Sunday, January 6, 2008
My life as a campaign nut
In case anyone wonders why there is so much on this (new) blog about the 2008 race, a little personal background. Perhaps my earliest childhood memory is marching around in front of my house as a 4-year-old in 1952 with an "I Like Ike" sign. In 1960, I was chief debater at my school for Nixon -- and was totally deflated afterward when the class voted something like 22-3 for JFK, pretty much along religious lines. In 1968 I headed my college's Gene McCarthy crusade -- and that summer went to Chicago for the infamous convention where I was in the crowd outside the Hilton just after the police riot.
Skipping over a couple of decades, I wrote two fairly well-known books for Random House about legendary California races: "The Campaign of the Century," about Upton Sinclair's near-victory as leftwing Democrat in the 1934 governor's battle and the birth of media politics (it became a PBS film), and "Tricky Dick and the Pink Lady" about, what else, the Nixon/Helen Gahagan Douglas faceoff for the 1950 U.S. Senate seat. I will always believe that I helped elect John Hall (who used to write for me when I was at Crawdaddy in the 1970s) to Congress in 2006 when I wrote the first major piece about him anywhere for E&P, widely linked, which led to his "Colbert bump." But enough about me.
Clip from that PBS film, from "The Great Depression" series, on the Sinclair campaign based on my book: