The Greatest Comeback: How Richard Nixon Rose from Defeat to Create the New Majority Hardcover – 5 Aug 2014
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"An evenhanded insider take on Nixon's storied political rebirth...Buchanan deals the story with a great deal of humility...Much more a balanced history than a me-me-me memoir." "-Chicago Tribune
"Should be required reading for RNC staff and everyone across the country trying to help the GOP win the Senate... A fun read not only for the opportunity to see Nixon in such a personal, behind-the-scenes way, but also for the lessons it offers us today." "-Newsmax"
"A fast-moving account of those comeback years, written in strong, clear prose...An upbeat portrait of Nixon as a surprisingly compassionate man, but a tough politician, energetic and well-informed, with a deep knowledge of world affairs and ideas about how to reset the balance of power and restore America's international standing." "-Washington Times"
"Buchanan's book performs the useful service of describing a populist triumph from the inside." "-The Economist"
"A conveniently incisive study guide to the 1968 presidential election... In his own unsparing way, Buchanan sums up the political tumult of the era--tumult signaling that the long reign of the New Deal, the Fair Deal, the New Frontier, and the Great Society were coming to an end." "-Breitbart
"Offers memories and insights on the meetings, memos, stump speeches, and conversations Nixon waded through to get to the White House. Details and factoids abound for politics junkies...Buchanan is a capable writer and skilled at providing succinct summary of the complex politics of the era." "-Publishers Weekly"
An evenhanded insider take on Nixon's storied political rebirth Buchanan deals the story with a great deal of humility Much more a balanced history than a me-me-me memoir. " Chicago Tribune
"Should be required reading for RNC staff and everyone across the country trying to help the GOP win the Senate A fun read not only for the opportunity to see Nixon in such a personal, behind-the-scenes way, but also for the lessons it offers us today. "-Newsmax"
A fast-moving account of those comeback years, written in strong, clear prose An upbeat portrait ofNixonas a surprisingly compassionate man, but a tough politician, energetic and well-informed, with a deep knowledge of world affairs and ideas about how to reset the balance of power and restore America s international standing. " Washington Times"
Buchanan s book performs the useful service of describing a populist triumph from the inside. " The Economist"
A conveniently incisive study guide to the 1968 presidential election In his own unsparing way, Buchanan sums up the political tumult of the era tumult signaling that the long reign of the New Deal, the Fair Deal, the New Frontier, and the Great Society were coming to an end. "-Breitbart
Offers memories and insights on the meetings, memos, stump speeches, and conversations Nixon waded through to get to the White House. Details and factoids abound for politics junkies Buchanan is a capable writer and skilled at providing succinct summary of the complex politics of the era. " Publishers Weekly"" --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
About the Author
PATRICK J. BUCHANAN, America's leading populist conservative, was a senior adviser to three U.S. presidents, ran for the Republican nomination in 1992 and 1996, and was the Reform Party's presidential candidate in 2000. The author of eleven other books, Buchanan is a syndicated columnist and founding member of three of America's foremost public affairs shows, NBC'sThe McLaughlin Groupand CNN'sCrossfire and Capitol Gang. He lives in McLean, Virginia." --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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Despite losing the presidency, the Democrats had expanded their presence in both houses of congress and statehouses during the Eisenhower administration. Registered Democrats outnumbered Republicans by about two to one. Eisenhower, who could have run on either party's ticket, was simply not a party builder for the GOP. The lack of political infrastructure, and a consistently hostile press, were handicaps that proved impossible for Nixon to overcome.
Buchanan has some good observations on the way the campaigns were run in 1960. They involved a lot of personal appearances, as neither candidate had yet figured out how to fully leverage television. When they did, it benefited Kennedy more than Nixon as he was the more telegenic man.
Buchanan, as an editorial writer at the St. Louis Globe-Democrat, saw what few others would have imagined: that Nixon was likely to be a contender again in the 1968 elections. Quoting Oliver Wendell Holmes "It is required of a man that he should share the passion and action of his time at peril of being judged not to have lived," Buchanan approached Nixon with an offer to serve.
After losing to Kennedy in 1960, Nixon planned his comeback via the governorship of California. California politics was then as now a rather confused. As always, the press treated Nixon viciously. Unable to rally the support of the fickle California GOP establishment, the camp of Knowland, Kuchel and Earl Warren, Nixon lost to Edmund G "Pat" Brown, the father of the present Gov. Jerry Brown. After his loss, he decided to wash his hands of politics, and the press was quick to dismiss him.
Nixon moved to New York and founded the law firm of Nixon, Mudge, Rose, Guthrie and Alexander. His national and international exposure was extremely valuable for attracting clients, and the firm prospered. Practicing law, however, bored Nixon, and he kept his hand in politics. When Buchanan called, Nixon decided he could use somebody to help with the writing and the planning of his travels and appearances. He subjected Buchanan, young and not highly credentialed, to a very thorough interview before inviting him as the anchor member of his reelection team.
The substance of the book starts with the 1966 by-elections. At that point Johnson's Great Society was in full swing, programs put in place with a veto proof majority in both houses of Congress. The Republicans were unable even to function as a loyal opposition, questioning the wisdom of Johnson's social programs or the war in Vietnam.
The Republican establishment, Nelson Rockefeller, George Romney and Jacob Javits to name three, had refused to support Barry Goldwater actively in 1964. Nixon, despite reservations about some of Goldwater's rhetoric, campaigned for him in 36 states. Though the candidate was thoroughly trounced, conservatives remembered Nixon as a loyal friend.
Again in 1966 Nixon took it upon himself to become the best-known Republican to campaign nationally on behalf of Republican candidates. He focused his efforts more on rookies, those without the advantage of incumbency, and earned a great many debts of gratitude as the Republicans gained 47 house seats in 1966.
The press did not give him credit for the success, nor did they see him shedding his loser image or reemerging as a candidate for 1968. This contented Nixon. Leaving Romney and Rockefeller to fight it out for the limelight, he was satisfied to remain in the background, continuing to do good works on behalf of the party.
The 1960s was a time of huge social issues and turmoil. While Buchanan does not dwell on the sexual and the drug revolution, he dedicates a great deal of space to discussing the antiwar movement and the race issue.
The protesters against the war behaved as though their cause was so just, that the war was so immoral, that they were justified in breaking whatever laws were necessary in their protests. I observed it as a student at Berkeley in 1964. My take at the time was that these antiwar activists did not really have a coherent point of view, that the protesters could not articulate what they were fighting against and could not talk rationally about the war. They did know that they did not want to be shot at, and powerful social trends had eroded their respect for their elders, government in general and the war effort in particular. Their opposition had been subdued when Kennedy had been President, but it blossomed when the unsympathetic Southerner Lyndon Johnson took over.
Buchanan's take at the time was authentically conservative. A society without rule of law, a society which cannot conduct arguments civilly, is not healthy whatsoever. It is a dangerous society. It was wrong to indulge the antiwar protesters, as the liberal establishment and the media did.
The same applied to violence in race questions. The liberal theory was that blacks had been held down, systematically mistreated, and now they were only demanding what was fair using the only means at their disposal. Buchanan's observation is that Blacks in America were materially better off than most peoples in the world, and were poor only in relation to whites. Moreover, Blacks had enjoyed relatively equal and open access to the benefits of American society. There were many successful Blacks that one could point to in the 1960s: US Ambassador to the United Nations Ralph Bunche, Sen. Edward Brooke, and many figures in professional sports and in business. There were, in fact, many successful blacks even in 19th century America. It simply was untrue to say that the blacks had been oppressed to the point that they could not succeed.
The Black resistance, chronicled by Tom Wolfe in his article Radical Chic & Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers, was not a just rebellion against oppression, it was a question of Blacks doing what they could get away with. My view, as a National Guard soldier, echoed those of Wolfe and Buchanan. I was driving a 2 ½ ton army truck, trying to avoid badly parked Cadillacs in Watts. The irony was striking - Cadillacs in front of single-family homes are not a symbol of a poverty-stricken society. Moreover, curiously, the businesses the Blacks burned were the very businesses that served their communities in Watts, Hunters Point, and later Washington DC. The damage they did was felt most severely by their own people. Buchanan, as a native Washingtonian, felt the injury when the Blacks in 1968 burned the seventh and fourteenth Street corridors of that city.
Buchanan quite accurately saw the Soviets as duplicitous and opportunistic. He recounts how they goaded Nasser to start a war with Israel, and then did not back him up when it blossomed into a real fight. It is exactly the same today. Putin has induced a motley collection of rebel forces to start fights in Ukraine, but seems unwilling to back up these people that he encouraged to start trouble on his behalf. As an aside, not in the book, it amazes me that Buchanan is able to claim that God is on Putin's side simply because the West has become so godless. He may recall that Hitler also claimed God. In any case, Buchanan's accurate descriptions of the Soviet activities in the 1960s are pretty much identical to what is going on in the teens of the 21st century.
[British PM Douglas-Home's] focus was on Russia's role in the recent war. The Soviets are in this thing "up to their necks," he said. They have twin goals: make Nasser dominant in the region, and, through him, gain a Soviet foothold in Africa. Asked how this affected "detente," Sir Alec said the Soviets move when they see an opportunity. They always have. Like a knife, they push ahead when they hit butter, and back away when they hit steel. Where they run into unity and strength, relations tend to improve. Soviet policy seeks "a maximum of confusion for a minimum of commitment." The Soviets did not intervene militarily in the Arab-Israeli war because they do not commit their military power far from their homeland."
Buchanan quotes Churchill as saying that "The belief that security can be obtained by throwing a small state to the wolves is a fatal delusion." That is true, and the small states currently in play are Ukraine, Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, Moldova and Georgia. I remind Pat should he be reading this review.
This book is a satisfying read in a great many ways. Buchanan is as articulate and consistent of a conservative voice as one will find in America. It is a remarkable piece of history for him to have witnessed as a man in his late 20s. He was close to the centers of power, with keen powers of observation, and half a century later he is well served by a great memory and a great many archives to draw from. This book is altogether a five-star effort.
He experienced the whole thing up close and personal. Patrick J. Buchanan went to work for Richard Nixon in December 1965. Young Mr. Buchanan had taken a look at the political landscape and was convinced that the former Vice President was the logical choice to be the Republican presidential nominee in 1968. He desperately wanted to be a part of it. As far as most of the political gurus of the day were concerned Richard Nixon was dead and buried. But bubbling in the bowels of America was a resurgence of interest in conservative ideas. Richard Nixon sensed an opportunity and cobbled together a game plan. Throughout 1966 he worked tirelessly for Republican congressional and gubernatorial candidates all across America. His gamble paid off in spades. 1966 turned out to be the greatest Republican off-year election triumph in decades. Pat Buchanan chronicles what many believe to be the most incredible turnaround in American political history in his compelling new book "The Greatest Comeback: How Richard Nixon Rose from Defeat to Create the New Majority". Being a lifelong political junkie, this book brought back a flood of memories of people, places and events from so very long ago. I simply could not put it down.
Pat Buchanan makes it abundantly clear from the outset that his boss was no ideologue. In fact,on any number of occasions he refers to Mr. Nixon as a "progressive" conservative. According to the author "The Nixon I knew had many conservative views and values but he was no ideologue. Unlike modern conservatives, he did not view government as the enemy." Interesting stuff! In "The Greatest Comeback" Buchanan gives us the lowdown on Nixon's chief rivals for the GOP nomination and where they stood on the issues. Meanwhile, the former Vice President made a conscious decision to surround himself with a group of advisors that represented all factions of the Republican Party. Pat Buchanan was the resident conservative. What would emerge was a candidate who appealed to both moderates and to conservatives. The chaotic events of 1968 would only serve to strengthen his appeal. Richard Nixon would not only capture the GOP nomination but would go on to a resounding win in November,
What you will discover in "The Greatest Comeback" is that Richard Nixon was anything but a "has-been". Here was a man with sharp political instincts. Throughout 1968 Mr. Nixon bobbed and weaved and skillfully outflanked his opponents at every turn. He was exceptionally well versed in all issues both foreign and domestic and welcomed vigorous debate and dissent within his inner circle. He placed a great deal of importance on advance work. For once in his life Richard Nixon was dealt a winning hand and he played it with great acumen. What makes Mr. Nixon's comeback all the more remarkable is that he was not a charismatic man.
I found "The Greatest Comeback: How Richard Nixon Rose from Defeat to Create the New Majority" to be a thoughtful, well-written and at times very entertaining book. The book includes a couple dozen photos from the period along with an interesting "Appendix" containing 8 of Buchanan's memos to the candidate marked with Nixon's scribbled replies. This is the kind of "inside" history that I really enjoy. "The Great Comeback" would be a spendid choice for history buffs, political junkies and general readers alike, Highly recommended!
As an aside, the author uses a last line teaser to indicate that he may already be working on a book dealing with Watergate. If he does so, I would be interested in how he characterizes the President differently than he has done the Candidate. It is for this reason that my review is entitled resurgence not resurrection. I can only think of one individual that rose from the dead to never die again, and that was Jesus Christ. Nixon regained a following but flushed it down the drain with horrible choices in a cover-up. Had he come clean immediately, the drama that we know as Watergate may never have occurred.
The book is delightfully written and easy to understand. To be honest, it was the fastest 350+ page book I've ever read. Buchanan has a reputation of being a partisan, but that side does not emerge front and center on every page. Yes, it can still be detected, but he writes more from an admiration of Nixon standpoint than a partisan one. He does capture the cultural struggles of the day that helped foster the resurgence of Nixon, and this historiography further enhances the work itself.
My biggest gripe revolves around the end of the campaign where Nixon was losing ground as Wallace's supporters flooded to Humphrey. Buchanan utilized significant and meticulous details throughout every section of the book until this final piece. The drama of what was really happening and the response was deficient. He took great pains to describe the blunders of the Democratic National Convention but not so much of Nixon's "safe" campaign at the end. I believe these additional details would have completed the book in a more full and rich manner.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 25: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.