Senator Hays Stowe questions the mental abilities of powerful committee chairman Homer Wydell and his ability to conduct good public policy. His wife Jean and Majority Leader Thad Brown prefer to ignore his decline for reasons of their own.
Political powerbroker George P. Mallon tests the integrity Senator Hays Stowe to support Louis Masterson. This causes Stowe to second guess how his Father played the political game when he was a Senator.
Sen. Stowe chairs a commission that is investigating the shooting deaths of two college students by National Guard troops during an anti-war protest at a university. His task is complicated by the fact that the students, the administrators and the National Guardsmen all give different versions of what happened.
Senator Stowe has a bill that would increase welfare to the black community, but there is a worry that the funds will be controlled by black radical Isaac Johnson. At the same time government bureaucrat Frank Dixon develops a computer program to track the money.