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Power in Washington. A critical look at today’s struggle to Govern in the Nation’s Capital



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DSC01919Douglass Cater. Vintage Books, New York 1965. Tapa Blanda, 275 Págs. Estado: Bueno.

By the time he went to the White House in 1964 at age 40, Mr. Cater was already an old Washington hand. An original editor of The Reporter magazine, he had spent 14 years covering Washington and national affairs, with occasional time off to write books or serve as a Government consultant.

Indeed, he began his stint as a special assistant to President Johnson two months after the publication of his third book, “Power in Washington.”

It was a measure of Mr. Cater’s evenhandedness that five years before his journalist’s examination of Government power, he had given his own profession the same treatment in “The Fourth Branch of Government.”

Mr. Cater, who had written admiringly of Johnson’s use of power as Senate majority leader, had been asked to join his Vice Presidential staff in 1963, but had demurred.

At the time, Mr. Cater was on a leave from his magazine working as associate director of the Center of Advanced Studies at Wesleyan University in Connecticut and wanted to finish his book.

The second call — this time from the White House — “got his attention,” Mrs. Cater recalled yesterday.

Mr. Cater, who was given a vague mandate to “think ahead” and had been told by other Presidential assistants that they “made it up” as they went along, took a while to find his niche.

The breakthrough, his wife said, came when he noticed that Johnson’s face lit up whenever he read a memorandum on education. Taking the Presidential visage as his guide, Mr. Cater became the resident education specialist, with far-reaching results, among them the first legislation establishing Federal aid to education as a national norm.

“It was one of his proudest achievements,” his wife said, recalling that another was the spadework her husband did in creating the Public Broadcasting System.

Mr. Cater, who left the White House in 1968 to join Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey’s Presidential campaign staff, later worked as an executive of The Observer and joined the Aspen Institute, which became his base as a freelance writer and political gadfly before taking the Washington College post in 1982.


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