December 13, 2004

Wayne Morse v. Clare Booth Luce

The last post got me thinking about Sen. Wayne Morse, the legendary Oregon maverick, who started out as a Republican, and I believe, pulled a Jeffords and ended up a Democrat. His feud with the brilliant and acerbic Clare Booth Luce, playwright, ideologue, and diplomat, was legendary, as this summary illustrates:
"In 1953 President Dwight D. Eisenhower appointed her ambassador to Italy; the first American woman ambassador to a major country, she held the post until resigning in 1957. Two years later Eisenhower appointed her ambassador to Brazil. The opposition to her appointment in Congress was led by Wayne Morse of Oregon. Clare commented Morse's actions were the result of him being 'kicked in the head by a horse.' This remark proved so controversial that Clare resigned the ambassadorship a few days later."

It's this sort of thing that led me, as a tad, to follow the Senate as normal boys my age followed batting averages.

What mere outfielder could hold a candle to the inimitable Everett McKinley Dirksen, the Illinois minority leader, who during the same controversy remarked (supposedly in a Yogi Berra moment, but who knows?), "Why beat an old bag of bones? Why thresh old straw?"

I suppose "you had to be there." Those were different times, when giants walked the earth. Or at least the floor of the Senate.

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