THE SELLING OF THE PRESIDENT
This is the beginning of a whole new concept. . . . This is the way they'll be elected forevermore. The next guys up will have to be performers." (TV Director, Nixon Campaign). The "new concept" was the marketing of a Presidential candidate as an attractive TV personality--"glamorous," "loved"--but politically a neuter. A job successfully performed on Richard Nixon by a bevy of advertising and TV experts, caught at their taping sessions and concept meetings by an able reporter who has now turned his notes into a fascinating and unusual campaign expose. Using their scripts and memos, as well as direct quotation, McGinniss lets the Media Men tell how they put over the Massage. How they "corrected" Nixon's lack of warmth, while keeping him perspiration-free (because "I can't do this sincerity bit with the camera if he's sweating"). How they projected--not through position papers but through artful commercials--such sentiments as "concern for the countryside, its values and farmers' welfare." (Stills of threshers, silos, and Aberdeen Angus herds.) It all adds up to a short course in how to "create an image without saying anything," presented with sardonic verve--and raising important questions about the future of political discussion in America. Part published in the August Harper's.