"So I am trying to say: let's try to be reasonable," replied Dwight Eisenhower when a reporter asked about antirecession spending. "Let's try to use some common sense and not just get a Sputnik attitude about everything." All last week the President kept a tight grip on the rule of reasonableness, surprised staff and Congress alike by using it to administer a sharp rap across the knuckles here, a threat there, to keep politically fired recession fears from getting out of bounds.

First off, he decided that the $1.7 billion pork-barrel rivers and...

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