One of Perlstein’s enduring themes is that when it comes to the steady ascent of the conservative movement, contemporaneous journalists and Democratic and Republican elites alike are the last to figure out what is going on. He’s a connoisseur of wrong calls, many of them premature obituaries for the right, from now all-but-forgotten opinion titans of the day (Reston, Kraft, Alsop, Sidey, Evans and Novak). “Before the Storm” ended with Arthur Schlesinger Jr.'s triumphalist judgment that the lopsided 1964 election results presaged Democratic victories for the foreseeable future. At the conclusion of “The Invisible Bridge” — which closes with Ford’s narrow Pyrrhic victory over the Reagan insurgency at the 1976 Kansas City convention — Perlstein turns to The New York Times for the epitaph. “At 65 years of age,” it said, Reagan was “too old to consider seriously another run at the presidency.”Current conventional punditry holds that the radical right wing "Tea Party" movement is destroying the viability of the Republican party. Conventional punditry is historically pretty wrong about these things.
Sunday, August 03, 2014
This is from Frank Rich's review of Rick Perlstein's new volume in his chronicle of the 20th Century rise of the American conservative movement.