Presidential Historian Comes Clean!
When better than election season to recall the words of a man who helped create the mystique of the modern American presidency. Theodore White wrote four book series The Making of the President covering the elections of 1960, 1964, 1968 and 1972. He also propagated the Camelot myth of the Kennedy presidency.
But what did White really think of the political circuses and the Establishment? He wrote a friend in 1960:
“… it is all fraudulent, all of it, everywhere, up and down, East and West. The movies, radio and state and books and TV — all of them are fraudulent; and the foundations and universities and scholars, they are all fraudulent too; and the executives and the financiers … and the Commissars and the Krushchevs and the Mao Tze-tungs, they are fraudulent equally; it is all a great game; and there are two dangers in this great game: first, the fraudulent people come to believe their own lies, they come to have faith in their fraud; and second, underneath it all, because people are fundamentally good, they come to realize that we live in lies and the people get angrier and angrier and they may explode.
“The scenery of politics is ridiculous, absolutely ridiculous. Yet I must report all this as serious. This is the strain on me. That I must be serious, and I must exhaust myself trying to find out what is true and what is fraud and yet, even after I know, I must take them both seriously and write of them both as if I did not know the true distinctions between them.”