Jimmy Carter's rise from obscurity to the Presidency is no mystery, according to Shoup; the key, in his view, is the...


THE CARTER PRESIDENCY AND BEYOND: Power and Politics in the 1980s

Jimmy Carter's rise from obscurity to the Presidency is no mystery, according to Shoup; the key, in his view, is the relationship between Atlanta business and financial heavies and the New York-based ""eastern Establishment."" Friendships, common club memberships, and criss-crossing board-of-directorships are cited to show that Carter made contacts with the American ""ruling class"" and eventually became ""their man."" For his argument Shoup leans heavily on the major print media--in Carter's case, mainly the New York Times and Time--that gave Carter early coverage in his 1976 campaign; on the corporate sources of Carter's campaign treasury; and on the membership of several elite groupings, most notably the Trilateral Commission, the Council on Foreign Relations, and certain corporate interest groups--all of which came to be represented in the Carter Administration. Throughout, the Trilateral Commission is the big bogey, since Carter, Mondale, Vance, Brzezinski, Blumenthal, Warnke, Woodcock, and other Administration big shots belonged to it. Shoup contends that Carter's Presidency has served the interests--free trade, anti-unionism, etc.--of the most powerful sectors of American capitalism as represented by the Trilateral Commission. The problem lies in Shoup's presistent belief that the Eastern Establishment ""put"" Carter in the White House; what he has shown, rather, is how Carter accumulated the backing of politically powerful elements that all the candidates were after. This may be the pattern of presidential politics, but it is hardly as sinister as Shoup believes: any Democratic president would probably have pursued the same policies, while a Republican president might be expected to respond to pressures from more nationalist, traditional sectors of the economy. Shoup too often merely establishes some personal connection to some group--even if the friend of a friend--as evidence of direct influence. Anyone who still hasn't figured out that the rich and powerful sit on the same boards, eat at the same restaurants, and belong to the same influential organizations would benefit from Shoup's ""exposÉ."" The rest may wonder how the ruling class managed to cast all those primary votes.

Pub Date: Feb. 20, 1980


Page Count: -

Publisher: Ramparts

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1980