Monday, October 8, 2012

Kevin Mattson's "Just Plain Dick"

Kevin Mattson is Connor Study Professor of Contemporary History at Ohio University and serves as a faculty associate of the Contemporary History Institute. His work explores the broad intersections between ideas and politics in 20th century America. He is author of numerous books, including "What the Heck Are You Up To, Mr. President?": Jimmy Carter, America's "Malaise," and the Speech that Should Have Changed the Country.

Mattson applied the “Page 99 Test” to his latest book, Just Plain Dick: Richard Nixon's Checkers Speech and the "Rocking, Socking" Election of 1952, and reported the following:
Ah yes, the 99 test. It’s a fine one, especially for Just Plain Dick. On page 99, Richard Nixon is making an appearance on Meet the Press. He’s getting queries from journalists about what he means by “liberating” people enslaved by Soviet totalitarianism. Perhaps he means going to war with the Soviet Union? Perhaps he means the aggressive type of suggestions that General Douglas MacArthur talked about? Richard Nixon starts stepping back some of his more heated rhetoric. He says, no, not open warfare. He wants “means other than force.” Things like “psychological warfare.” His response, intended to calm viewers, winds up sounding creepy, even a tad mysterious. And then, soon after fielding this sort of question, right there at the bottom of page 99 in the book, the lights are turned off on the set of Meet the Press, and Richard Nixon gets the question that prompts the crisis the book centers around. A columnist named Peter Edson asks Richard Nixon about a “’fund’ we hear about.” It sounds like mysterious donors are giving you money to up your salary. Nixon starts trying to explain to Edson some of the details, but now the crisis is out of the bag.
Learn more about the book and author at Kevin Mattson's website and blog.

The Page 99 Test: 'What the Heck Are You Up To, Mr. President?'.

--Marshal Zeringue