QUEST FOR THE PRESIDENCY 1992 by Peter Goldman


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 A fly-in-campaign-headquarters perspective on the last presidential race, written by Newsweek's special election team, several of whose members also worked on Quest for the Presidency 1988 (1989). A portion of this book appeared in a special issue of the magazine, published a day and a half after the last polls closed on November 3, 1992. No candidate is an FDR to his handlers--or so goes the handlers' refrain to Goldman and associates. Bill Clinton's days of whine and roses came in the primaries, as he erupted into rages over staffers' inability to focus attention on his agenda--though questions about his past were what distracted the media from the message of change. Ross Perot was astonished at the enthusiasm sparked by his hint that he would run for president--then unexpectedly indecisive about managing his wild-card challenge to the two-party system. George Bush was too consumed by foreign policy to notice the tremors beneath his once-solid poll standings and disheartened that the only way to retain his office would be through the partisan dustup that won him a first term (and stinging criticism). The beginning of this account offers the hope of a meaningful interpretation of the results, as the authors depict national disgust with deepening recession and with cynical, corrupt incumbents. Before long, however, they resort to horse-race journalism featuring media meisters who groan as their charges stumble from exhaustion. So accustomed are these spin doctors to their craft that now they use it to explain their own campaign roles, as witnessed in the 100-odd pages of strategy memos in the appendix. The Newsweek team has uncovered some sardonic vignettes, to be sure (e.g., callers asking for Jerry Brown's campaign manager were sometimes told that she was chanting at a staff meeting and could not be disturbed), but too often they follow political warriors like James Carville, James Baker, and Ed Rollins as they sulk in their tents. Instead of sounding the ``quiet national crisis'' that upended the old order, the authors have let puffed-up pols strut and fret during their hour upon the stage. (61 b&w photos, not seen)

Pub Date: Nov. 14th, 1994
ISBN: 0-89096-644-3
Page count: 800pp
Publisher: Texas A&M Univ.
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1st, 1994