Theodore H. White: In Awe of American Democracy

In addition to “What It Takes,” the other political campaign classics are, of course, Theodore White‘sMaking of the President 1960Making of the President 1964, 1968 and 1972. I’m glad to see that new editions of these books have been released (including as ebooks) and they are still required reading by students of politics and history.

White portrayed American presidential campaigns as heroic quests of public service in an ennobling democracy. While today’s cynical journalists, and a far more cynical public, may consider White naive and too close to his subjects, his books endure while scandal-mongering quickly fades into trivia. Yes, White’s techniques did raise questions about how protective a journalist should be of candidates and how much he inflated the images of candidates to make them appear wiser than ordinary mortals. But his larger theme, that power transfers peacefully in America after the voice of the people is heard, can still inspire awe.
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