Congressional Viewpoint

January 12, 1961

By John Marshall Butler

U.S. Senator, Maryland

“The New Skipper”

Washington, January 12, 1961 – In eight more days John Fitzgerald Kennedy, formerly the skipper of a IT boat, assumes command of the most important ship of state in the world – the United States of America. To the impatience of some, including Premier Rhuishehev, who is hoping that a new administration will mean a “new” (that is, softer) American foreign policy, and to the satisfaction of others, he has been proceeding at half-speed toward Inauguration Day.

He has good reason to do so. First, and most importantly, he is not yet the President and will not be until he is sworn in by Chief Justice Warren on the Capital steps. Secondly, the Kennedy-Johnson ticket won by the slimmest of margins over the Nixon-Lodge ticket, and not with standing all the palaver about “mandates”, President-elect Kennedy cannot ignore the 31 million Americans who voted against him and his party’s platform adopted in Los Angeles, last July.

Thirdly, despite the frequent references in the press and elsewhere to the cool and calculating qualities of the President-elect, he must necessarily be subject to the inevitable doubts and uncertainties which befall a new President. It is one thing to talk about being President and quite another to be President.

Every one of us hopes that Mr. Kennedy will be a good chief of executive. The times are such that no one should indulge in partisan obstruction tactics with an eye cocked on 1961. The problems of the Congo, Cuba, Luos, Berlin, Algeria, Quemjy and Matsu abroad and those of inflation, unemployment and taxes at home demand the closest possible cooperation between Republicans and Democrats.

And yet constructive opposition there will and must be to Mr. Kennedy and his New Frontier.

In England there is always Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition. In the United States, there is always the party out of power which has an obligation to itself and its supporters to fight for what it believes to be right and against what it believes to be wrong. The President-elect naturally understands this principle for he was a member of a party out of power for eight years.

In the months and years ahead, the Republican party will take each bill and each proposal of the Kennedy Administration as it comes, and the “new skipper” may depend upon smooth sailing so long as he follows a course which is best not for himself nor his party but for the country.

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