The Strauss Affair Along a dim corridor outside the U.S. Senate chamber one evening strode
a big, round-shouldered man with a conspicuous smile curling on lips
that more often turn soberly downward. New Mexico's Democratic Senator
Clinton P. Anderson was obviously happy with his thoughts. Spotting
Anderson alone in the corridor, a newsman hurried up, asked a question
heard constantly throughout Washington: “Will he make it?” Anderson
paused, drew from his inside coat pocket a well-worn tally sheet,
heavily marked with circles and underlines in blue ink. The smile
tugged harder at the corners of his mouth. “I'm not worried any more,”
said Clinton Anderson. “There will be enough votes.” Thus last week did New Mexico's Clint Anderson report on the progress of
his battle against the confirmation as U.S. Secretary of Commerce of
one of the nation's ablest and thorniest public figures: Lewis
Lichtenstein Strauss, 63, longtime member and chairman of the Atomic
Energy Commission and a man whose governmental career Anderson has
sworn to end. Despite Anderson's optimism, the outcome of that battle
was still in cliff-hanging doubt, with the decision likely to swing on
two or three Senate votes—and with the U.S. already the loser in one
of the biggest, bitterest, and in many ways most unseemly confirmation
fights in Senate history. Blood Feud. In its simplest, unhappiest terms, the fight is the result
of a blood feud between Lewis Strauss and Clint Anderson, both
eminently capable, dedicated citizens who have served the nation long
and well, but who, by the chemistry of personality and the conflict of
ideas, have come to hate each other. But the Strauss case has gone far
beyond the personal quarrel between two men; it has widened out to
involve their friends and their associates, strained old ties and old
loyalties, brought charge and countercharge, insult and counterinsult,
rumor and counterrumor. And it has become a major test of the
relationship between Republican President Dwight Eisenhower and the
Democratic 86th Congress. In meeting that test, President Eisenhower has deeply committed himself,
both personally and politically. He has broken off a longstanding
friendship with Clint Anderson, until recently a frequent fourth at
White House bridge games. The President has declared himself behind
Lewis Strauss to the end, no matter how bitter it may be. Last week, at the regular White House meeting between Ike and Republican
congressional leaders. Senate Minority Leader Everett McKinley Dirksen
mentioned the buzzing rumors—false, like so many rumors in the Strauss
affair—that the President would be happy to dodge the fight by accepting Strauss's
resignation. Replied Ike: “I wouldn't accept Lewis' resignation even if
he offered it. You can go out and say that when you leave this room.”
Dirksen did—and with the battle lines thus firmly, flatly drawn, the
confirmation of Lewis Strauss finally came to the Senate floor after
months of wrangling and wrestling.