POWER PLAYS: 20 Top Winning (and Losing) Strategies of History's Greatest Political Leaders

Dick Morris, Author . HarperCollins/ReganBooks $25.95 (384p) ISBN 978-0-06-000443-9

Aspiring politicians who can't afford to hire high-priced campaign consultants could do a lot worse than to buy this election manual from former Clinton political guru Morris (Behind the Oval Office). He offers 20 case studies illustrating how history's greatest politicians sealed their fate by following—or ignoring—six classic Morris rules: "Triangulate," "Divide and Conquer," "Reform Your Own Party," etc. These strategies work, Morris maintains, regardless of party affiliation or ideological bent. For example, Morris shows how both Bill Clinton (on welfare) and George W. Bush (on education) managed to trounce the opposition by co-opting its core issues—a classic "triangulation" maneuver. In contrast, Morris says, both Woodrow Wilson and Barry Goldwater failed to provide a convincing explanation as to why their fringe ideas (the League of Nations and passionate anticommunism, respectively) were right for America. This is quintessential Morris ideology: the content is less important than the approach. Ronald Reagan, in this understanding, won the White House because he was able to "Stand on Principle" and present a clear, consistent description of who he was and what he stood for. Al Gore lost because he failed at the same task. Obviously, such a reductive analysis oversimplifies an extraordinarily complicated process. Morris's arguments are broadly convincing, however, and work well in the context of a "beginner's manual" on political strategy, despite some occasionally spooky language—Reagan's move toward social conservatism in the 1960s, Morris writes, was like an "established corporation launching a new product line." (Apr.)

Forecast:Now a New York Post columnist and a regular on the Fox News Channel, Morris has a built-in audience. Still, this probably won't be a bestseller like his look at the Clinton presidency.

Reviewed on: 04/01/2002
Release date: 04/01/2002
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 384 pages - 978-0-06-000444-6
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