NOBODY KNOWS: Reflections on the McCarthy Campaign of 1968 by Jeremy Larner

NOBODY KNOWS: Reflections on the McCarthy Campaign of 1968

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The harshest judgment by an insider of the McCarthy crusade yet to surface in book form (an earlier version appeared in Harper's), Nobody Knows focuses unsparingly upon the gap between the man and his movement, the problems of personality and politics. As one of McCarthy's two speechwriters during most of the campaign (whose issue-oriented texts were generally muted, mumbled, or entirely discarded by the candidate), Lamer draws on an ""accumulation of painful experience"" acquired in six months of day-to-day contacts. Larner's basic plaint is that McCarthy put his own personality, his conception of himself, at the center of the campaign, instead of the issues he symbolized to hopeful supporters, and thus ultimately made his stand for a style rather than a cause. This private sensibility, rooted in Catholic school thought and a conservative view of the dynamics of change, proved debilitating to the campaign and disillusioning to many of the faithful, as did McCarthy's ""compassion gap"" and his reluctance to take practical responsibility for his spiritual decisions: "" 'new politics' meant little more than his personal freedom from commitments to anyone."" Also disturbing to Larner was the sniping and snobbery indulged in by the candidate and his sycophantic inner circle. Although McCarthy does get credit where Larner feels it's due, the record here is largely one of opportunities missed and confrontations avoided. Critical but conscientious, with many telling revelations, this chronicle certainly makes for livelier reading than McCarthy's own The Year of the People (p. 976)

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 1969
Publisher: Macmillan