New America: Politics and Society in the Age of the Smooth Deal

New America: Politics and Society in the Age of the Smooth Deal

New America: Politics and Society in the Age of the Smooth Deal

New America: Politics and Society in the Age of the Smooth Deal

Excerpt

INAUGURAL EVE, 1961. On the last day of the Eisenhower Administration, there was a mood of zestful impatience in Washington. An old and tired man was about to be supplanted by the youngest President ever elected--and even among Republicans it was felt that the talisman of youth was needed. The Capital had wearied of Eisenhower the Just, his stumbling speeches, his retinue of cronies, his grin. In the last days, it was as if his Administration had ceased to exist; the wits in the salons had stopped joking about the General. The incoming President, and his flamboyant family, was fresher material.

The snow came, covering the city in a spotless mantle. The symbolism was not lost--this was the New Frontier, the rebirth that everyone wanted. Yet there was little sentimentality in the air; Washington's favorite adjective--so the New Republic informs us--is "tough." Politics is an uncharitable calling, and Washington is the least charitable of cities. The word "dead" describes an outcast politician, and the terrible finality of the term was now applied to Mr. Eisenhower.

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