The Atlantic Report on the World Today: Washington

on the World Today

AT NO time since 1912 has the Republican Party faced a greater crisis than in 1964. When Republicans meet in San Francisco July 13, the major question before them will be the future of their party. In some ways the divisions are greater than they were at Chicago fifty-two years ago, when the delegates were divided between William Howard Taft, Theodore Roosevelt, and Robert M. La Follette. Temperamentally, Taft and Roosevelt were miles apart, but ideologically, they were closer than Goldwater and Rockefeller are today.

For at least two decades many Republicans have believed that if only their convention would nominate an unmistakable conservative, he would easily win the election. That view is widely held today. It was especially strong after President Truman defeated Governor Dewey in the upset election of 1948. It was a major cry of the Robert Taft supporters in 1952. Yet after General Eisenhower won the nomination, he swept the country, winning easily in 1952 and again in 1956.

This year Republican voters have been given a clear choice in several party primaries. Yet the rank and file has not overwhelmingly endorsed the most conservative candidate. In New Hampshire, the Goldwater supporters tried to explain away their sharp defeat by saying that Ambassador Lodge was almost a native son.

Even in Illinois, which is the heart of Goldwater territory, the Senator won an unimpressive victory. His only opponent, Senator Margaret Chase Smith, who has not done well in other primaries, showed surprising strength by winning 209,521 votes. More significant, a large number of Republicans who voted in the primary declined to mark a presidential preference, Mrs. Smith and Goldwater being the only choices. Official figures showed that Goldwater received 512,840 votes, just under 47 percent of the Republican votes cast in the primary. In other words, 53 percent of the Republicans who went to the polls in Illinois declined to endorse Goldwater.

Charles H. Percy, a candidate for governor of Illinois, won 626,111 votes (113,271 more than Goldwater polled), to capture the GOP gubernatorial nomination. And Percy had been denounced as a “liberal” and an “internationalist.” In Ohio, Representative Robert Taft, Jr., who, like Percy, was denounced as a liberal by his Goldwater-type opponent, carried all of the state’s eighty-eight counties to win the Republican senatorial nomination.

Pennsylvania’s primary was a write-in vote entirely. Goldwater did not campaign there, and it was to be expected that Governor Scranton would win. But not only did Scranton win a clear majority; Lodge was second, far ahead of Goldwater. In the Oregon primary, Rockefeller was first, Lodge was second, and Goldwater was third. Rockefeller and Lodge combined polled well over 50 percent of the vote; Goldwater won less than 20 percent.

Voters versus delegates

Even these few random samplings seem to say that a very large number of Republicans—a clear majority in New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, and Oregon — prefer a moderate or middle-of-theroad presidential candidate.

Yet polls of party chairmen and grass-roots workers indicate that Goldwater is the favorite with the organization, especially in the South and West. He will go to San Francisco with the largest number of pledged delegates. If he does not win the nomination, he will be in the strongest position to dictate the name of the nominee.

Goldwater’s strength among the delegates is explained to a certain extent by the fact that the opposition to him is divided, partly by his strength in the South, and partly by the fact that devoted amateurs have taken over the party machinery in many Midwestern and Western states. These amateurs are doctrinaires who are willing to pull the party down with them to prove that only a wholehearted conservative can win.

For Americans of both parties who strongly believe in a two-party system, and for those who are convinced that President Johnson is the kind of man who needs a strong opposition, the deep split in the GOP is disturbing and dismaying. Is there such a gulf between the Eastern urban centers of Republican strength and the Western and Southern groups that there is no longer a common ground? Do the Goldwater enthusiasts completely reject the middle position which Eisenhower chose for himself for eight years?

President Johnson, in his untiring attempt to eliminate all opposition, has broadened the center position to include a wide swath on both sides. He has left little room for anyone else to maneuver, and surely, as the Republican primaries have indicated, no one who occupies only an extreme position can successfully challenge him. In 1960, despite his earlier conservatism, Vice President Nixon knew that he could win only if he preempted the middle, and he almost succeeded, Today, in his ambition to win the nomination again, Nixon is courting the Goldwater right.

There are many in the party who believe that only a new face can begin the task of remaking the party and forging it into a constructive force that can win the confidence of the electorate. Governor Scranton may have that ability. If Representative Robert Taft, Jr., wins the Senate race in Ohio, as he is expected to do in November, he may be a leading force in the party by 1968.

The Republicans and NATO

Excellent examples of the kind of criticism an opposition party should offer have come this year in the papers of the Republican Citizens Committee’s Critical Issues Council. This group, whose chairman is Dr. Milton S. Eisenhower, does not speak for the whole party, although its membership includes vigorous conservatives. It speaks mainly for what is sometimes derisively called the Eastern international wing of the party. It has published particularly significant papers on United States relations with Panama, reflecting Dr. Eisenhower’s own special knowledge, and with NATO.

The NATO paper, which came at a time of rising anxiety over the future of the alliance, emphasized the necessity of keeping NATO strong and alert as the “cornerstone of Western defense.” While the paper was critical of the Johnson Administration for what it called a “fitful and inconsistent" policy toward Europe, it emphasized its larger concern over De Gaulle’s attitude.

The council urged the Administration to cease pressuring its European allies “toward any particular brand of unity and concentrate rather on exploring with them the fields, forms and degrees of unity with us that would be mutually advantageous.” The council emphasized that this country’s “prime goal” should be to capitalize on and stimulate “every shared interest that unites the free nations of the West and moves them toward one Atlantic Community.”

Marking time in Europe

The Johnson Administration agrees with that admonition. But the question is how. This year the President has not focused his attention on Europe because his mind has been occupied with Latin America and Southeast Asia and with the major domestic issues of an election year. Some State Department officials are pleased that the combination of circumstances has permitted a lull in negotiations with Europe. They believe that forward movement could not be expected this year.

Not only is General de Gaulle standing in the way, but there are other events whose outcome is uncertain. The American and British elections must be decided; Italy’s new and more broadly based government must survive its first tests at home; and Chancellor Erhard needs time to determine how much freedom of action is allowed him. Circumstances, which combined to counsel a postponement of decision-making this year, may combine to require decisions and actions next year to strengthen the alliance.

The President has said, “Europe seeks a new role for strength rather than contenting itself with protection for weakness. . . . The realities of the modern world teach that increased greatness and prosperity demand increased unity and partnership. . . . We realize that sharing the burden of leadership requires us to share the responsibilities of power.” These generalities may be the first step toward a policy. We have been slow to realize that a strong Europe properly expects to share in the exercise of power, and that an alliance can be maintained only on the basis of common understanding and common interests. This means, as Secretary Rusk has said, that absolute sovereignty in the nuclear age is an outmoded concept. The problem is to reach a new basis of understanding and cooperation which maintains the strength of the alliance and also prevents the proliferation of nuclear weapons. Since the task involves the reconciliation of divergent positions in the common interest, it seems to be a task uniquely designed for the President’s talents.

Good men in government

President Johnson often has said that one of the greatest contributions President Kennedy made to the art of government was the brilliance he showed in picking able advisers. The new President is in a position to know what he is talking about, for the success of his first year has been in large part in the hands of the Kennedy men. All of the Kennedy Cabinet has been retained. More of the Kennedy White House staff has been kept on than was at first expected.

In recent weeks, however, the President has had increasing difficulty persuading officials of subCabinet rank to remain in the government. The majority of those who want to leave now or within the next few months are moved by family and financial considerations. The work load of top officials has always been heavy, and salaries have never compared favorably with those paid by private industry. Roswell L. Gilpatric’s departure as Deputy Secretary of Defense and Henry H. Fowler’s departure as Undersecretary of the Treasury were planned before President Kennedy’s death. Both are highly skilled lawyers who made considerable sacrifices to work for the government for three years. They are the kind of men who are necessary to the success of any Administration.

In a move to make it easier to persuade able men to serve the government, the President, despite his emphasis on economy, has fought hard for a more liberal federal-pay bill. He has already learned that a vast amount of a President’s time is spent looking for competent people and persuading them to serve their government.

Walter W. Heller, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, is an official whom the President values highly and wishes to keep at his elbow. It was Heller who sold President Kennedy on the need for a tax reduction bill and who helped draft the poverty program which President Johnson has made into a key part of his legislative effort. As an official who is required to work closely with several federal departments and with key Cabinet members, Heller has had an enviable record in promoting cooperation throughout the field of economic policy making.

Heller has appealed to President Johnson as a thoroughly articulate and useful adviser, and the President spent considerable time trying to persuade Heller to stay in his job. But financial pressures were such that the President at last reluctantly agreed to Heller’s decision to leave the government late this year.

Mood of the Capital

Administration officials welcomed the advent of summer with trepidation. They knew that there would be an outburst of partisanship and that civil rights demonstrations would in all likelihood increase in number and tempo. They hoped that ugly civil rights clashes could be avoided and that partisanship on civil rights could be held to a minimum. But there were many who were pessimistic on both points.

Even granted passage of the civil rights bill, however, Washington recognized long before the measure began its tortuous trail through Congress that the legislation alone was not a panacea and that it could never satisfy all the hopes and expectations of the Negro, but would engender new bitterness. To meet this problem, a planning group was established weeks ago under White House direction to prepare to explain the measure to the public and to win public support of its provisions. But the task, in a campaign atmosphere, will tax the ability of the most stouthearted officials.