In this excerpt from Alternet.org, Robert Scheer lays out how we wound up in our current political cesspool -- even if we have to swallow hard to accept that Nixon got anything right. For the entire interview with Onnesha Roychoudhuri go to AlterNet
Robert Scheer spent over 30 years interviewing American presidents and candidates since Nixon, but it was only in retrospect that he discovered a disturbing pattern. Scheer's new book Playing President: My Close Encounters with Nixon, Carter, Bush I, Reagan and Clinton - and How They Did Not Prepare Me for George W. Bush explores the crippling effects the campaign process had on every candidate he interviewed - and how our presidents have become increasingly out of touch with American voters.
As one of the last print journalists to spend extended periods of time with candidates, Scheer's close examination of our political process, and how the media covers it, points to the flaws that led to the election of George W. Bush. AlterNet spoke with Scheer about what we got right, what we got wrong, and why in the face of such an unpopular president, we still find ourselves "drowning in lesser evildom."
Onnesha Roychoudhuri: How did the idea for this book come about?
Robert Scheer: I teach at USC, and it's obvious to anyone who teaches college students that they don't cover much modern history and certainly not the modern presidency. I start every term in my Media and Society class by showing Oliver Stone's "Nixon," and then I bring in John Dean.
They've never heard of John Dean, they barely know what Watergate was about, and by the end of three hours, they seem quite excited and recognize its importance. This book is in a way an attempt to collect some of the interviews and profiles with a new analysis at the beginning of each - a primer on the American presidency from Nixon to the present.
The big idea that came out of rereading all the stuff that I had done over the years was the process of running for president - that's where the "Playing President" title comes in. The process itself is so debilitating, so controlling, that it really doesn't matter who these guys are or what they start out with.
Even with the best of intentions, even when they're very smart and knowledgeable - as opposed to George W., who is neither - it doesn't seem to matter. All they are proving is their ability to manipulate, to think superficially, and to exploit national security issues rather than deal with them.
See whole article at www.http://alternet.org/mediaculture/35568/