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Drawing the Line at the Big Ditch: The Panama Canal Treaties and the Rise of the Right Hardcover – March 18, 2008


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 296 pages
  • Publisher: University Press of Kansas; First Edition edition (March 18, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0700615822
  • ISBN-13: 978-0700615827
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #684,604 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Former New York Times Washington correspondent Clymer (Edward M. Kennedy) argues in this straightforward, able account that Jimmy Carter's loss in the 1980 presidential election can largely be attributed to his widely unpopular negotiations to return the Panama Canal to Panama. America was demoralized after Vietnam, and many citizens were opposed to giving up the canal, long a symbol of American progress and power. Conservatives seized on the issue. As early as 1975, Reagan condemned returning the canal as a sign of American weakness, declaring with his characteristic simple directness: we bought it, we paid for it, we built it and we intend to keep it. Clymer also examines several Senate races in which incumbents who had voted to give up the canal were unseated by right-wingers. Although Clymer acknowledges that many forces contributed to the rise of the Right, his relentless focus on the canal is tendentious at times. Still, Clymer makes an innovative contribution to the growing literature that seeks to explain how conservatism triumphed after Goldwater. 20 photos. (Mar.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

"Clymer shows how one issue played out during the scorched-earth campaigns when the New Right rose to prominence." -- New York Times Book Review

"Fascinating." -- Washington Post

"Indispensable to any student of modern political history." --Weekly Standard

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By George Watson on April 7, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Clymer uses his reporting talents and writing skills to explain how the new American right lost the fight over the Panama Canal treaty, but used the loss to help win the White House for Ronald Reagan and energize the
right wing of the Republican Party. If you like to read about how high-stake politics are played, written by an ace Washington reporter, this is the one.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Bruce Lilley on March 24, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Clymer's book is a good review of the role of the debate over the Panama Canal treaty's role in the 1976 and 1980 election cycles, and the role that that debate help to establish the right wing of the Republican Party. There are other factors of course, both foreign (Iran hostage crisis for example) and domestic (reaction to the Great Society of Johnson Administration) that played probably a greater role, but overall it is a good review of this one facet of American politics in the mid-to late 70's that we are still living with today. Clymer's observation at the end of the book about the Canal Treaties being a part of what resulted in politically splitting the USA (instead of the canal splitting Panama)is essentially true. Ironically, none of the claims of doom made by the conservatives that were made about the Canal Treaties and control being turned over to the Panamanians, such as inevitable eventual communist take-over, ever came true.
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By Campbelldropout on November 30, 2012
Format: Hardcover
If you are looking for a detailed history about the Panama Canal or the relations between the U.S. and Panama this is not the book, this book focuses specifically on the passing of the treaties and their impact on American politics. The book spends several chapters covering specific elections across the country about Senators that supported the bill and what happened in their re-election campaigns. The one that was of the most interest to me was Senator Robert Morgan, I have been able to meet Senator Morgan and he is the reason I decided to read this book. Out of all the elections that are discussed this seems to be the only one that was most likely impacted by passing of the treaties. While I do not believe that people lose elections on one factor, I believe from the details in the book it seems that the treaties had a major impact in the 1980 election for the U.S. Senate in North Carolina (but there was a small revolution that occurred that year). The book starts out with a short history of the canal and the history of the treaties (which were initiated in the Johnson administration) and takes us straight into the political battle. I personally do not believe that the Canal issue was the reason for the rise of the right, which is what Clymer seems to imply, instead I believe it was more of a stepping stone in helping them reach their revolution in 1980. Without the treaties Reagan would have never been able to beat Ford in North Carolina or been able to raise as much money as he did. The book does discuss the introduction of target mailing being used as a tool to rally supporters and obtain campaign donations.Read more ›
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Eric Hobart VINE VOICE on May 12, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Adam Clymer has attempted to demonstrate that the Panama Canal Treaties strongly impacted the rise of Conservatism in the 1970s and 1980s. However, he has better demonstrated that Conservatism rose alongside of these treaties within the context of the Cold War rather than proving that the treaties were the driving force.

The evidence Clymer has elected to use in the book shows that many of those opposed to ratification of the treaty to return control of the canal to Panama were primarily concerned about the Communists influencing daily operations in the Canal Zone and the way that would impact America. There are certainly highlights in the book that demonstrate that the fight over the Canal impacted American politics, especially in the 1978 & 1980 elections, but nowhere is it clearly spelled out that this single decisive issue caused the rise of the right.

I believe that this book is good food for thought, and it gives scholars good ideas on some facets of the rise of the right in these 2 pivotal elections, but it does not adequately explain how the Panama Canal treaties influenced the political right turn taken by America in the 1980s and 90s.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Robert S. November on April 23, 2008
Format: Hardcover
"Drawing the Line" is an intriguing analysis of how the issue of the Panama Canal Treaty was exploited by Ronald Reagan to gain the nomination of the Republican Party four years later. Clymer also describes how the issue galvanized the Republican Right. An important book for those interested in current American politics.

Robert November
Scarsdale, New York
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