I NEVER WANTED TO BE VICE-PRESIDENT OF ANYTHING!"" An Investigative Biography of Nelson Rockefeller by Michael & Sam Roberts Kramer

I NEVER WANTED TO BE VICE-PRESIDENT OF ANYTHING!"" An Investigative Biography of Nelson Rockefeller

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What made Rocky run? How did he use ""the vast, often hidden, resources of Rockefeller wealth and influence to achieve his political triumphs""? After the v-p confirmation hearings, better questions than ever. In the loose first section newsmen Kramer (New York magazine) and Roberts (New York Daily News) rough in Rockefeller's application to public life of ""his grandfather's talent for attracting associates and consolidating power."" Beginning at the Office of Inter-American Affairs he operated through contacts (Anna Rosenberg was his conduit to FDR) and money (he flew Latin-American luminaries to private parties, ""an opportunity not available to career diplomats""). The second section focuses on Rockefeller's exercise of power as governor--the celebrated subsidies for favored officials, the manipulation of legislators, the megalomania of the Albany Mall--but the discussion is weakened by a failure to distinguish between 1) Rockefeller power, 2) the acts of an unprincipled politician, and 3) politics as usual. Unequivocally in the first category, however, was the Christmas Eve 1971 call of Hugh Carey to Wilbur Mills, from Rockefeller's apartment, to obtain assurance of a revenue-sharing bill and save the state budget from axing by Speaker Perry Duryea. (A Rockefeller aide then flew down to fetch the confirming letter.) Also spotlighted is the Rockefeller-John Mitchell-William Ronan scheme (""a second state government"") of 41 semiautonomous ""authorities"" empowered to float their own bonds, thus averting the danger of a defeated bond issue. Without Rockefeller's ""personal closeness to the banking community,"" the scheme collapsed. The final section recaps Rockefeller's political career from the first gubernatorial nomination through the foredoomed presidential tries (""what worked so well in New York failed miserably elsewhere"") to its dead end, the vice presidency. Solid documentation, no malice, and Rockefeller muscle aside, a strategic reader in state and national politics.

Pub Date: June 4th, 1976
Publisher: Basic Books