Another Beginning

The New Republic, 7 December 1963, page 3

    It comes over us now how seldom, these past three years, we admitted to ourselves how heavily our hopes were riding on one man. This journal was a devoted critic of John F. Kennedy. It spoke for his nomination as the Democratic candidate in 1960, admired his restraint, respected his intellect, regretted the evasions and hesitations that political realities seemed to command, and hoped for his reelection and a new Congress more hospitable to his program.
Lyndon B. Johnson is the inheritor of the youthful promise John Kennedy brought to people throughout the world. He is Texas, but the Texas of Sam Rayburn, not H. L. Hunt. He carries to the White House the impulses of his youth, which was lived in the years of the New Deal. His sympathies as well as his friendships were formed in that time when millions of Americans were poor and scared and demanding that the federal government take a real interest in them. A year before the 1960 primaries, John Kennedy told an interviewer he thought he was as qualified to be President as any other candidate—“except possibly Lyndon.” That was Kennedy’s respect for expertise.
The new President is described as pragmatic, as “operational from head to toe.” He is a practiced negotiator of bargains, a politician who takes pride in fine calculations of the feasible. He cannot be stampeded. During that awful day, twenty-four hours after the assassination, when, in the corridors of the White House, all was confusion, Mr. Johnson confidently met one problem, one person after another; he was at ease; he seemed, one of those present said, “a man the Presidential chair fits.”
To his gifts as a legislative tactician, there must now be added the intangible gift without which no President can succeed, the gift of discerning not only what seems possible, but also that which sober judgment deems imperative; and the talent too of persuasiveness, so that good intentions and ambitions can be, as the President told Congress, “translated into effective action.”
There are demanding months ahead; one hopes they will be productive months. The President needs votes, not just sympathy, in Congress; and when partisanship and sectionalism have had a chance to draw breath, votes cast against Kennedy will be cast against him.
Still, this is a new beginning, and we look to the future—with only one final backward glance. The few on whom the burden of tragedy was heaviest never for one moment faltered. Nothing became the Kennedy Administration more than the dignity of its last weekend.

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