I’m working my way through Season 2 of The Borgias and just laughed out loud by myself in my apartment when Juan brought his father, Pope Alexander VI, cigars as a gift during an audience and the Pope opened the box and said, “Turds?!”. Jeremy Irons rules.
Sure, there’s always my favorite Presidential book of all-time, Bob Greene’s Fraternity: A Journey In Search of Five Presidents(BOOK•KINDLE). Here is my review of Fraternity explaining my love for the book.
More recently and more in-depth is last year’s The Post-Presidency from Washington to Clinton by Burton I. Kaufman. That’s about as definitive of a book as you’ll find on the subject and it’s well-written, highly-detailed, and features obviously meticulous research from Kaufman.
“Bullets are not worth considering. Besides, I am so conceited that I do not think the Gods would create so potent a being for so prosaic an ending.”
— Winston Churchill, in a letter to his mother describing the experience (and his lack of fear) of being under fire in combat, 1895
Basically, this is just a fancy, Churchillian version of saying something that Tupac Shakur would rap 100 years later. I’m not sure how people can go through life without taking time to at least read a book of Churchill quotes.
Well, by the time Election Day rolls around, both candidates are pretty damn well-known. I guess you mean the losing candidate who basically had the highest national profile going into the election?
Even that is tough to say. With the 24/7 news cycle now and the 18-month-long primary season, any nominee within the past quarter-century has about as high of a national profile as you can get. So, I’m going to disqualify everyone since 1992. You also would have to take incumbent Presidents who lost bids for re-election out of the equation because nobody has a higher profile than an incumbent President of the United States — even if they are in danger of losing a shot at a second term.
I think that narrows it down to a handful of guys in particular:
•Henry Clay, whose national profile continued growing even as he continued losing Presidential elections in 1824, 1832, and 1844; Speaker of the House on multiple occasions, Clay was one of the most famous (and most popular) Americans alive throughout his life, but he had unfortunate timing when it came to Presidential elections and his popularity never got him to the White House for any other reason besides Cabinet meetings
•General Winfield Scott, the most famous soldier in America for nearly 40 years when he was surprisingly (and soundly) beaten by Franklin Pierce in the 1852 election
•Charles Evans Hughes, the former Governor of New York, associate justice of the Supreme Court, and future Chief Justice of the United States was one of the most qualified men to have ever sought the Presidency; in 1916, he came so close to winning the election that candidate Hughes and incumbent President Woodrow Wilson both went to bed on Election night expecting a Hughes victory once results from California, the decisive state, were tabulated
•Thomas E. Dewey, another New York Governor, was unsuccessful against a dying FDR in 1944 and a seemingly politically-dead Harry Truman in 1948, losing both times; Dewey’s 1948 loss to Truman was one of the biggest upsets of all-time, memorialized by the famous “Dewey Defeats Truman” newspaper headline
But if I’m going to settle on one losing candidate who I believe was the best-known or the candidate with the highest national profile going into his campaign, I think I’m going to have to settle on Richard Nixon in 1960. Because of advancements in technology, the introduction of televised debates, constant campaigning throughout the nation, and his role in public life prior to the 1960 campaign, I think Nixon had the highest national profile of any losing candidate. That’s not to say he was the most popular, but even though he was less than 50 years old, Nixon was already a controversial, divisive figure to some and a relentless Cold Warrior to others. Nixon’s opponent, John F. Kennedy, had the good looks, charisma, charm, money, famous name, and youth, but Nixon was only four years older than JFK and had established himself without many of the advantages that JFK possessed.
Most importantly, Richard Nixon had spent the previous eight years as Vice President to Dwight D. Eisenhower during a time of relative peace and prosperity. Eisenhower was popular and although Nixon didn’t necessarily get that rub from the old General, he could point to his work as Eisenhower’s VP as a huge advantage in experience over JFK when it came to politics as well as governing. The Vice Presidency was still not a powerful office, but the capability of Nixon and his steady work standing in for Ike when Eisenhower was seriously ill on several occasions is certainly one of the reasons that the Vice Presidency began a transformation from a dead-end job into the increasingly powerful position that it has become today.
It might seem strange to look back at it now, but Nixon was far more famous than John F. Kennedy was in 1960, and Nixon probably should have won that election. Nixon was hurt by the fact that President Eisenhower took so long to give his official blessing and support to the Nixon campaign, but there are also the voting irregularities in Cook County, Illinois as well as in Texas which have left questions in the minds of many historians about whether the 1960 election was fairly won by JFK.
Fair or not (and it’s also been noted that one of the reasons Nixon didn’t protest the 1960 election was because his own campaign might have been involved in some shenanigans at ballot boxes in friendly areas), Nixon lost and I think that I’d have to say he was the losing candidate with the highest profile.
I’m not sure how to decide which is most harmful. Unlike a radiation detector or something of the sort, there’s not really a machine or a test that measures the intensity and danger of various rays of stupidity and ignorance.
I think anything that comes from people simply closing their eyes and taking a guess or a leap of “faith” is ridiculous and calling it “Alternative Science” doesn’t describe their type of “thinking”. The only way science should be used to describe them is if you called it “This Is Anything But Science”. It’s all dangerous.
Yes, pretty crazy, huh? It’s hard to imagine, but Benjamin Harrison was definitely one of, if not THE, best orator of his generation of politicians.
No, the first book you asked about is a biography of Pope Pius XII, not Pope Francis — Soldier of Christ: The Life of Pope Pius XII by Robert A. Ventresca (BOOK•KINDLE). However, the book above it and the white book to the right of it are both books about Pope Francis.
As for the book that looks like the dust cover has a slash in it, that is just the cover design and it’s just an illustration, not an actual slice in the dust cover. The book itself — The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion (BOOK•KINDLE) by Jonathan Haidt — is fantastic. I don’t know if I’ve ever even mentioned it, but I highly recommend it.
Sure, they can be a drag, and I can’t say that the Gilded Age is my favorite era of history to study, but you just have to dig deeper and find the stories or ask questions that might lead to interesting thought or discoveries. For example, what if Garfield hadn’t been assassinated? What if Samuel J. Tilden put up any sort of fight over the 1876 election, which he was undoubtedly robbed of? How is it that Grover Cleveland, the only Democrat elected between the Civil War and Woodrow WIlson, is one of the most conservative Presidents in our history?
It might take a little work, but you start to see things in color instead of black and white. You see that Garfield and Arthur were fascinating personalities and that Arthur, who was ridiculously unqualified to be Vice President let alone President, made a stunning reversal of everything he had seemed to be during his career and turned into an effective and honest leader. There are the two campaigns between Grover Cleveland and Benjamin Harrison, 1884 and 1888, which were among the cleanest, most respectful campaigns in history, and which each ended up with the incumbent President being defeated. There’s the story of Harrison — an amazing, wonderful orator who mesmerized crowds but also happened to be a 5’6” “human iceberg” who had absolutely no ability to connect with another human being one-on-one. And through it all, in the background, a young, restless Theodore Roosevelt was rising to eventual power.
Everything can be boring if you don’t dig deep enough or view things from a different perspective. If you’re studying history that you find far too boring, start asking questions and make it interesting for yourself.
I can’t say that I’ve found the perfect or definitive book on the subject of the West Wing staff, but might want to check out these two books from Bradley H. Patterson — The White House Staff: Inside the West Wing and Beyond (BOOK) and To Serve the President: Continuity and Innovation in the White House Staff (BOOK•KINDLE). There’s also a book that specifically focuses on the role of White House Chiefs of Staff called The Nerve Center: Lessons in Governing from the White House Chiefs of Staff (BOOK•KINDLE) edited by Terry Sullivan.
Although it focuses on just one Administration, I also really like Chief of Staff: Lyndon Johnson and His Presidency (BOOK) by one of LBJ’s top aides Marvin Watson (with Sherman Markman). My enjoyment of it isn’t solely because it has to do with LBJ’s Administration, but because it’s well-written and an insightful, insider look on the process within the West Wing. Similarly, I’d highly recommend David Gergen’s Eyewitness To Power: The Essence of Leadership: Nixon to Clinton (BOOK•KINDLE). Gergen’s insight is especially interesting because he worked in the West Wing for Presidents Nixon, Ford, Reagan, and even the Democrat Clinton.