TRB: Views and Perspectives on the Presidency by Richard L. Strout

TRB: Views and Perspectives on the Presidency

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Strout began writing the anonymous TRB column in The New Republic in 1943--he is also a writer for the Christian Science Monitor--and it has been a forum for New Deal liberalism ever since. Grouped according to the various presidencies he has observed, this is the first collection of Strout's TRB pieces, and it makes for an interesting chronicle of his ""views and perspectives"" if not necessarily of the Presidency. Nurtured on FDR's social reforms and an opposition to isolationism--Taft was a favorite early target--Strout's position never wavers. Among his consistent themes is the paralysis induced by the Presidential system and a preference for a parliamentary system that would facilitate the passage of legislation. Hidden behind this view, though, is the notion of the President as ""doer,"" and Strout's rage is usually reserved for the obstacles to social reform thrown up by Congress, be it filibusters over civil rights legislation or hedging on Carter's energy bill. Strout's euphoric early columns on the silent social revolution occurring in the U.S. through the New Deal, like his later ones declaring Truman's policies even more radical than FDR's, betray his rather archaic view that nationalization and more governmental economic intervention are all there is to socialism. When Strout celebrates the election of JFK, and singles out his group of activist advisers--""the best and the brightest""--for praise, we already know where this version of activism will end. Strout's columns on Cuba and Vietnam show an appreciation of the impossibility of imposing American domination on the Third World, but he doesn't link up these foreign policy disasters with his own virulent anti-Soviet views. Strout's writing is crisp and evocative; his ideas have become stale and rigid.

Pub Date: Oct. 31st, 1979
Publisher: Macmillan