The Congress: Time Out for Ev

It was 3:30 a.m. when the 70-year-old patient, staying overnight in Walter Reed Hospital for a routine early-morning checkup, swung his legs from under the covers to get up. Drowsy and unaccustomed to the high hospital bed, Everett Dirksen went sprawling onto the vinyl floor of his third-floor V.I.P. suite, instantly felt a pain shoot along his hip. The diagnosis: a fracture of the right femur.

Though the Senate minority leader often jests about his ailments—complaining about what he likes to call "this old carcass"—last week's accident was no joke to official Washington. President Johnson, flying back from Texas, placed...

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