Democrat's Strauss impressed by Reagan performance, but . . .
Washington — That political sage from Texas, Robert Strauss, departed from practicing law for a short while Thursday to hold forth on his favorite subject, politics. The Strauss wisdom, heard by a group of reporters over breakfast, went in these directions:
* The former Democratic national chairman and special Carter ambassador is worried about a voting trend which, if it continues, would end up "with the Republicans being the party of the haves and the Democrats being the party of the have-nots."
"We could become a class society if this continues," says Mr. Strauss. "This could bring about disturbances in the country. This is a historical fact."
* However, Strauss thinks this trend will end and that his party will once again be able to broaden its base. "The Democratic Party really doesn't have the serious problems it had back in 1972," he said. "Then we had emotional issues. People despised, hated each other -- over the war and over social issues. But we came back from that."
* Strauss, while opposing Ronald Reagan on many issues, is very high on his presidential performance thus far. "This fellow is a one-man band," he said. "And his White House staff is simply spectacular. It's the best White house staff I have ever seen."
"Reagan," he said at one point, "has done what he said he would do and done it far better than I had conceived he would do it."
* Strauss believes, however, that the President may be politically vulnerable on his proposals to change social security. "I believe he is perceived by the American people," he said, "as having said he would leave social security intact."
"The social security flap," Strauss continued, "together with high interest rates, could be the beginning of a crack [in the President's political dominance ] -- one that could enable the Democrats in Congress to put through their own, alternative tax program."
* Basically Strauss thinks public support for the Reagan "thrust" is so strong that it is very difficult, perhaps impossible, for the Democrats to put up much of a fight against the President's programs.
Thus, he sees the Democratic role in Congress today as one of "counterpunching," particularly when the spending cuts on social programs come up, one by one.
"By the turn of the year," however, Strauss sees a change in the political climate -- if by that time inflation still is going strong and interest rates remain high.
He says that as an American and as a businessman he certainly hopes that the Reagan programs will improve the economy. But he doesn't think they will. And, beyond that, he sees a flagging economy being the main factor in bringing back the Democratic Party.
His advice to Democrats in Congress today: "Hold any Democratic alternativ e programs until the climate is right."