KENNEDY OR NIXON by Arthur M. Schlesinger


Does It Make Any Difference?
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For those (and among them presumably the great number of undecided voters) who view both presidential candidates as "packaged products", "processed politicians", "machine twins", the Harvard historian and distinguished biographer (and of course liberal democrat) has written this short monograph- differentiating between the men, their politices and their parties. Schlesinger is most interesting about Nixon- certainly in isolating the ambiguity of the man (it is perhaps just this ambiguity which has made it difficult for his opponents to define or substantiate their dislike of Nixon) and in showing that he is the personification or product of Riesman's other- directed man; an image, rather than identity, without any political philosophy, any sense of history, any "steady deposit of conviction". (Thus he was able to be pro-McCarthy- and later anti-McCarthy.) Kennedy is viewed here as a man greatly concerned with issues and ideas, a liberal with a "coherent political philosophy", highly aware of the need for change and action (as against the Republican-Eisenhower-Nixon insistence that all is going along very nicely), and forecasting at a much earlier time what would- and did- happen in Cuba, Africa and Russia. In appraising party policies, this argues against status quo- or static-attitudes; against a single interest (business or any other single interest) party; and against the demonstrable failures of our foreign policy- so that for those who contend that Nixon could talk, or talk back, to Khrushchev in Russia- we have lost ground and caste the world over..... The subject, the author, and the time offer cumulative possibilities for a political profile which is sure to attract attention.
Pub Date: Oct. 3rd, 1960
Publisher: Macmillan
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1st, 1960


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