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The “down” Years 1972-74
A Senator’s View
August 1976 | Volume 27, Issue 5
On the whole, this Congress has declined to override President Nixon’s vetoes, until, on Wednesday, we had to consider his veto of what is known as the War Powers resolution. I supported the resolution as it progressed through both houses of Congress … but to tell the truth I felt very much like a hypocrite in doing so. One might say that I voted to override the veto for political reasons; and in a sense this is true, since my voting for it makes it quite likely that a few of my colleagues will vote with me on other, really worthwhile, measures.
At a quarter to two on Friday I got a call from the White House asking me to come down and meet with the President at two o’clock. … [He] came into the Cabinet Room and sat down with some of his own staff and six other Republicans from the Hill. … For two hours we all sat there talking and listening, except for a period of fifteen minutes. …
I think the President gave us a clean story on his part in the Watergate affair. …
… It becomes more apparent every day that the President has been horribly inept politically and that his bitter and ambitious opposition has taken an unscrupulous advantage of the fact.
Wednesday evening President Nixon gave his annual address to the joint session of Congress. Although I was supposed to be one of his escorts to the rostrum of the House, discretion proved the better part of valor, and I stayed in bed with a cold and listened to him on television, leaving the honor to Senator Young of North Dakota. …
The erratic methods of selling gasoline to automobile owners has made most everybody fit to be tied. Monkey business seems to be the order of the day, with everyone from the biggest wholesaler to the little retailer trying to get all the profit he tan while the getting is good, and every country that has a surplus of oil trying to gouge the consuming countries to the utmost.
Congress finally got a bill reported by the conferees of both houses which would give the President greater authority in controlling and regulating the supply and distribution of oil products. The agreement reached by the conferees calls for a cutback in the price of oil produced in the United States. Senators from the oil states heartily oppose this provision and indicated that if necessary they would filibuster on the legislation to block it. …
Members of the Congress … started out to make the most of [a] ten-day vacation, basking in the sun of warmer climates or going home to campaign for re-election. I advised the Senate that taking a ten-day vacation and making no serious legislative effort to cope with the energy situation would not set well with at least 205 million inhabitants of the U.S.A.
Just what we need a ten-day vacation for now is unclear to me, since we reconvened only on January 21 and haven’t done work enough yet to warrant any vacation at all.
On Thursday morning I gave out the only news that had come out of Washington for a long time without being leaked. I announced that I would not be a candidate for reelection next fall. …
A record number of experienced legislators are voluntarily leaving the Congress after this year, and a record number of unqualified members of the Senate seem to have the idea that each of them would make the best President that the United States ever had. Their desire is one of the reasons why [a] poll shows that only 21 per cent of the people think Congress is doing its work properly. Too many candidates for promotion simply constitute a costly nuisance and impede the work of those who want to serve their state and country well.
A committee of the House of Representatives is preparing a report on the advisability of impeaching President Nixon. Their chief of staff seems to feel that if a President becomes so unpopular that the public wants him ousted, he could be impeached without having committed a crime or having violated his oath of office. If the House does vote to impeach President Nixon, the vote will be almost fully drawn along party lines. If such proves to be the case, it could be a severe blow to the structure of our government itself, in that a President elected by the overwhelming vote of the people could be removed from office, or at least brought to trial, by the party which lost the Presidential election but which controls the Congress.
The situation doesn’t look very good, but I have to say that the President and his White House associates have not contributed very much to restoring a lot of lost confidence on the part of the people. “What is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” Perhaps the President feels that if a general era of peace in the world can be restored this year, he can recover the good will of many people disillusioned over the last two years of his second term of office. I hope this turns out to be the case, but I am very doubtful.