The Senate Evaluated 1986

In September 1986, MacNeil interviewed five senators who would retire following the end of the session: Charles Mathias of Maryland, Tom Eagleton of Missouri, Gary Hart of Colorado, Paul Laxalt of Nevada, and Russell Long of Louisiana.

Here are excerpts from his first report of the interviews:

Eagleton: “The Senate as an institution has worsened. We don’t know how to run our business. We are beset with incessant filibustering.”

Hart: “What I have seen is a decline in what I would call the moderate consensus and the rise of ideology and faction, and I think that also plays itself out in the fractionalization of our society and the greater emphasis on special interests and special interest money.”

Mathias: “I think one of the most important things you can do to be an effective senator is to make sure that you earn your living some other way. You have got to have the ability to deal with a certain degree of independence, and if you are dependent on the job, you will never be able to rise above the need for trim and cower.”

To read the complete account, visit: macneil_reports_senateevaluated1986.pdf.