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Whose Broad Stripes & Bright Stars: The Trivial Pursuit of the Presidency 1988 Hardcover – July 7, 1991

4.4 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews

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Hardcover, July 7, 1991
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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Germond and Witcover, respected Washington insider journalists, have produced another in their series of books on Presidential elections which has become, in many ways, the liberal equivalent of Theodore H. White's Making of the President series. With a title reminiscent of Marathon ( LJ 7/77), Blue Smoke and Mirrors ( LJ 9/1/81), and Wake Us When It's Over ( LJ 7/85), they provide a well-researched and beautifully crafted account of the 1988 Presidential campaign. They track the rise of Michael Dukakis over the crowd of "flavor of the month" Democratic candidates and, in the discussion of the major events and issues of the campaign, provide rather ominous commentary on the changing role of consultants, dictators of schedules, and print and electronic journalists. As one would expect from these authors, it's all here.
- Frank Kessler, Missouri Western State Coll., St. Joseph
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover
  • Publisher: Random House Value Publishing (July 7, 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0517074532
  • ISBN-13: 978-0517074534
  • Product Dimensions: 8.8 x 6.2 x 1.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.9 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #10,533,755 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This book recreates the 1988 U.S. Presidential campaign (Bush vs. Dukakis) and its tawdry theater of sound bites, attack ads and half-truths. The authors show how Vice President George Bush Sr. won the Republican nomination by employing Lee Atwater's "South Carolina" strategy while dodging questions on Iran-Contra. Readers see how governor Michael Dukakis got the Democratic nod by getting credit for Massachusetts' strong economy and by winning the key primary in next door New Hampshire. We then see how Bush kept the advantage (despite picking Dan Quayle) with a crafty campaign that wrapped himself in the flag while attacking Dukakis as a less patriotic, soft-on-crime liberal. Dukakis' tepid response to these smears didn't cut it; nor did his Harvard persona or his finessing rather than flatly rejecting Jesse Jackson's pushy demand to be his running mate. I felt the authors barely touched another big factor; in a year of peaceful prosperity the party holding the White House (GOP) usually wins. On Election Day the voters said Bush by 54-46%.

Liberal Columnists Jack Germond and Jules Whitcover have written several very good books on Presidential campaigns. Here they blend inside information with cynicism for sleazy campaign tactics and consultants like Roger Ailes (i.e., Willie Horton prison ads). The authors also look at also-rans like Lloyd Bentsen, Bob Dole, Pat Robertson, and others that played a major role in the campaign.
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Format: Hardcover
Seasoned Washington professionals Jack Germond and Jules Witcover take the proper critical approach to a presidential campaign that in many ways represented a tragic slap in the face of democracy. Voters were so turned off that participation plummeted to 49%. This was the campaign where Willie Horton and the Pledge of Allegiance dominated. The book's subtitle of "The Trivial Pursuit of the Presidency" was accordingly apt.
When the media-orchestrated campaign of Roger Ailes, known as "the mudmeister," along with cohort Lee Atwater, who had been trained by none other than Richard Nixon, reached fever pitch, and a "news event" consisted of Republican nominee, Vice-President George H.W. Bush, visiting a flag factory, Dan Rather and his CBS news cohorts refused to cover the event. CBS explained to the Republicans that if they wanted serious coverage then the campaign needed to get serious and talk about substantive policy matters rather than hide behind the flag and expect to receive prime time attention. Voters in other states envied the Nevada prerogative of voters, which permitted the alternative of the truly turned off, a vote for "None of the above," which turned out to be a popular category.
Germond and Witcover present a detailed account of a campaign where glossy imagery and mud slinging obscured the real issues, beginning with rising American debt, which would continue to burgeon after Bush's victory over Democratic nominee Michael Dukakis. A highlight of the Republican's campaign was his promise at his party's New Orleans convention of, "Read my lips! No new taxes!" This was an irresponsible promise in view of the pervasive reality that economic circumstances vary and policies need to reflect those current circumstances.
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By A Customer on August 24, 2001
Format: Paperback
Fellow political junkies think I'm crazy for considering 1988 such an entertaining election, and they have a point: '92 featured the Perot boomlet and the eventual winner running third in the polls in summer; '96 had Buchanan's shocking New Hampshire win and Clinton's strange comeback; and 2000, was, well, 2000. Maybe it's just that '88 was the first campaign I followed. But it was a dirty, sleazy fight, with two unappealing nominees. Both campaigns were riddled with mistakes -- Bush's choice of Quayle, then-frontrunner Dukakis refusing to campaign during August. Most interesting is the desperation inside the Democratic Party as they see their best shot in years collapse before their eyes. This is just a good, solid campaign book in the tradition of the old Making Of The President series.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Germond and Witcover do an excellent job of covering Presidential politics from the disaster of 1984 (for the Democrats) to the optimism from the 1986 midterm elections. Good coverage of all the primary candidates. The book avoids the excruciating detail that can bog down some of the other presidential campaign books.
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Format: Paperback
This is actually my favorite in the series of political books by Germond/Witcover (henceforth, G/W). I will praise it and then criticize it.
It is worthy of praise for its excellent coverage of the immolation of Gary Hart and Joe Biden. It also does an outstanding job giving the history of Republican and Democratic parties in elections since 1960.
The weakness comes from the obvious liberal bias that Germond has. They get angry with George Bush and the campaign he ran - although when they get back around to covering the 1992 election, they don't mention the dirt that Bill Clinton threw without any network complaints.
They book also demonstrates that the liberal elite just don't get it. In the final analysis, there's a complaint about the GOP hanging Vietnam around the necks of Democrats as being "unpatriotic," and imply Bush merely continued that. But Bush actually succeeded in playing the kind of superficial game that Democrats usually play at the polls - and their only anger is because he won.
For example, it is common for the Democratic Party to say that the GOP will "cut" Social Security. I have debates on tape going back to 1960, and this argument has been made by every Democrat since 1976 (at least). But they know full well this is mere demagoguery. In fact, G/W do not bring out enough the fact that Dukakis was demagoguing that very issue - or the fact that he said he was a "card carrying member of the ACLU" in the primary but considered it "negative campaigning" when Bush hung the ACLU around his neck. The only problem the journalists have is NOT with the superficiality of elections, but the fact their chosen guy got beat.
However, if one looks past the usual liberal jargon, it does read very well. They also have an excellent chapter on the Michigan caucus (GOP side) that Pat Robertson exploited. Their hatred for Robertson is evident in the book, too.
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