This week, as the U.S. Capitol vibrated with the bustle of its biennial rite, the convening of a new Congress, lawmakers were engaged in two kinds of positioning. On the surface, Democrats were taking control from Republicans with hearty promises of bipartisan cooperation on foreign policy, and arranging themselves according to time-honored courtesies and the unwritten rules of seniority. Beneath the surface, the political footwork was livelier, with every step taken in anticipation of the 1956 campaign.

Texas' Sam Rayburn will relieve Massachusetts' Joe Martin of the Speakership, but not of his office suite. Mr. Sam, weary of swapping offices,...

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