Report of the County Chairman Author:James A. Michener It's Michener's revealing story of the people who elected John F. Kennedy. It's homey as apple pie, a wonderful book that takes you right into the heart of this country of ours, introduces you to new friends -- the truck drivers, politicians, housewives, grocers, salesmen, mechanics who worked for Kennedy. It reads like a novel, holds you breath... more »less with suspense as Michener tells you how he and his friends worked, struggled, cried, prayed and cheered for John F. Kennedy.« less
Charles H. reviewed Report of the County Chairman on
Reading Michener's account of his stint as a county chairman of the 1960 Elect John F. Kennedy Campaign in Pennsylvania shows how politics has changed over the years .... and how it has remained the same.
Kennedy faced fierce opposition from both Republicans and Democrats because he was Catholic. He finally explicitly affirmed his staunch support of the principle of the separation of church and state. Michener devotes an entire chapter, and more, to the controversy.
If we fast forward to the 2012 Presidential race we find a leading Republic contender, Santorum, trumpeting his own Catholic faith and renouncing Kennedy's words in no uncertain terms, only to see his popular support plummet shortly afterwards.
Michener is very candid about the ways in which the party in power can undercut the efforts of the opposition. Michener's county was rural and heavily Republican, but Democrats were in control statewide, and this came in very handy in at least a couple of situations. Republicans, on the other hand, were able to partially neutralize the growing Democratic influence in the newly created Levittown suburban community by carving it into four different political units.
Michener's book is a still-relevant case history of presidential politics in action at the local level. It also recounts a barnstorming excursion into a number of other heavily Republican states, so the reader learns much about national Presidential campaigning as well.
The book introduces colorful characters, reveals the dynamics of political discourse in America, and illuminates the social and psychological forces in play which ultimately determined the outcome of the election.