Unlike his predecessor, Dwight Eisenhower could look forward to working with a basically sympathetic Congress. The 1952 elections had enlarged the conservative coalition by some forty new Republicans in the House and nine in the Senate. These newcomers seemed likely to appreciate their debt to Eisenhower for their election. If the new president was more internationalist in his views than a large portion of congressional Republicans, he could count on support from Democrats in the area of foreign policy. It seemed likely, also, that his prestige would intimidate and convert to his cause all but the most resistant GOP nationalists. The outlook for Ike's success with the Eighty-third Congress was, in other words, quite good—despite the looming threat posed by Joseph McCarthy.
Eisenhower's use of the phrase “middle way” in his first State of the Union message to describe his approach to domestic issues captured the imagination of the public—or at least of the press. Together with his heroic image as a man “above party,” the “middle way” imagery led many contemporaries to see “Eisen-