The Kennedy and Johnson administrations knew they would need a large contingent of Republicans to get the civil rights bill past the segregationist Southern Democrats who held the commanding heights on Capitol Hill. And so they sent an emissary to McCulloch, who was the senior Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, and enlisted him as a partner. He agreed to an active collaboration with the Democratic White House, an alliance hard to imagine today and even then viewed by some in his party as bordering on treason. He had two conditions. First, if McCulloch helped get a strong bill through the House, he insisted the president would not allow it to be weakened in the Senate, where the oligarchy of Southern Democrats had successfully filibustered past civil rights measures until they were rendered toothless. Second, McCulloch wanted assurances that Republicans would share the credit for passage.
Perhaps Mr. Keller will stay out of trouble with this one.