"Politics makes for strange bedfellows," the old saying goes. Americans, however, often forget the obvious lesson underlying this adage: politics is about winning elections and governing once in office. Voters of all stripes seem put off by the rough-and-tumble horse-trading and deal-making of politics, viewing its practitioners as self-serving and without principle or conviction.
Because of these perspectives, the scholarly and popular narrative of American politics has come to focus on ideology over all else. But as Donald T. Critchlow demonstrates in his riveting new book, this obsession obscures the important role of temperament, character, and leadership ability in political success. Critchlow looks at four leading Republican presidential contenders—Richard Nixon, Nelson Rockefeller, Barry Goldwater, and Ronald Reagan—to show that, behind the scenes, ideology mattered less than principled pragmatism and the ability to build coalitions toward electoral and legislative victory.
Drawing on new archival material, Critchlow lifts the curtain on the lives of these political rivals and what went on behind the scenes of their campaigns. He reveals unusual relationships between these men: Nixon making deals with Rockefeller, while Rockefeller courted Goldwater and Reagan, who themselves became political rivals despite their shared conservatism. The result is a book sure to fascinate anyone wondering what it takes to win the presidency of the United States—and to govern effectively.
About the Author
Table of Contents
Introduction. Presidential Character, Politics, and Power
Chapter 1. Richard Nixon: The Disillusioned Idealist
Chapter 2. Nelson Rockefeller: Ambition and Appetite
Chapter 3. Idealism Betrayed, Opportunity Denied: Nixon and Rockefeller Compared
Chapter 4. Barry Goldwater: Undisciplined Individualist
Chapter 5. Ronald Reagan: Principled Pragmatist
Chapter 6. Uneasy Allies: Goldwater and Reagan Compared
Epilogue. Voters and Leaders in Disarray