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Minnesota's Senator Hubert Horatio Humphrey looked around proudly at his fellow Democrats. By a heavily partisan 49-46 vote, the Democratic-controlled U.S. Senate had just rejected the President's nomination of Lewis Lichtenstein Strauss to be Secretary of Commerce. "This," said Humphrey jauntily, "is the first time we have not blurred the image."

The Democratic image was sharp and clear. Amid the catcalls of liberals, the moderate Democratic congressional leadership had just abandoned its own legislative program to follow Dwight Eisenhower's lead in legislation, because of the popularity of the President's budget-balancing program (see Democrats). Then, in a vote that wrapped up liberals and moderates, Southerners and Northerners —along with a strange bundle of personal animosity, private feuding and partisan frustration—Senate Democrats (aided by two Republicans) delivered the same President a stinging personal slap by turning down Strauss.

The President lost, but there was reason to doubt that the Democrats had really won. Included in the sharp partisan image that pleased Hubert Humphrey were all the leading Senate hopefuls for the 1960 presidential nomination: Massachusetts' Jack Kennedy, Missouri's Stuart Symington, Humphrey himself, and Texas' Lyndon Johnson. The chances were good that before the 1960 campaign was over, each of them would expend considerable effort trying to blur the image of the anti-Strauss, anti-Eisenhower vote.