DECEMBER 27, 1958
HYDE PARK—A woman, in a letter to me, says she is troubled by something which I think has at times troubled many other people.
She refers to the apparent necessity, in the field of foreign affairs, for a minority party to accept whatever policy is formulated by the majority party simply because an emergency exists or because the minority party does not bear the responsibility for formulating a policy of its own.
On minor foreign affairs questions, this woman says, debates do arise in Congress, but too few people follow the debates to get much real information on the issues. And these debates, she feels, never are clear-cut enough to provide real leadership for those who are not in sympathy with the Administration's actions.
As an example, she cites the fact that Representative Henry S. Reuss of Wisconsin had questioned the policy of sending U.S. Marines into Lebanon without asking Congress, and that Speaker Sam Rayburn replied, "In times like these we had better allow matters to develop rather than make remarks about them."
She notes that no debate followed Speaker Rayburn's comment, and this, she feels, is "an unhealthy situation."
I can only say that while others feel the same way, if you are going to criticize the Administration, you must have new suggestions to make. This means, for members of Congress, that they must get full information from the State Department on any given situation. This is very difficult to do.
As the situation exists, we must depend in great part on what information the Administration is willing to give out on international affairs. How this situation could be remedied, with a real [unclear term marked] committee set up to work with the executive department and provide full information to Congress, is the big question.
If it could be done, then members of Congress could differ with [unclear term marked] in the knowledge that they had all the facts, or they could accept the Administration's policy with the feeling that they knew exactly what they were accepting.
As far as I know, there never has been an Administration which has had a satisfactory bipartisan policy of any kind. Perhaps it is time for the people to get busy and work out one in the field of foreign affairs.
I want to take this opportunity to thank the many people who sent me Christmas cards—the people whom I have not had the pleasure or opportunity to thank personally.
Sometimes my mail becomes a little overwhelming to both of my secretaries and myself, but I would like to say that I am deeply appreciative of the kind thoughts which prompted people to send me a word of remembrance at this season. For all, may this holiday season be a merry one and the new year better than the last.