PUBLIC PERSONS by Walter Lippmann


Email this review


For a Lippmann round-up, the focus on personages--by no means all political figures--seems an ideal one; as a journalist he rarely wrote about personalities but when he did he combined wry detachment with his abiding philosophical concerns. And some of these pieces stand up well. Lippmann does in Warren Harding with cool dispatch (""I am distinguished for leadership by the fact that nothing distinguishes me""). On the other hand, a piece on George Clemenceau, France's WW I ""Tiger,"" is banal, a historical footnote at most. And a salute to Amelia Earhart can be read as patronizing. Lippmann, who had little faith in the wisdom of the masses, was an admirer of ""leaders"" though he saw few of genuine stature in the 20th century. (Harrison notes that toward the end of his life, he came to believe James Madison the last great American president.) He admits to being an ""unqualified hero-worshipper"" of Theodore Roosevelt, on the grounds that TR was an ""inveterate hater"" of ""grandiose policies based on bluffing."" (!) Though Lippmann supported Ike in '52 and '56, he wondered at Adlai Stevenson's death in 1965, ""was he the last of his noble breed?"" And to his credit, he had the perspicacity to differentiate between JFK of the Camelot legend and ""the very mixed collection of errors and false starts and brilliant illuminations"" that was the Kennedy administration. Elegantly penned as it is, this too is a very mixed, sometimes sententious collection.

Pub Date: Oct. 18th, 1976
ISBN: 1412810612
Publisher: Norton