Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Making of the President 1960 (6).

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:

JFK: “If my church attempted to influence me in a way which was improper or which affected adversely my responsibilities as a public servant, sworn to uphold the Constitution, then I would reply to them that this was an improper action on their part, that it was one to which I could not subscribe, that I was opposed to it, and that it would be an unfortunate breech—an interference with the American political system.” p. 313.

“…he had, for the first time, more fully and explicitly than any other thinker of his faith defined the personal doctrine of a modern Catholic in a democratic society.” p. 313.

“…the candidate [JFK], always happiest…when confronting crisis with action….” p. 314.

Nixon: “Should all problems be sent to Washington for solution? No. Our 180 years of history proved that this is the wrong way, just having one man solve everything.” p. 324.

“…the power of television to shape the American mind….” p. 336.

“[JFK] behaves, in any crisis, as if it consisted only of a sequence of necessary things to be done that will become complicated if emotions intrude.” p. 340.

“Preparing for the TV debates, Kennedy: When they had finished, they had prepared fifteen pages of copy boiling down into twelve or thirteen subject areas the relevant facts and possible questions they thought the correspondents on the panel, or Mr. Nixon might raise…. …necessary to fix in his mind, not the issues or understanding, but only the latest data.” p. 341.

“These three [Sorenson, Goodwin, Feldman] young men today still remain Kennedy’s ‘personal’ Brain Trust, as distinct from his ‘academic’ Brain Trust (Schlesinger, Galbraith, Bundy, Rostow), or his ‘political’ Brain Trust (O’ Donnell, O’Brien, Donahue and Dungan).” p. 341.

TV debates: “Nixon was addressing himself to

Kennedy—but Kennedy was addressing himself to the audience that was the nation.” p. 345.

“Neither man could pause to indulge in the slow reflection and rumination, the slow questioning of alternatives before decision that is the inner quality of leadership.” p. 351.

To be continued.

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