Details Matter in Governing- Brexit Edition

With the victory in Great Britain of the “Leave” campaign there has been continuing debate, amongst citizens, politicians and economists about what the ramifications are, writ large, for the country. Obviously there is some strong disagreement on that issue, with the campaign claims from both sides continuing, but with many on the “Leave” side essentially walking back expectations of what the ultimate outcome will be. (Boris Johnson post Brexit column, “Britain is Part of Europe”)

So where should our focus be in this debate? An interesting question, with the cross currents of politics, economics, Trumpism, trade, globalism, and striking out at economic elites all coming into play. Plenty to talk or write about, but for now I want to look at one of the areas that all sides appear to agree on, British access to the Common Market. It appears to me that all sides agree that such access is significantly important to the British economy, and that pre-election both sides argued that a vote for either would protect that access. Regardless of the actual rank of the E.U. in terms of trade with Britain it is a significant and important trading partner to the country. But there is a second part of that equation that brings major disagreement, which is the E.U. immigration rules, i.e. the “free movement of people.” Access to the “Common Market” has required adoption of the E.U. rules, even for non-members like Norway. The “Leave” campaign has been emphatic in putting forward the idea that Britain will be able to negotiate a Brexit deal with the E.U. that maintains Common Market trade access but gives Britain the ability to shed E.U. immigration rules, as well as getting rid of or modifying its financial obligations. Brexit advocate, and Conservative M.P. David Davis, said in a conservative publication:

This leaves the question of Single Market access. The ideal outcome, (and in my view the most likely, after a lot of wrangling) is continued tariff-free access. Once the European nations realise that we are not going to budge on control of our borders, they will want to talk, in their own interest. There may be some complexities about rules of origin and narrowly-based regulatory compliance for exports into the EU, but that is all manageable.

Reflective of the Davis position I saw a comment from a poster over at the Economist that summed up the “Leave” position fairly succinctly.

Unobstructed free trade with Europe plus free movement in Europe for British citizens plus restricted immigration into Britain from Europe, plus an end to adherence to European standards and fees paid to Europe. This is the plan sold by Brexiters.

Is this a realistic possibility? Britain has been locked in negotiations with the E.U. over the unique status that Britain held, and hoped to improve through negotiations. Prime Minister Cameron came back with a deal, but that deal was not enough to satisfy many members of his own Party, but may be instructive as to how the Brexit negotiations will go. No need to get into the weeds on that issue, (the link handles that) but suffice to say that the E.U., after reaching a deal with Cameron, likely feels put upon and will not give much more in the Brexit negotiation, despite the claims of “Leave” proponents. It is my belief that David Cameron wells knows this, and may be one reason he hit the exit doors so fast. At his last E.U. Summit Cameron heard this directly from the E.U. From the Wall Street Journal story on that Summit.

At a meeting described as sad and occasionally emotional on Tuesday, Mr. Cameron said discontent over the EU’s principle of free movement of labor, which has led to heavy immigration into the U.K., was a driving factor behind last week’s vote to leave. He urged the EU to be flexible on the treaty rule that grants EU citizens the right to live and work in other member countries if it wanted to maintain close economic ties with the U.K.But European leaders, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President François Hollande, spurned that call with a simple message: Full access to the EU market means accepting free movement.The differences encapsulated the central dilemma for the U.K. as it moves toward negotiations with the bloc over their future relationship: For Britain to secure a close trading relationship with the bloc, the more obligations it will likely have to accept—including many that are unpopular with Britons who voted to leave.“To access the internal market, [a country] must respect the four liberties: liberty of circulation of goods, of capital, of services and people,” Mr. Hollande said. It must also contribute to the EU budget, he said.

There are a host of other issues involved that makes the British negotiating position exceedingly difficult, including the status of Scotland , as well as the ultimate status of Northern Ireland and the impact of Brexit on the Good Friday accords. On immigration the problem is not limited to immigration flows INTO Britain, but include the status of British nationals working within the E.U. So what is my point? That Brexit was a poor choice? We are going to find that out eventually, but maybe we can focus on how unprepared Brexit leaders were for the eventual victory. I do not mean to pick on new Foreign Minister Boris Johnson, but he embodies the buffoonery that the pro-Brexit group has exhibited since victory. Where was the plan? It is my belief that they will not be able to get the E.U. to agree to Common Market access while limiting the free movement of people. Not sure how they solve the Scotland and Ireland problems, and I am not sure the “Leave” folks have any good ideas at this point. So the default position is that we need to “wait” before we file Article 50 (Treaty requirement to notify the E.U. a member state is leaving), to develop a coherent negotiating position.

The “Leave” campaign is one of ideological broad brush, unconcerned with those pesky details. I am not saying that campaigns should be in the policy weeds, as that, especially today, does not work. But allowing detail averse politicians to simply make emotional appeals without even a hint that they have ANY clue on the ramifications of that advocacy is not without danger to our democracy. Unfortunately it is becoming the norm.

Finally, will Brexit work for Britain? The E.U. has a myriad of faults, one of which is the arrogance of the Brussels E.U. infrastructure. The E.U. has indeed brought some of this on themselves. I do believe that if the British were able to negotiate access to the Common Market, shed all of the “bad” E.U. regulations, and reach trade agreements bilaterally with major trading partners such as the U.S. and China they would indeed have hit the lottery. I just do not believe that is likely, and I believe that invocation of Article 50 will be delayed because the new Prime Minister in Britain does not believe it either.

Tony Blair on the ramifications of Brexit. 

Eric Schnurer on Brexit

Krugman on the economics of Brexit 


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A Look at “After Hitler” by Michael Jones

After Hitler: The Last Days of World War Two in EuropeAfter Hitler: The Last Days of World War Two in Europe by Michael Jones
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A nice summer read that adds to the historical record surrounding WWII. In much of the history written we seem to stop with the death of Hitler by suicide in the bunker, and a pivot to the war in the Pacific. The reality is that the war in Europe went on for another week plus after Hitler’s death, with the so called Donitz government in Germany looking to exploit potential divisions in the Allied camp to keep some semblance of Nazi rule alive in Germany.

As much as I have read on WWII I discovered my own ignorance of Donitz, who I had incorrectly perceived as more military than Nazi. Jones exposes that fallacy, with Donitz shown to be a loyal disciple of Hitler, even after Hitler’s death. Jones delves slightly into the pre-Hitler death period, which dealt with Hitler and Goebbels hopes of salvation through a schism between Soviet Russia, and Great Britain and the U.S. Even in his debilitated condition Hitler had some rudimentary political instincts that could perceive the obvious, but his massive crimes against humanity foreclosed any hope of a political deal that could sever the western allies from the Soviet Union. This book deals with some of the military actions taken by the allies, the political situation as the Red Army closed in on Czechoslovakia and Poland, and the Donitz attempt to ensure German surrender of military units to the western allies rather than to the Red Army.

The book shows General Dwight Eisenhower as a true man of honor in terms of his adherence to agreements reached amongst the allies, making difficult decisions to halt in place along pre-agreed lines of demarcation, even when such decisions were opposed by those who wanted to chip away at territory that would be grabbed by the Red Army. Eisenhower realized the fragile nature of the alliance, and took the necessary steps to assuage his suspicious Russian allies.

The outline of the cold war in Europe, and the genesis of the term “Iron Curtain” is covered, and brings some good historical perspective. The last ten days of the war in Europe laid the groundwork for a long “cold war” between west and east, as incompatible visions of what should occur post war hardened into a situation that brought us close to war on several occasions. Jones covers a very important period of history that has been under-reported, and brings some of the continuing horrors of WWII, post Hitler, to light.

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The Seabrook New Hampshire Water Restriction Ordinance


I have attached the Seabrook Water Restriction ordinance passed by the Board of Selectmen on July 7, 2016. (The text is also below)

The ordinance was necessitated by severe drought conditions, as well as by a winter that did not fully replenish our well system. If you have any questions or concerns please call the Seabrook Water Department at 603-474-9921 or the Town Managers office at 603-474-3252.

This post has been amended on Monday July 11, 2016, as the Board of Selectmen, in Special Session, further amended the water restriction ordinance by allowing the full watering of gardens on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday, between the hours of 7:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. The Board also specifically excluded the non-commercial washing of cars. Those changes are reflected below.

Emergency Water Ban Ordinance

Notice is hereby given that the Seabrook Board of Selectmen, in their capacity as the Board of Water Commissioners, intends to formally adopt the following emergency ordinance regulating the excessive use of water at its meeting on July 7,2016 pursuant to the powers granted in Seabrook’s Municipal Water System Ordinance (the “Ordinance”), the Seabrook Home Rule Charter and the Revised Statutes of the State of New Hampshire, as amended:

WHEREAS, there exists in the Town of Seabrook (the “Town”) drought conditions which have created a critical situation for the water systems ability to meet peak summer demand; and

WHEREAS, an adequate supply of water is necessary for the public health and safety; and

WHEREAS, the Town’s Board of Water Commissioners are charged with promoting the implementation of prudent and effective water conservation measures, protecting the health and safety of consumers, protecting the Town’s source waters and safeguarding the public water supply; and

WHEREAS, under the current drought conditions, restrictions on the use of Town water for secondary purposes are necessary to protect the public health, safety and welfare;

THEREFORE, be it enacted pursuant to Section 6:5 of the Ordinance “Curtailment of Use”:


1. The use of Town water in excess of current uses and amounts by persons, firms, or corporations is hereby prohibited, and the use of Town water outside of the primary domicile or place of business other than for drinking, cooking, and hygienic reasons is prohibited. Specifically prohibited is the filling of swimming or wading pools, the non-commercial washing of cars, the watering of lawns, trees, shrubbery, or gardens (except gardens operated for commercial purposes) and the utilization of irrigation systems in that use. The ordinance allows, as an exception, the use of “water buckets” only to provide water for non-commercial gardens, except on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday, when normal watering will be allowed (for vegetable gardens only) between the hours of 7:30 p.m. through 8:30 p.m. Exception is also made for water used in the maintenance of livestock.
2. Upon notification of a violation of this ordinance the Seabrook Water Department shall have the authority to investigate the alleged violation and reserves the authority to terminate water service, pursuant to Sections 6.7 and 6.8 of the Ordinance, in the event that a violation is found to have occurred. Said water supply will remain turned off until the Water Department or Board of Water Commissioners are satisfied that the violation will not continue or recur.
3. The Board of Water Commissioners reserves the right to pursue additional legal action against violators of this ordinance to include injunctive relief, a cease and desist order, civil penalties, and criminal prosecution pursuant to Sections 12.10 – 12.12 of the Ordinance, where it is deemed appropriate.
4. There shall be, in addition to any other penalties provided by law a fine of One Hundred Dollars ($100) for each separate violation of this ordinance.
5. This ordinance shall be effective until October 1, 2016 or as may be determined by the Board of Water Commissioners in consultation with the Water Superintendent.
6. If any provisions of this ordinance or any portion of such provision or the application thereof to any person or circumstance is held invalid, the remainder of the ordinance and the remainder of such provision and the application thereof to other persons and circumstances shall not be affected thereby.



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The Electoral Map-2016

With the two major Party conventions coming up I thought it was time to get out the first electoral map of the 2016 season. Important to note: I am a Democrat, but I will call them as I see them on this map. What I put up is what I think will happen, not what I want to happen. Some folks have difficulty with that concept but I can assure you that I do not. So let us look at the map.

Much of the talk coming into this cycle deals with the Democratic “Blue Wall”, which consists of the states that have voted Democratic for six consecutive Presidential elections:

 California (55), Connecticut (7), Delaware (3), Hawaii (4), Illinois (20), Maine (4), Maryland (10), Massachusetts (11), Michigan (16), Minnesota (10), New Jersey (14), New York (29), Oregon (7), Pennsylvania (20), Rhode Island (4), Vermont (3), Washington (12), Washington D.C. (3), Wisconsin (10). That is a staggering 242 electoral votes, and presents a major challenge for any GOP nominee. Trump has stated that he will be able to pry open that “Blue Wall” by appealing to disaffected working class Democrats and broadening the electoral appeal of the GOP. Although the Trump campaign has stated their belief that they could put some of those states into play they have not been entirely focused into areas where they could arguably do so. (Mentioning that New York, California, Washington State, Oregon or New Jersey might be in play for the GOP is delusional.) I would have to believe that political pros would look at that theory as having potential in Ohio, Wisconsin, Michigan, and PA.

Which “blue wall” states have I assigned to “undecided” or to the GOP? I have assigned only PA into the undecided column, with 20 electoral college votes at stake. I have also placed one Maine Congressional District into the “undecided” column (3 votes for statewide winner, with potential for statewide loser to pick up one vote by winning one of the two Congressional Districts.)  The likely argument from from those that hope to break that wall? My assignment of Michigan and Wisconsin into the blue column, and possibly the inclusion of North Carolina into the undecided column.  As we speak the available polling just does not justify moving them, but if the Trump theory proves true maybe they will move in the months to come.

So how does Trump win with this map? I think North Carolina is still “lean Trump,” so I think he needs to run the available table by winning Ohio, PA, North Carolina, and FLA. That is, in my view, an uphill fight. FLA in particular seems to be slipping away from the GOP, with the Trump problem with Hispanic voters making victory there for Trump difficult.

What about Clinton? Her path to victory appears to have more potential by virtue of this map. I count Colorado and Nevada as likely Clinton, although available data makes me reluctant to push them blue just yet. If Clinton simply wins PA and FLA under this scenario  she is over the top. Under those conditions she could lose Ohio, North Carolina, Virginia, Nevada, and Colorado and still win comfortably.

What about one scenario that is not on the map? If Clinton wins PA, FLA, VA, CO, and NV she could lose Ohio, Michigan, and Wisconsin and still win the election.  It is hard for me to see how Trump wins without winning FLA.

So there is my first electoral map. I will make changes  every couple of weeks or so. I have issued a challenge to WCAP Radio host Teddy Panos to produce a map and let me post it on the blog, with a slight wager for the benefit of charity to see who does better. Ground rules:

Wager will be based on a final map, due by November 1:
If both pick the same candidate to win whoever picks the higher amount of states correctly wins.

In the event of tie both contribute the agreed upon amount to charities of their choice.

Why not wait until November 1? I guess that might make sense if we were going to stop talking about the election until November 1, but with all this talk going on about who is going to win let us see, for those predicting victory for one or the other, how that victory will occur. We could certainly use some of that charity money up this way, so I hope Teddy takes up the challenge, and shows us the Trump Victory map.

Click the map to create your own at
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All the Way- LBJ and the Civil Rights Act of 1964

HBO has recently released a version of “All the Way,” the movie version of the Broadway play with Bryan Cranston, who also starred in the movie. Cranston was superb in both, bringing Lyndon Baines Johnson to life in a fascinating look at the events that brought us the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. As you might expect the movie was able to deal with the events in more detail. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was signed by President Johnson on July 2, 1964 and has been the subject, within the past few years, of much discussion about what the real role of L.B.J. was in securing that passage. The Play, and the HBO movie, show LBJ’s role as critical. The best perspective, in my view, comes from LBJ biographer Robert Caro, who has written four books on LBJ, including the one that covered the period after the assassination of President Kennedy, and the assumption of power by LBJ. The book “The Years of Lyndon Johnson: The Passage of Power” gives us a detailed look at Johnson’s masterful handling of the powers of the Presidency, and more specifically the passage of the Kennedy legislative program, including the Kennedy filed Civil Rights bill.

Johnson’s handling of the immediate problems of the legislative gridlock that had not only bottled up the Civil Rights bill, but the Kennedy tax cut bill, all of the appropriations bills, along with the development of a budget due in a matter of weeks, showed, through Caro’s masterful telling, how Johnson was a legislative master with no peer. The lessons taken from this period, in light of the gridlock in Washington, have been much discussed with the LBJ revival. What happened, and what about those lessons?

Johnson’s great talent lay not just in static vote counting, but in realizing what connection those votes had to each other, and how those connections could be leveraged to achieve legislative success. As he approached the problem facing the Kennedy men Johnson realized a very fundamental error that had been made by them. The Kennedy team, against prior advice from Johnson, had filed the Civil Rights legislation while other major legislative efforts were underway. (Primarily the tax cut legislation, but the appropriation bills were languishing, and other key legislation.) Johnson recognized that the “legislative traffic” would be used by that other master of legislative  strategy Senator Richard Russell to ultimately derail the Civil Rights bill by holding all other legislative bills hostage. Caro explains Johnson’s thoughts:

“He tried to explain to Sorensen how the Senate works: that when the time came for the vote on cloture, you weren’t going to have some of the votes you had been promised, because senators who wanted civil rights also wanted—needed, had to have—dams, contracts, public works projects for their states, and those projects required authorization by the different Senate committees involved, and nine of the sixteen committees (and almost all of the important ones) were chaired by southerners or by allies they could count on. And then, should the authorizations be passed, the projects would require appropriations, the approval of the actual funding for them, and the Appropriations Committee was stacked deep with southerners and their allies—who took their orders from Richard Russell. Or senators needed to have other, non–public works legislation vital to their states, and such legislation often faced other, but also southern-controlled, congressional barriers.”

The LBJ respect for Richard Russell, Senator from Georgia and leader of the southern bloc, and his knowledge of how Russell operated, is evident. It was a critical part of the ultimate success of this legislative effort. LBJ explained to Katherine Graham why the timing of the Civil Rights Bill was so important: From Caro:

“We’re going to have to do it now,” he told Katharine Graham in another call. “If we don’t, they’re going to start quitting here about the eighteenth of December, and they’ll come back about the eighteenth of January. Then they’ll have hearings in the Rules Committee until about the middle of March. And then they’ll pass the bill and it will get over [to the Senate], and Dick Russell will say it’s Easter and Lincoln’s Birthday, and by the time he gets them [the civil rights bill], he will screw them to death, because he is so much smarter than they are.”

So LBJ was faced with a legislative effort to stall ALL of the major Kennedy bills, with the goal of once again beating back major civil rights legislation. LBJ was faced with:

1) Getting the bill released onto the House floor, as it was bottled up in the Rules Committee. While it could not stay bottled up forever that was not necessary. It just needed to stay bottled up long enough to make the legislative calendar more conducive for Richard Russell in the Senate.

2) Getting the Kennedy tax cut legislation released by the Senate Finance Committee and its powerful Chairman Harry Byrd. Getting to Byrd was a nearly impossible task, and that task could never be achieved by brute force or threats. (As related by Robert Caro in the attached video the Kennedy people asked LBJ why they could not just go around Harry Byrd in Committee; Johnson answered “because Harry Byrd has 9 votes”(out of 17); when asked how he knew that Johnson replied “because Harry Byrd ALWAYS has 9 votes”) The price for Byrd’s support? Bringing in the budget below $100 billion. With little time left, and the budget  nearly complete, the vastly “trimmed” budget stood at $102.5 billion. LBJ  would have to impose the “Johnson” treatment on recalcitrant Cabinet secretaries to bring that number in below $100 billion.

3) Mastermind the overcoming of the southern filibuster on the Civil Rights Bill. Cloture in 1964 required 67 votes, not the 60 needed today.

LBJ managed to bring in a budget of $97.9 billion, cutting a deal with Byrd that freed the Kennedy tax cut bill from almost certain death. Obstructions still sprang up within the Finance Committee, but LBJ now had Byrd there to help clear them away. Byrd was co-opted, not by threats, but by the fawning and total attention paid to him by LBJ. The President recognized that the power of Harry Byrd could not be overcome, and paid the political cost of progress. His actions on this bill prevented Richard Russell from holding the bill hostage to the Civil Rights Bill. He not only did it, but did it on a nearly impossible calendar.

Finally Johnson, in his grasp of the tally, recognized that in order to break the Richard Russell filibuster he was going to need Republican votes. He whipped floor manager Hubert Humphrey relentlessly on tactics and strategy. From Caro:

“Summoning Humphrey to the Oval Office, Johnson told him, Humphrey was to recall, that “You have this great opportunity now, Hubert, but you liberals will never deliver. You don’t know the rules of the Senate, and your liberal friends will be off making speeches when they ought to be present.” “I would have been outraged if he hadn’t been basically right and historically accurate,” Humphrey was to say. And, he was to say, Johnson was being accurate about him, too. “He had sized me up. He knew very well that I would say, ‘Damn you, I’ll show you.’ ” And then “having made his point he shifted the conversation and more quietly and equally firmly he promised he would back me to the hilt. As I left, he stood and moved towards me with his towering intensity: ‘Call me whenever there’s trouble or anything you want me to do.’  “He knew just how to get to me,”

LBJ did indeed, in his tough way, know how to motivate people. And he pushed Humphrey on the issue of getting to Everett Dirksen, the Republican Senate Leader. From Caro:

“Boy, that was right,” Lyndon Johnson said in a phone call afterwards, as Humphrey would recall. “You’re doing just right now. You just keep at that.… You get in there to see Dirksen! You drink with Dirksen! You talk to Dirksen! You listen to Dirksen!”

When the filibuster was broken the tally showed that without Dirksen it never would have happened:

“The cloture motion was passed, by a 71–29 vote, on June 10, after a filibuster of fifty-seven days that was the longest in Senate history. Twenty-three Democrats voted against that motion; forty-four votes from the Democratic side was all it got. But, thanks to Dirksen, twenty-seven Republicans voted for it; only six, including Goldwater, remained opposed. There ensued another series of floor fights over proposed amendments to the bill, before its passage, 73 to 27, came on June 19. Thousands of people crowded around the Senate wing of the Capitol, cheering and applauding senators as they came out. When Humphrey emerged three hours later, they were still waiting to cheer him.”

The historical record is pretty clear on the outsized role played by LBJ in the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Without his leadership, and his strategic brilliance, it is likely that Senator Richard Brevard Russell would have indeed “screwed them to death” and sustained the filibuster. Johnson’s mastery extended to seeing how ALL the legislative pieces fit together like a jigsaw puzzle, and taking the steps necessary to make sure that puzzle was constructed properly. His friend, patron, and foe Richard Russell summed it up for a colleague: From Caro:

“You know,” Russell said, “we could have beaten John Kennedy on civil rights, but not Lyndon Johnson.” There was a pause. A man was perhaps contemplating the end of a way of life he cherished. He was perhaps contemplating the fact that he had played a large role—perhaps the largest role—in raising to power the man who was going to end that way of life. But when, a moment later, Richard Russell spoke again, it was only to repeat the remark. “We could have beaten Kennedy on civil rights, but we can’t Lyndon.”

An earlier Caro book on LBJ was titled “Master of the Senate,” and LBJ, despite a few years in the Vice Presidency, showed through this process that he was indeed still “The Master”

The lessons of vote counting, and whether todays pols can learn from Johnson, for another day.

The Atlantic story on “How LBJ saved the Civil Rights Act” is here. 

All the Way

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The Pension Problem in the States

JP Morgan took a look, back in May, at some metrics with regards to state pension and OPEB liabilities, called “ARC and the Covenants 2.0.” An interesting exercise, with some key data across all 50 states, with a highlight on the 6 states with some major pension and OPEB funding problems. Those six states? Illinois, as expected, stands at the top, followed by New Jersey, Connecticut, Hawaii, Kentucky, and Massachusetts. The study looks at the underfunded amount for each state, and gives some methodology by which each State could close the gap on a 30 year amortization schedule (assuming 6% return.) The potential solutions, including tax increases, non pension (OPEB) spending cuts, and increased employee contributions, are difficult, especially with the ratios that exist in the top 4 states. Hawaii and Massachusetts show numbers that could be managed (spending cuts vs tax increases) but that are still politically unpalatable. JP Morgan did not look at municipalities as part of this exercise. With the political problems attendant to facing this problem head on it is not surprising that in some states the problem continues to grow. When municipal liabilities are factored in, especially OPEB, the story likely gets much worse.

ARC and Covenants

The Boston Globe story that highlights the issues put forward by the study.

OPEB is “Other Post Employment Benefits”
ARC is “Annual Required Contribution”

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Review of Rick Perlstein’s “The Invisible Bridge”

The Invisible Bridge: The Fall of Nixon and the Rise of ReaganThe Invisible Bridge: The Fall of Nixon and the Rise of Reagan by Rick Perlstein
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Perlstein’s effort, the third installment of his series, is an informative and insightful look at the fall of Nixon, as well as the incipient rise of Ronald Reagan. Perlstein manages to gives us that look without just focusing on politics, but including the social issues that dominated the times, and weaving those events into his narrative. That might not be attractive to all, but I liked it, as it brings a fuller picture of what was on the minds of voters as political events unfolded. How political figures leverage those events to make their cases is often times forgotten when we look at the relative success (or failures) of the politicians of the day.

As with both of the prior books there are references that show that some of our politics have not changed much over the years. Are the immigration debates new? I don’t think so.

“President Ford implored, “We can afford to be generous to refugees” as “a matter of principle.” Mayor Daley of Chicago responded, “Charity begins at home.” The Seattle City Council voted seven to one against a pro-settlement resolution. California governor Jerry Brown said Congress’s refugee bill should be amended with a “jobs for Americans first” pledge. Explained Harvard sociologist David Riesman, “The national mood is poisonous and dangerous and this is one symptom—striking out at helpless refugees whose number is infinitesimal.”

Perlstein takes ground on Nixon that we have been over before, but it fits this story. The story evolves into the massive Ford/Reagan battle for the GOP nomination in 1976, with great detail on how that overall race developed. We even get a good peek at the rise of Jimmy Carter on the Democratic side. Perlstein focuses heavily on the GOP, and gives some great insight on how Ronald Reagan had superior political instincts, rejecting the standard advice given by advisors to great, and positive effect. (Reagan never condemned Nixon on Watergate when most of his own people wished he would)

We all know how that Ford/Reagan nomination battle ended, and that is where Perlstein ends this story. Reagan’s loss brought out the Reagan naysayers, who underestimated his political appeal from the very start. After the loss many wrote him off, but his story was just beginning. Perlstein gives, to me, an unvarnished view of how Reagan managed to achieve his success, even in defeat. He gently mocks the left for not understanding Reagan’s appeal, while showing us the “tricks” of Reagan’s trade.

As with the other two books I give this one high ratings, and enjoyed reading it very much. It is over 800 pages so it will not be for everyone, but for those interested in this era it is a great read!

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