Friday, 11 May 2012

Media: Robert Caro, Power, Presidency

Ok, that’s actually a rather grand title for this post, as I actually just wanted to share a couple of quotes from his interview with TIME magazine (May 21 2012, p.64). When asked about what advice he would give to Mitt Romney about his vice-presidential pick, Caro responded:

“I’m not going to give advice to Romney. But a presidential candidate has a great responsibility to America to pick someone who is well fitted to the role. I think John McCain’s selection of Sarah Palin is the single most irresponsible act of government I can remember.”

Quite the scathing indictment. True, it’s not exactly a ground-breaking comment (there are plenty of people who have gone on the record about how disappointing McCain’s VP pick was), but I thought it was interesting that he would be so blunt about his political allegiances.

Another interesting snippet from the interview:

Q: In studying political power, have you figured out why Presidents get so little done?

A: “Part of it is the inherent resistance to transformative change embodied in Congress. In the 1930s, ’40s, ’50s and ’60s, it was the Southern Democrats who controlled Congress and stood in the way of social-welfare legislation. Today it’s the Republican Party.”

Robert Caro is the author of the (seemingly never-ending) series of biographies of President Lyndon B. Johnson (The Years of Lyndon Johnson), the latest of which – The Passage of Power – has just been published by Knopf.

Caro-LBJ4-PassageOfPower

It’s a series I would love to read, but sadly I just don’t have the time. I think I will probably make do with Doris Kearns Goodwin’s biography of LBJ – not exactly “settling”, as that biography has also received plenty of praise. Not to mention, it’s complete, shorter and arguably more accessible.

I know one shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but there really seems to be a trend in some historical publishing circles that favours singularly boring covers. Along with Caro’s book, Henry Kissinger’s latest, On China (paperback edition now available), was also bland to the point of appearing unfinished:

Kissinger-OnChinaUS

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