Drawing the Line at the Big Ditch: The Panama Canal Treaties and the Rise of the Right

Adam Clymer, Author . Univ. Press of Kansas $29.95 (286p) ISBN 978-0-7006-1582-7

Former New York Times Washington correspondent Clymer (Edward M. Kennedy ) argues in this straightforward, able account that Jimmy Carter’s loss in the 1980 presidential election can largely be attributed to his widely unpopular negotiations to return the Panama Canal to Panama. America was demoralized after Vietnam, and many citizens were opposed to giving up the canal, long a symbol of American progress and power. Conservatives seized on the issue. As early as 1975, Reagan condemned returning the canal as a sign of American weakness, declaring with his characteristic simple directness: “we bought it, we paid for it, we built it and we intend to keep it.” Clymer also examines several Senate races in which incumbents who had voted to give up the canal were unseated by right-wingers. Although Clymer acknowledges that many forces contributed to the rise of the Right, his relentless focus on the canal is tendentious at times. Still, Clymer makes an innovative contribution to the growing literature that seeks to explain how conservatism triumphed after Goldwater. 20 photos. (Mar.)

Reviewed on: 01/07/2008
Release date: 03/01/2008
Genre: Nonfiction
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