Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Making of the President 1960 (1)

Theodore H. White. New York: Pocket Books, Inc. 1961/1962.

Why read it? The strategies used by John Kennedy and his associates and by Richard Nixon and other candidates in the presidential election of 1960.

Sample ideas:

“For to me, the central fact of politics has always been the quality of leadership under the pressure of great forces.” Author’s Note. vii.

“When he came again to greet the press and people, he would be the next President, close to no one.” p. 5.

“The general vote is an expression of national will, the only substitute for violence and blood; its verdict is to be defended as one defends civilization itself.” p. 11.

“He [JFK] remembered … his…. tour in Pennsylvania…a family group, dressed in black clothes, on a deserted country road—the father with a clothespin on his nose and the mother, as the candidate’s eye rested on her, suddenly sticking out her tongue at him.” p. 21.

“To become known, to be identifiable to voters in terms of their gut reactions, is perhaps the most expensive and necessary condition of American presidential politics.” p. 40.

“Fundamentally, though, for all the talk of expenses, money and sources, the Humphrey campaign depended not on money, but on the ideas and emotions that Humphrey could arouse, on his ability to communicate his crusader’s enthusiasm to the people of the nation directly.” p. 42.

“…while to those who did recognize his name [Symington] he was known as a single issue man, a specialist who knew defense and nothing else, and whom in that field was tagged ‘The Big Bomber Boy’…the Washington Post viewing him generally as a monomaniac on the subject of defense and a lightweight in all else.” p. 45.

“The root of the matter is that Symington’s effectiveness shows best in inverse proportion to the size of the group in which he gathers….. In groups of four, three, and two he can be brilliantly dominant.” p. 48.

Symington…an executive to the core, a man fascinated by the direction and proper organization of other men, he is a man excited by responsibility, one who likes to make things work. “ p. 48.

“Given their choice, small politicians prefer as President a man who will bring votes to fatten their base, one whose radiant name guarantees them victory in their local contests.” p. 48.

To be continued.

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