The Perils of Moderation
T HE INTRAPARTY EXPLOSIONS that had already occurred -- the Bohlen dispute, the Yalta resolution, the foreign-aid fund struggles, the internalsecurity questions and Joe McCarthy, the handling of Rhee and ending the war and, still being argued, the Bricker amendment -- had exposed key differences. Additionally, a late Administration appeal for an increased debt ceiling, one that would raise the legal deficit limit from $275 to $290 billion, failed to survive the Senate Finance Committee, and so the Eighty-third Congress's first session ended by emphasizing that it was far more penurious than even the budget-conscious Administration. Even though Congressional Quarterly showed that the President had done far better than Truman had ever fared with Congress in getting requested legislation, with a "boxscore mark" of 72.7 percent for that session, it was obvious that Democratic support had been decisive. Moreover, the raw statistics could not show the blandness of the President's eleven-point program that had been presented to the party's leaders on February 9 in comparison with such dramatic innovations as Truman's civil-rights requests.
Losses in the 1954 Congressional elections could cripple Republican rule before the "great crusade" hardly began its salvation of the nation after twenty years of Democratic rule. Opposition jibes about the President being a stranger in his own party were embarrassingly accurate. And, in July, the loss of both Senators Tobey and Taft and the Majority Leader's subsequent replacement by the Democratic mayor of Cleveland, Thomas A. Burke, had ended the Republican one-vote margin in the upper chamber. Recognizing the political realities, three months