"You will split your own party if you insist on pursuing it. And, Mr. President, I do not think I myself will be able to support you on this ill-conceived scheme."
Said Everett Dirksen to Richard Nixon, according to "RN: The Memoirs of Richard Nixon."
"This thing" was affirmative action — the so-called "Philadelphia Plan" that "would require all contractors working on federally funded construction projects to pledge a good faith effort toward the goal of hiring a representative number of minority workers." Congressional conservatives "considered it heretical for a Republican President." Unions were also opposed: "George Meany hit the roof, charging that the administration was making the unions a whipping boy and trying to score 'brownie points' with civil rights groups."
In his memoir, Nixon expressed disappointment that he "received only lukewarm support from most of the national black leaders," who, he speculated, were "more interested in dramatic tokenism than in the hard fight for actual progress."
(Why am I posting this now? I just ran across it as I was preparing to begin teaching the affirmative action cases in Conlaw2 today. Coincidentally, the Wisconsin State Assembly Committee on Colleges and Universities is holding a hearing today on "the process for admissions at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In particular, the committee and speakers will focus on the findings contained in two studies by the Center for Equal Opportunity (CEO): 1.) Racial and Ethnic Preferences in Undergraduate Admissions at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.... 2.) Racial and Ethnic Preferences in Admissions at the University of Wisconsin Law School...")