The Very Visible Bridge
My fave historian is sitting on top of the world these days.
Rick Perlstein has been chronicling the rise of the Right in two previous well-received books, Before the Storm and Nixonland. Now, his latest entry in the series, The Invisible Bridge, is earning kudos and brickbats left and right (well, kudos from the Left and brickbats from a very few corners on the Right, natch.)
Rick Perlstein Laughs At Himself
The New York Times Book Review featured him on its front page this past Sunday. Today he’ll appear on Terry Gross’s Fresh Air program on local NPR affiliate WFIU. The media blitz doesn’t stop there. Perlstein will be on MSNBC’s Morning Joe tomorrow and Rachel Maddow’s gabfest Friday.
The Invisible Bridge covers the years from Richard Nixon’s resignation to the ascendance of Ronald Reagan at the 1976 Republican National Convention. History indicates that the GOP went with the wrong guy that year. President-by-Chance Gerald Ford was nominated to run against squeaky-clean Georgian Jimmy Carter. After years of Watergate, the American public was sick and tired of Nixon and anything attached to him. Ford, although himself above reproach, was Nixon’s hand-picked VP, selected to replace the disgraced Spiro Agnew. Many experts believe Ford was tabbed because Nixon was confident he’d pardon the future ex-Prez — and the former Michigan congressman did just that.
Jimmy Carter (l) & Gerald Ford
Ford ran a lackluster campaign against Carter. The argument can be made that the Dem candidate was going to win that year no matter who he was or who his opponent would be. Still, many in the GOP swooned over Ronald Reagan in the run-up to the convention and are convinced he’d have been able to beat the Democratic candidate.
I’m eager to get my hands on Perlstein’s new book. It arrives today at the Book Corner. For my money, you can’t read a better history of the 1960s and early ’70s than Nixonland. Many of my conservative friends think it’s an even-handed look at a a nine-year period in which this country very nearly tumbled into a second Civil War. If Perlstein’s take is half as good on Saint Ronald, I’ll be happy.
Funny thing is, there’ve been precious few balanced and sober looks at the rise and ascension into heaven of the greatest leader any country in the history of the world has ever had. Other than fawning hagiographies penned by Reagan insiders and apologists for the Right or demonizing screeds from those on the Left, the only book worth reading thus far on RWR has been Sean Wilentz’s The Age of Reagan.
Here’s hoping Perlstein’s effort doubles that list.
Speaking of disgraced public officials, former Monroe County Auditor Amy Gerstman’s future hangs in the balance these days. Yesterday in an Owen County courtroom, the special prosecutor and Gerstman’s lawyer had their plea agreement rejected by Judge Lori Quillen.
Acc’d’g to the Herald Times (paywall), Quillen told the lawyers the agreement wasn’t hard enough on Gerstman. My guess is special prosecutor Barry Brown okayed a deal wherein Gertsman’s repayment of the dough she skimmed from the County via unauthorized credit card usage as well as, probably, some community service would do the trick. Quillen just might want Gerstman to do some hard time.
I’m all for the hard time idea, especially because Gerstman was supposed to be the watchdog of the county’s cash.
Gannett Co., owner of the Indy Star, USA Today and other newspapers, is spinning off its print business from its radio and TV holdings to create two separate companies.
The media giant sez it’s doing so to “create two focused companies with increased opportunities to grow organically.” Don’t be taken in by PR bullshit. Gannett’s divorcing its foot-in-the-grave newspaper biz from its more vital electronic and digital ops just so the latter can fly without being dragged down by the former’s losses.
Soon To Be History Itself
Gannett at the same time announced a $1.8 billion cop of the shares of Cars.com it doesn’t already own, further doubling down on its new media stake.
USA Today is Gannett’s big dog in the print world, although insiders say the co. is hot to transform the paper into a purely digital news outlet sooner rather than later. USA Today‘s cover price not long ago jumped to $2.00, which is way too much to pay for any rag that isn’t the New York Times or the Wall Street Journal. I get the feeling Gannett, in upping the price, wants to wean readers off paper.
You wanna know how valuable newspaper holdings are? Gannett is giving its print properties aways to its shareholders. No sentient being these days is willing to plunk down real money for newspapers.
The end of an era is here but don’t worry, it’s not the end of the world.