THE PRESIDENCY: No Cheers, No Jeers

A President about to address a new Congress has a threefold problem: he must be firm but not insulting, must recommend without demanding, must be conciliatory but not abject—in short, he must present the best illustration possible of how the executive and legislative departments should work together in a democracy. When the President is of one party and the Congress of another, the problem is intensified.

As he prepared his State of the Union message, Harry Truman was well aware of this problem. For more than a month he had shunted aside most...

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