Sunday, July 28, 2002

No Nostalgia For Me, Thank You

Our intrepid neo-socialist, Bartholomew Sullivan, has a review of the third volume of Robert Cato's exhaustive study of Lyndon Johnson, Master of the Senate. But it's not the review itself that interests, rather it's what is said--and not said--in passing that caught my eye.

Sullivan bemoans Johnson's ability to pass a civil rights bill (the 1957 Civil Right Act) that did little, but allowed Johnson to claim action. He seems to have expected Johnson to be someone he's not, and never was. Typical of socialists....

What caught my eye was the citing of various political figures, their offices and states, but without managing to mention their political affiliations. The bad guys in this review, Senators Johnson, James Eastland, and Richard B. Russell are all Democrats. The lone good guy, President Eisenhower, was a Republican. It's possible that Sullivan didn't want to get into explaining the different political landscape of the era, in what is already a long review; it's also possible he didn't want to admit the uncomfortable and so elided history for his own benefit.

He also has this to say about "a former firebrand labor newsletter columnist," Leland Olds, who was an ardent New Dealer as during the Roosevelt years. His nomination was torpedoed viciously by Johnson whose
behind-the-scenes smear campaign comes out of nowhere to tar Olds
after law firms in Texas dredge up his radical editorials denouncing
capitalism in the 1920s and ’30s. Olds hardly has the chance to make
the case that his views have evolved...

Olds was in fact a long-term and respected Federal Power Commissioner, involved in the Tennessee Valley Authority. But it's clear that Sullivan admires his earlier, socialist, anti-capitalist stances.

Finally, Sullivan writes:
Another [thing missing today] is the sense of public purpose espoused by
individual senators, the kind of deep sentiment for good public policy
now largely lost in spin.

Nostalgia for the days when government knew best and wasn't afraid to interfere wherever necessary, no doubt.

One suspects that Sullivan would love to see today a Lyndon Johnson-style Master of the Senate, with the "firebrand" Socialism of the pre-WWII era. No thank you, Bartholomew.

Until next time,
Your Working Boy

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