ELEPHANTS IN THE COTTON FIELDS: Ronald Reagan and the New Republican South by Wayne Greenhaw

ELEPHANTS IN THE COTTON FIELDS: Ronald Reagan and the New Republican South

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KIRKUS REVIEW

This is more or less about Southern Republicanism, from the party's 1854 founding to the present, and somewhere in its disorderly pages you'll find caustic journalistic profiles of Southern Republican pols, strategists, and outriders. You can scratch up an acquaintance with the political careers of heavyweights Howard Baker, Jesse Helms, and Strom Thurmond; take in the follies of Florida flash-in-pan Claude Kirk (""I'm proud that I'm Governor A Go Go""); get a pretty good feel for the rugged anti-permissiveness of Alabama's junior senator, ex-Vietnam P.O.W. Jeremiah Denton. Kevin Phillips (The Emerging Republican Majority) and other operatives--Harvey Lee Atwater, Richard Viguerie--are chiefly made to look foolish, Now and again Reagan turns up--in a reference to his affinity for Southerners lifted from one or the other of the Reagan books. The big problem is that much of this is simply incoherent: ""Mississippi gave Nixon his strongest margin as he broke several records. He became the first vice-president since Thomas Jefferson to be elected to two terms as president, and he became the first two-term vice president to be elected to two terms as president."" Next paragraph: ""In that same election a tall, trim, chestnut-haired, handsome, country-club-fashionable thirty-one-year-old who had served four years under Democratic Representative William Colmer, chairman of the House Rules Committee through most of the Sixties, rode Nixon's coattails that year in Mississippi's Fifth District, where Nixon beat McGovern with 87 percent of the vote."" Some colorful scraps but mostly a thicket.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1982
Publisher: Macmillan