People Staff
October 20, 1980 12:00 PM

by Sidney Blumenthal

One conclusion to be drawn from this book seems demoralizingly evident: American politicians have become power seekers obsessed not with any ideal but with winning elections; almost every action is taken with an eye on the opinion polls. Blumenthal, whose work has appeared in Boston’s alternative weekly, The Real Paper, approaches the issue by profiling media manipulators. He writes about Ronald Reagan’s adviser, Stuart Spencer, and John Anderson’s man, David Garth, the arrogant New Yorker previously employed by John Lindsay, Hugh Carey and, unsuccessfully, by Bess Myerson in New York’s Democratic senatorial primary. Blumenthal’s most alarming subject, though, is Jimmy Carter’s soothsayer, Pat Caddell. His specialty—constant polling to learn what voters feel alienated about—leads only to unprincipled, defensive decision making, the author says. The line from a 1976 Caddell memo to his presidential client is chilling: “Too many good people have been defeated because they tried to substitute substance for style.” (Beacon, $12.95)

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