withdrawal from Vietnam contingent on POW releases. Aiken, however, opposed more extreme measures, such as the McGovern-Hatfield “End the War” Amendment in 1970, which would have required a ceasing of all operations in Vietnam by December 31, 1970, contingent on POW releases.

The Final Years


Aiken maintained his independence during the Nixon Administration and in 1973, similar to his advice on Vietnam to LBJ, he said on Watergate to either impeach Nixon or get off his back. That year he was interviewed for a magazine called Vermont Life by a freelance journalist named Bernie Sanders, who at that point had been the socialist Liberty Union Party’s 1972 nominee for the Senate and the gubernatorial race. In this interview Aiken recounted how he had in 1909 met and shaken hands with President Taft, and Sanders brought to him the following topic, “There’s been some discussion lately about the state of Vermont being, in a sense, dominated or over-run by out of state interests. For example, a lot of the large Vermont industries are selling out to out-of-state corporations”, to which Aiken responded, “We do hate to see the old home-owned, home-grown industries fall into the hands of a giant corporation. But it’s something we can’t stop and it’s a worldwide situation. When you can’t stop it — you’ve got to guide it. I used to say that if you stand on the track and see a train coming down you can do one of two things. You can stand still and get run over, or you can hop on it and try to control it” (O’Connor).


By 1974, Aiken was 82 years old and ready to hang up his hat. That year, he votes against a federal death penalty, for a treaty on the prevention of genocide, for consumer protection legislation, for ending presidential monitoring of the economy, and against campaign finance legislation (although he voted to end debate on it). In his final speech, he made what he thought of as a “confession” as to his legislative behavior. He stated, “During the 34 years of my tenure as U.S. Senator, I have committed many sins. I have voted for measures which I felt were wrong, comforting myself with the excuse that the House of Representatives, the conference committee, or, if necessary, the chief occupant of the White House would make the proper cor­rections. At other times, I have voted for measures with which I did not agree for the purpose of preventing the approval of other measures which I felt would be worse” (Schlafly). Aiken was a moderate but also, he had seen himself as a pragmatist, and this speech appears to have been him having some regrets about his approach. His successor is currently himself serving in his last year in the Senate, the state’s first Democratic senator since the foundation of the Republican Party, Pat Leahy. Bernie Sanders would say about him in 2006, “I can’t say I have based my political work on his, but Aiken has always been a name and a person I’ve respected and admired. What I liked about him and what made him successful was his straightforwardness, his common sense, his down to earth-ness. He was clearly a man of the people” (O’Connor).

References


Aiken’s Costs Up — to $17. (1968, September 13). The New York Times.


Retrieved from


https://www.nytimes.com/1968/09/13/archives/aikens-costs-up-to-17.html


About George Aiken. The University of Vermont Professional and Continuing Education.


Retrieved from


https://learn.uvm.edu/aiken/about-george-aiken/


Elder, R. (1966, October 20). Aiken Suggests U.S. Say It Has Won the War. The New York Times, pg. 1.


O’Connor, K. (2016, January 17). The stories about Bernie: Following in someone else’s footsteps. VTDigger.


Retrieved from


https://vtdigger.org/2016/01/17/the-stories-about-bernie-following-in-someone-elses-footsteps/

Schlafly, P. (1975, February 4). Aiken’s Explanation. Phyllis Schlafly Report.

Retrieved from

How They Voted: Alaska and Hawaii Statehood

When we think about “dead” issues, two that are as dead as doornails are the controversies surrounding the statehood of Alaska and Hawaii. The issues surrounding the two were in some ways the same and in others different. Unlike today, when the controversy began Alaska was seen as a Democratic state while Hawaii was seen as a Republican state. After World War II, admission of both became a cause supported by the liberal lobbying group Americans for Democratic Action. Conservatives didn’t seem to prioritize opposition to statehood, as Americans for Constitutional Action didn’t find these issues ideologically significant enough to score in their ratings. The primary opposition group to both were Southern Democrats. Southern Democrats had three reasons for opposition to statehood. First, the state was Republican (at least before 1954), second, the state would be majority non-white, and third was the civil rights issue. They saw, correctly from their standpoint, the admission of Hawaii and Alaska as granting four more votes for civil rights legislation. Indeed, when the critical vote to end debate on the Civil Rights Act of 1964 passed 71-29, four of the votes came from Alaska and Hawaii. Although Senate Majority Leader Lyndon B. Johnson (D-Tex.) voted to admit Hawaii in 1959, he had previously been deeply involved in previous efforts to stymie its admission; in 1952 he voted to kill Alaska and Hawaii statehood for the session, which had been killed by a margin of a single vote. Johnson also voted against in 1954. Some Democrats had as motive to oppose Hawaii statehood that Alaska statehood was being blocked…. this motivated some House Democrats to vote against Hawaii’s admission in protest in the Republican controlled 83rd Congress, the House leadership which refused to consider Alaska statehood. Republicans saw Alaska statehood as a boon for Democrats and also thought of Alaska as a “welfare state”, which to be fair it kind of is with its annual payments to people as enticements to live there. Critical in getting the states admitted was in the persuasion of President Eisenhower to publicly back both, which he did in 1958.


First up was Alaska for statehood. House passage of Alaska statehood was a bit contentious, with it being passed 210-166. Democrats broke for 118-81, and Republicans did so 92-85 on My 28, 1958. The Senate easily adopted Alaska statehood on a vote of 64-20, with Democrats breaking for 31-13 and Republicans 33-7 on June 30th. Nearly all Senate votes against were Southern, and the seven Republicans against included Prescott Bush of Connecticut with its admission resulting in the elevation of its two foremost advocates who I’ve covered earlier, Bob Bartlett and Ernest Gruening, to the Senate.


On March 11th, the Senate voted to admit Hawaii on a vote of 76-15, with Democrats voting for 46-14, and Republicans voting for 30-1. All of the Democrats against were Southern, and the one Republican in opposition was Maryland’s John Marshall Butler. the House followed suit the following day on a vote of 323-89, with Democrats breaking for 203-65 and Republicans 124-24. Nearly all of the Democratic opposition was from the South, and many of the Republicans who were against were among those who also consistently opposed civil rights legislation.

Eisenhower signs Alaska statehood, 1958.

Votes

Alaska Statehood, House and Senate:

Hawaii Statehood, Senate and House:

Charles W. Tobey: The Granite State Maverick

New Hampshire had a reputation for quite some time for producing flinty conservative Republicans, but Charles W. Tobey (1880-1953) was not one of them. Tobey’s background was one based on a biblical education, rather than much of a formal one and throughout his career, he would make extensive use of biblical quotations. His ability to rise to be a farm owner and a banker despite his humble beginnings convinced him of the American dream.


In his early career, Tobey sided with the progressive Republican Robert P. Bass and with Theodore Roosevelt’s 1912 campaign. In 1914, Tobey was elected to the General Court as a Progressive Republican and served three non-consecutive terms, him being speaker from 1919-1920. In 1924, Tobey was elected to the state Senate. Despite opposition to him in the primary by some die-hard conservatives such as Senator George Moses, he was in 1928 with the help of his campaign manager Styles Bridges elected New Hampshire’s governor. As governor, he emphasized both road building and fiscal conservatism. Tobey didn’t run for reelection in 1930 due to personal financial issues related to the Great Depression, but it didn’t take too long for him to get those resolved.


In 1932, Tobey was elected to Congress, succeeding arch-conservative Edward Wason. Tobey was, although fiscally conservative, willing to support some early New Deal measures, including the Agricultural Adjustment Act and the National Industrial Recovery Act. Consistent with his Bull Moose background, he believed that there was a minimum level of social welfare programs needed. Tobey’s record during FDR’s first term could be described as moderately conservative. However, he was becoming increasingly wary of the expansion of executive power under Roosevelt and became more opposed to his initiatives. In 1938, Tobey pursued House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Sol Bloom (D-N.Y.) on a charge that he had profited from the sesquicentennial celebration of the signing of the Constitution and went as far as to dive into anti-Semitic tropes when he wrote in a letter, “Bloom is a Jew with all it implies; very able and always makes everything play for his own aggrandizement” (Bankson, 83). He defeated Democratic incumbent Fred Brown for a Senate seat that year in the backlash to the Roosevelt Administration.


In his first four years, he was a staunch non-interventionist and archconservative. He voted against the repealing the arms embargo in 1939 and the Lend-Lease Act in 1941 and spoke at America First rallies, with him declaring in one speech on September 17, 1941 that, “Today, certain forces in our country, intrigues by inter-national interests, are bending their every effort to embroil us in the European holocaust, by ignoring the Constitutional prerogatives of the people’s representatives in the Congress, which body has the sole power to declare war” (Tobey). It was Tobey’s belief that President Roosevelt’s efforts to get the United States into World War II would result in a fatal undermining of free enterprise and an undesirable consolidation of power in the executive. He also asserted in a letter to a constituent, “It is not necessary for us to get into the war. We are not a nation such as the small nations of Europe that have been overrun by Hitler. We of America are 132 million strong, able to out-produce all of Europe, and able to take care of ourselves in this world should any nation or nations attempt to come our way” (Bankson, 2). However, Tobey was not opposed to preparation…in 1940 he voted for the peacetime draft. During this time, he took great pride in being regarded as a leading thorn in the side of the Roosevelt Administration. As he wrote, “The Administration hates me more than any other member of the Senate and if they could get me in a concentration camp they would do it with glee” (Bankson, 139).


Although after the declaration of war in 1941, despite supporting the war effort he appeared to remain in the non-interventionist camp, but within a three-month period in 1944 he started taking the Vandenberg path…moving from non-interventionist to internationalist; that year he requested a spot at the Bretton Woods Conference in New Hampshire, which was granted. Tobey also was moving to the center on domestic issues. By 1944, he was moving into the progressive wing of the GOP. This put him greatly at odds with his conservative colleague and former campaign manager Styles Bridges, who he had previously been to the right of on foreign policy, and the two had been on such poor terms since they differed on foreign policy pre-1941 that they hardly spoke to each other (U.S. Senate). During the 80th Congress, he was a frequent dissenter of Senator Robert Taft’s (R-Ohio) leading of domestic issues and was one of the few Republicans to vote against overriding President Truman’s veto of the Bulwinkle Bill, which exempted railroad joint rate agreements from antitrust prosecution if the ICC had approved of them. In 1950, Tobey was named to the Kefauver Committee, which investigated organized crime. Many watched the televised hearings and along with the namesake of the committee, Estes Kefauver of Tennessee, Tobey gained popularity in the limelight with his biblical quotations and his biting responses to testifying witnesses (The New York Times).


On June 1st, Tobey was one of six Republican senators to join Margaret Chase Smith in her “declaration of conscience” against the methods of Senator Joseph McCarthy of Wisconsin. This along with his increasing liberalism got him targeted for a primary defeat by a candidate backed by both Joseph McCarthy and fellow New Hampshire Senator Styles Bridges in 35-year-old S. Wesley Powell, the latter’s administrative assistant, who condemned him as a “Truman Republican” and “the darling of the C.I.O.” (Time). Tobey naturally did not agree with this assessment. He held, “No man in the United States Senate today has fought the Truman crowd more than Charles W. Tobey . . . Down in Washington they have the damnedest, or damnable, crew of rascals” (TIME). Tobey narrowly won renomination and won reelection handily despite Powell opting for a write-in campaign. His record in 1950 included voting in support of granting easier credit to housing co-ops and non-profit housing, opposition to natural gas deregulation, support for Point Four foreign aid, opposition to extending rent control, and support for the McCarran Internal Security Act. Tobey’s last term would certainly be his most liberal. He opposed the McCarran-Walter Immigration Act, opposed the Tidelands Bill, opposed public housing cuts, and opposed using the Taft-Hartley injunction in a steel dispute.


In 1952, Tobey backed General Dwight Eisenhower for the Republican nomination and at the start of the 83rd Congress, he continued his emphasis on organized crime by launching a Senate committee on crime at U.S. ports. However, he wouldn’t last long in this role, as on July 24, 1953, he suffered a fatal coronary thrombosis two days after his seventy-third birthday. Tobey’s overall MC-Index score was a 59%, reflecting a moderate conservative phase in FDR’s first term, an ultra-conservative phase in FDR’s second and first part of his third term, and his turn as a moderate liberal during the Truman years. He was not an easy figure to deal with, and I think he rather relished in his role as a dissenter, be it against the leadership of President Roosevelt or against the leadership of Senator Taft.


References


Bankson, M.Z. (1972). The Isolationism of Senator Charles W. Tobey. University of Alaska.


Retrieved from


https://scholarworks.alaska.edu/bitstream/handle/11122/8296/Bankson_M_1971.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y


National Affairs: Scourge of the Rascals. (1950, September 11). Time Magazine.


Retrieved from


https://content.time.com/time/subscriber/article/0,33009,813145,00.html


Overwork Makes the Senate Surly. U.S. Senate.


Retrieved from


https://www.senate.gov/artandhistory/history/minute/Overwork_Makes_Senate_Surly.htm


Senator Charles W. Tobey Dies at 73; Won Fame in Crime Investigation. (1953, July 25). The New York Times.

Retrieved from

Tobey, C.W. (1941, September 17). Wake Up America! The Hour is Late.


Retrieved from


https://teachingamericanhistory.org/document/wake-up-america-the-hour-is-late/

The Rise and Fall of Jack C. Walton

Taking a cursory look at the career of Jack C. Walton (1881-1949) it isn’t hard to reach the following conclusion: he bravely tried to fight the KKK in Oklahoma, a state in which its reign of terror was one of the worst and numerous politicians were members, and his fall was a result of their political influence. This only tells part of the story…the part that Walton himself would have wanted you to hear.


A civil engineer by trade, running in 1917 for the Oklahoma City Commissioner of Public Works was an ideal start for Walton. He was successful in first office, and this led to him being elected mayor of Oklahoma City in 1919.

Mayor of Oklahoma City

Walton proved a staunch progressive as Oklahoma City’s mayor. He was even thought to be unusually racially tolerant for his time and place. When the city’s meatpackers went on strike, Walton openly favored the strikers by providing them with food while refusing to extend police protection to owners and their property (Langeveld). The most significant incident of labor violence to come out of this was the shooting and hanging of a black worker who crossed the picket line, in which the union member perpetrators made it look like a Klan attack. Walton during this time would accuse the city’s chamber of commerce of “killing the city by their promotion of labor strife, and wanting to finish the job by declaring martial law” (O’Dell). This would come back to haunt him.


The 1922 Gubernatorial Election

Walton ran for governor as a progressive, opposing the death penalty, supporting aid for farmers, and backing public ownership of utilities. Oklahoma was a different state one hundred years ago than it is now as progressivism was quite popular there and the state even had one of the most successful state socialist parties in the decade prior. They were Christians who framed socialism as consistent with the ideals of the Founding Fathers and regarded capitalism as inconsistent with the teachings of Jesus Christ. Many people who had been in the Socialist Party moved into the Farmer Labor Reconstruction League, a key progressive support group for Walton’s campaign. Walton was highly supportive of this group and enthusiastically embraced their goals. Although the GOP had a temporary surge in 1920, the 1922 midterms moved the needle in the Democratic direction, with Walton winning by about ten points despite Democrats of the anti-Walton “Constitutional Democratic Club” opting to back Republican John Fields. His agenda was initially assisted by a landslide Democratic win of the state House as well, with many of its members in agreement with Walton and the agenda of the Farmer Labor Reconstruction League.


His administration started with a giant BBQ cookout, which would turn out to be the only campaign promise he would manage to keep. Despite an overwhelmingly Democratic legislature, what passed was more modest legislation than initially promised on the campaign, but this did include strengthening workers’ comp, expanding farm cooperatives, increasing funding for education, increasing welfare funding, and generally spending big. Walton was an ambitious figure who was thought to have goals beyond being Oklahoma’s governor, including running for the Senate or even the presidency. However, Walton was careening towards catastrophe.


Controversies

Starting in 1920, the Ku Klux Klan experienced tremendous growth in Oklahoma. It was one of the states in which the organization had the most influence and was also one of the most violent state Klans. Racial violence, pushed on by anxieties over shifting demographics, urbanization, and rising crime culminated in the horrific anti-black Tulsa Race Riot in 1921, which lasted two days and resulted in 39 confirmed dead (26 black, 13 white) although many more may have been killed, and the destruction of the Greenwood district, a black middle-class neighborhood. Governor Walton did not start out against the Klan, indeed he even initially joined the organization, taking the oath administered by Cyclops W.T. Tilly (O’Dell). He also appointed some of its members to state government and indeed he appointed many people to state government as a way of winning support and it would later be used against him.


Walton also attempted to appeal to both conservatives and the Farmer-Labor Reconstruction League through appointments as well as vacillating on policy. He would go on to interfere with the university board of regents, who he lacked support from, and in one instance he fired Dr. James B. Eskridge as president of Oklahoma A&M College, appointing in his place Farmer-Labor Reconstruction League head George Wilson, who was unqualified for the post and ultimately served only a few months as his appointment proved unpopular. Walton also vigorously enforced Prohibition, stepping in when local authorities were lax. Yet, his approach to criminal justice could be shockingly loose. Governor Walton was liberal in his use of executive pardons, doing so for 253 people, 29 who had been convicted of murder. Although he was accused of being bribed for pardons, this was never proven. He would also pursue the Klan for reasons both political and out of a sense of disgust for their violence.


Martial Law


Citing Klan violence, Governor Walton declared martial law in Okmulgee County on June 26, 1923. County Sheriff John Russell claimed this act was retaliation for the arrests of two men with commissions from the governor, and it ultimately lasted three days and resulted in several arrests (Langeveld). On August 14th, he placed Tulsa County under martial law, the immediate triggering incident being KKK members severely beating several Jewish men accused of selling drugs and he would follow this up with “absolute martial law”, which included a suspension of habeas corpus. Klan terror was high in Tulsa County and numerous cases were exposed, but the suspension of habeas corpus is explicitly prohibited in the Oklahoma Constitution. After The Tulsa Tribune called for Klan members to resist martial law, Governor Walton assigned a censor to the paper (O’Dell). The suspension of habeas corpus triggered a grand jury investigation into Governor Walton’s actions, and in response, he escalated.


On September 15th, Walton placed the entire state under martial law, resulting in a halting of the legal proceedings against him and placed Oklahoma City under “absolute martial law”, forbidding the state legislature from meeting with him claiming that 68 of their members were Klansmen. To add fuel to the fire, he canceled the Oklahoma State Fair. Calls for impeachment of Walton grew and grew. Despite Governor Walton’s efforts to block the legislature from acting against him, his opposition got a voter petition on the ballot permitting a special session of the legislature, which passed on October 2nd by a three to one margin.


The state legislature started Walton’s impeachment trial, with future Congressman Wesley E. Disney of Muskogee acting as prosecutor. Walton counter-offered for the legislature to specially convene to pass anti-Klan legislation, after which he would resign, but the legislature refused, holding that it would address the Klan issue after impeaching him. Although initially six charges were included related to Walton’ s anti-Klan actions, the prospect of him calling in witnesses to testify on Klan violence caused the legislature to drop them. He declined to defend himself as he considered the trial unfair, stating “I don’t wish to criticize any of these honorable members; some of them no doubt want to have a fair trial. But I have reached the conclusion that I cannot have a fair trial in this court. Knowing that, I am withdrawing from this room. I don’t care to withstand this humiliation any longer for myself, my family, or my honorable attorneys. You may proceed as you see best” (Langeveld). Walton was convicted on November 19th of eleven of twenty-two charges filed, and on some of them the vote was unanimous. These included his suspension of habeas corpus, his overuse of pardons, appointing too many people to government, and using the National Guard to prevent the meeting of a grand jury (Langeveld). Despite Representative Wesley Disney’s call for a strong anti-mask law to combat the Klan, the legislature passed a somewhat watered-down version, as indeed some of their members, such as future Louisiana Congressman George S. Long (Huey’s brother), were in the Klan.


1924: An Attempted Comeback


The Democratic primary for the Senate race in Oklahoma in 1924 was a crowded one to succeed retiring Robert L. Owen, and despite his lack of popularity Walton had enough of a coalition to pull off a win as he was the only figure in the Democratic field to denounce the Klan. That year he went up against Republican William B. Pine, who by default got not only Klan support but backing from many who had regarded Walton as a tyrant during his tenure. Walton did not help himself when he suggested that 95% of protestant ministers in Oklahoma were Klansmen and “lower than skunks” (Langeveld). The issue of his pardons came up again that year, with Vice Presidential candidate Charles G. Dawes suggesting that such actions inspired people to resort to joining the Klan. He stated, “If there could be an excuse for law-abiding citizens to band themselves together in secret organizations for law enforcement, it existed in Oklahoma and the Klan became a powerful organization” (Langeveld). Walton’s loss to Pine was not attributable to the Klan, but the degree of loss certainly was helped by them, as he lost by 26 points while Democrat John W. Davis won the state in the presidential election, other Democrats won statewide elections in Oklahoma, and Republicans gained only one House seat (Tulsa) from Oklahoma that year.


Walton attempted more comebacks but didn’t succeed until he won a seat on the Oklahoma Corporation Commission in 1932, where he served until 1939. He once again ran for the gubernatorial nomination in 1934, but lost to Congressman Ernest W. Marland and tried one more time in 1938. Walton died in Oklahoma City three weeks after suffering a stroke on November 25, 1949.

References


Bissett, J. Socialist Party. The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture.


Retrieved from


https://www.okhistory.org/publications/enc/entry.php?entry=SO001


Langeveld, D. (2016, January 3). Jack C. Walton: general incompetence versus Invisible Empire. The Downfall Dictionary.


Retrieved from


http://downfalldictionary.blogspot.com/2016/01/jack-c-walton-general-incompetence.html


O’Dell, L. Walton, John Calloway (1881-1949). The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History.


Retrieved from


https://www.okhistory.org/publications/enc/entry.php?entry=WA014

Carl Albert – “Little Giant from Little Dixie”

1946 was a year of Republican comeback from over a decade of Democratic dominance. This was not so in the portion of Oklahoma known as “Little Dixie”, an area of Oklahoma that is culturally and politically in tune with the South. The election of 38-year-old Carl Bert Albert (1908-2000) turned politics the other way. His predecessor, Paul Stewart, was a conservative Democrat who would have been more sympathetic to the 80th Congress had he not had to retire due to poor health. Albert’s first election bid is his most difficult one as some Oklahoma Democrats were suspicious of him for being a graduate of Oxford, but he was able to capitalize enough on his humble roots along with the slogan, “From a Cabin in the Cotton to Congress” (Sloan). Indeed, winning election seemed destiny for him; as a six-year-old boy in Bugtussle, Congressman Charles D. Carter visited his elementary school and told the class that any of the children could grow up and become the district’s representative. Albert stated that ever since, “…everything I did was calculated to being elected to Congress” (The Norman Transcript).


The Early Years


Albert is for the most part loyal to Truman, but he votes to override his veto of the Taft-Hartley Act in 1947 and supports anti-subversive legislation. He proves largely progressive on economic issues and is against civil rights. In 1947, Albert voted against banning the poll tax and indeed his first vote favorable to civil rights would not occur until the Eisenhower Administration. Albert has some notable achievements in his first eight years that catch the eye of Speaker Rayburn. Albert’s career is helped by a few factors. For one, his district is next to that of Texas’ Sam Rayburn, Speaker of the House. Thus, the interests of their districts are similar, and they befriend each other and have regular discussions in Rayburn’s office. For another, Albert is a studious legislator who wins several projects for his district and for “Mr. Sam” this mattered a great deal. Rayburn sees a lot of potential in the young Albert and in 1955 he gets him elected majority whip, the number three position in the House.


Moving On Up


At 5’4” he becomes known as the “Little Giant from Little Dixie”. In 1957, Albert casts his first vote for civil rights, on the watered-down Senate version of the Civil Rights Act of 1957. He had opposed stronger legislation in the House that year and in 1956. At the end of the 85th Congress he is still the least friendly Oklahoman to civil rights, however, being the only one to oppose funding the Civil Rights Commission in 1958. Although Albert votes for the Civil Rights Act of 1960, he opposes the McCulloch-Celler Amendment strengthening the bill. As a whip, he has a special skill for taking the pulse of the House. As Time Magazine (1962) noted, “Last year, when the White House developed a bad case of jitters over the chances of the depressed areas bill, and began to talk of compromises, Albert surveyed the situation and reported that the bill could be passed without major changes. It was. But when Albert told Agriculture Secretary Orville Freeman that the Administration’s farm program would have to be rewritten to get through the House, Freeman ignored the advice and suffered a humiliating House defeat” (2).
After Rayburn’s death in 1961 and McCormack’s ascendency to House speaker, Albert moves up to majority leader, a post in which he continued to push JFK’s New Frontier legislation. In 1964, he casts a vote that proves that although he is from “Little Dixie” and was raised like someone from there born in 1908 would be, he is not bound by his background: he votes for the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Of the six representatives from Oklahoma, three voted against the bill. Albert’s record from then on would be solidly favorable to civil rights legislation. He supports Great Society legislation, including a repeal of the “right-to-work” section of the Taft-Hartley Act. Although Albert is fundamentally a liberal, Albert views himself as a constructive legislator more than anything else, stating that he “very much disliked doctrinaire liberals – they want to own your minds. And I don’t like reactionary conservatives. I like to face issues in terms of conditions and not in terms of someone’s inborn political philosophy” (The Norman Transcript). Albert has a setback when he suffers a heart attack in 1966, which during the busy Great Society Congress sets him back four months. In 1968, he chairs the tumultuous Democratic National Convention in Chicago. Two years later, Speaker John McCormack, now 79 years old, opts for retirement, and Albert succeeds him.


As Speaker, Carl Albert would support Nixon on the Vietnam War, but would oppose efforts to curb busing, oppose a school prayer amendment, and support expansions of government in education and welfare. Albert’s leadership style was not ruthless; he ruled through persuasion. As he said on his style, “If you whip them into line every time, by the session’s third vote you’re through. If you can’t win them by persuasion you can’t win them at all” (Time Magazine, 2). Albert would preside over a troubled relationship between the legislature and the executive, with the House battling President Nixon over impoundments and Albert referring the investigation into Watergate to the Judiciary Committee. Twice he would be next in line for the presidency; from when Spiro Agnew resigned in 1973 on corruption charges to Gerald Ford’s confirmation by Congress as vice president, and in 1974 from when Richard Nixon resigned to when Nelson Rockefeller was confirmed by Congress as vice president. As Albert would note in his 1990 memoir, “You can’t get around the fact that I was there one breath away from the White House” (Cathey). However, Albert absolutely didn’t want to be president and fretted over the possibility.


Troubles


Carl Albert was not without some personal troubles in his time as speaker. The first of these was in September 1972, when he crashed into two cars. Although the damage was minor, Albert was reported to have been drinking that night, and according to witnesses when approached by officers he pushed at them and yelled, “Leave me alone, I’m Carl Albert, speaker of the House … you can’t touch me … I just got you your raises” (Ghosts of DC). President Nixon had recently signed legislation increasing pay for D.C. police officers and firemen. Albert negotiated a payment for the owner of one of the cars, and the other drove off after finding little damage. Drunk driving was not regarded as serious of a subject fifty years ago. He would also be tied to the Koreagate Scandal, but he was cleared of taking bribes from Korean businessman Tongsun Park (Lerner). Albert ultimately decided not to run for reelection in 1976. He stated in retrospect, “I was tired when I left. I wanted to go home” (U.S. House).


In Retirement and Conclusion


Albert continues to make speeches around the country after retiring but has to pull back after suffering another heart attack in 1981. He has a successful triple-bypass surgery in 1985, which extends his life considerably; Albert was able to participate in the 1988 Democratic National Convention, delivering a speech. In 1990, he published his memoir, Little Giant, which he wrote with the assistance of Professor Danney Goble (The Norman Transcript). Democrats running in the state actively courted his support, and he remained interested in politics right up until his death on February 4, 2000, aged 91.


Albert was in a sense politically much like LBJ: both did not cast a vote for civil rights legislation until 1957, both were strong civil rights supporters from 1964 on, both were strong supporter of increasing the welfare state, and both were staunch supporters of the oil industry. However, he was different in his views on power and on personality. LBJ had tremendous presidential aspirations, Albert had no such aspirations. LBJ would use every trick and tactic in the book to win a vote, while Albert had limits on what he would do. As an obituary in The Oklahoman put it, “Albert will be remembered as a speaker who refused to use the power and muscle at his command to get things done. He refused to blast obstructionists, squelch petty rivalries or chastise those who brought discredit on the House” (The Oklahoman). Albert’s aim was to win passage of legislation he believed was good for America, and he certainly did that during the Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Johnson Administrations. To this day, Albert has held the highest political office of any Oklahoman.


References


Carl Albert: Nose-Counter From Bugtussle. (1962, January 12). Time Magazine.


Retrieved from


https://content.time.com/time/subscriber/article/0,33009,828902,00.html


Cathey, M. (2019, November 23). One heartbeat away – twice – from the U.S. Presidency. McAlester News-Capital.

Retrieved from

https://www.mcalesternews.com/news/local_news/cathey-one-heartbeat-away-twice-from-the-u-s-presidency/article_6134c427-41c3-5a55-a3cd-22bbde2a24b3.html

Drunk Speaker of the House Crashes Into Two Cars. (2012, December 6). Ghosts of DC.


Retrieved from


https://ghostsofdc.org/2012/12/06/drunk-speaker-carl-albert/


Lerner, R.E. (1978, March 8). Park Never Paid O’Neill, Albert. The Telegraph.


Retrieved from


https://news.google.com/newspapers?id=y4RjAAAAIBAJ&sjid=znkNAAAAIBAJ&pg=5900,1809671&dq


‘Little Giant’ dies at age 91 Carl Albert served 30 years in House. (2000, February 6). The Oklahoman.


Retrieved from


https://www.oklahoman.com/story/news/2000/02/06/little-giant-dies-at-age-91-carl-albert-served-30-years-in-house/62211642007/


Sloan, E.M. Albert, Carl Bert. The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture.


Retrieved from


https://www.okhistory.org/publications/enc/entry.php?entry=AL003


Speaker of the House Carl Albert of Oklahoma. U.S. House of Representatives.


Retrieved from


https://history.house.gov/Historical-Highlights/1951-2000/Speaker-of-the-House-Carl-Albert-of-Oklahoma/


The ‘Man from Bugtussle’ made national impact. (2007, June 1). The Norman Transcript.


Retrieved from


https://archive.ph/20140515012618/http://www.normantranscript.com/centennialokla/x518986683/The-Man-from-Bugtussle-made-national-impact