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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The true story of the US 1968 presidential campaign, 19 Sep 2003
Bert Ruiz "author/journalist" (Pleasantville, NY) - See all my reviews
Somewhere in the second chapter of this splendid book, Leonard Hall, national Republican chairman said; "You sell your candidates and your programs the way a business sells its products." This succinct message captures the essence of Joe McGinniss and his book, "The Selling of the President."
The author explains how Richard Nixon is packaged and distributed to the American people by clever television professionals.
The marriage of politicians and advertising men first took place in 1956 when Dwight Eisenhower ran for re-election and selected the agency of Batton, Barto, Durstine and Osborn. McGinniss explains that the basic advertising concepts remained unchanged right up to 1968 but that Richard Nixon made every use of all the sophisticated technical advances of the day. Moreover, the author details how slick New York advertising men seduced voters which elevated them from the smoky parlors to the expensive suites with the political big shots.
Advertising executives allowed Nixon to dominate the airwaves. To this end, the television campaign allowed Nixon to get through the campaign with a dozen or so carefully worded responses that would cover all the problems of America in 1968. After a while it is rather clear that Richard Nixon is basically a boring man. However, with proper packaging Nixon soon represented competence, respect for tradition, serenity, faith that the American people were better than people anywhere else, and that all these problems others shouted about meant nothing in a land blessed with the tallest buildings, strongest armies, biggest factories, cutest children, and rosiest sunsets in the world.
I found the marriage of political and advertising minds fascinating. Of particular interest is how certain keywords such as conscientiousness, vigorous, party unifier, newness, glamour, humor, warmth could create a television facade to hide a candidate's blemishes. This is a great book and should be used in the classroom to show how television altered how politics and campaigns are orchestrated in the United States.
Bert Ruiz
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Memorable book, 11 Jan 2010
Susan J. Sparks (London United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Selling of the President (Paperback)
I read this book years ago, in the 1970s, I think. Things in the news often remind me of it, especially as some of the key figures in the book, for example, Roger Ailes, are very much around today. He is head of Fox News now. The main polling expert in the Nixon campaign, who is mentioned a lot in the book, helped Nixon to craft different messages for the South and the major cities and was also very important in the Dubya campaigns. Altogether a very prophetic book, but also very funny.
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The Selling of the President
The Selling of the President by Joe McGinniss (Paperback - 31 Dec 1988)
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