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Monday, December 5, 2011

David Gergen quotes from Ronald Reagan book to cover Mitt Romney campaign

Gergen’s article, “Mitt Romney – Where’s the rest of him?,” all but clones the title of Ronald Reagan’s autobiography, “Where’s the Rest of Me?,” published in 1965.  The title was taken from what was considered his best movie, Kings Row, where a sadistic surgeon amputated both his legs.  Reagan wakes up from the anesthesia and says, “Where’s the rest of me?, referring to his lost limbs.  In his book it pertained to the fact that he didn’t consider himself whole until converting from a liberal to a conservative.

I know.  I was there.  My job as District Manager for then Meredith Publishing Co., whose subsidiary, Duell Sloan & Pearce, published the title, was to assist in the promotion and publicity of the book in the Southern California area.  Our New York office set up an autographing for Reagan in Tustin, CA, in the middle of Orange County, a bastion of extreme right-wing politics.  The man arrived, followed shortly by his daughter, Maureen, and the book signings began.

As a professed liberal then—that’s before we became progressives—I kept my distance from most of the weird looking minglers.  However, Maureen was approached by a guy who demanded her attention for some time, and I could tell there was consternation on her face.  Finally, once she had shed her ear bender, she rushed over to me and said, “We have to get him out of here,” meaning her father.  Apparently her talker was a John Bircher and was accusing everyone in government of being a communist, plus more.



I finally convinced her it would cause more uproar to just yank him out of the autographing than to let it run its course, then make sure it never happened again.  She finally agreed and I let our New York Office know to keep me in the loop on any future plans for promotional events.  But most of the Southern California publicity was set up by me using my contacts set up over the years.  One such incident was an interview on the Bob Crane radio talk show.  Crane would go on to star in Hogan’s Heroes.

I had just picked up Reagan from his home in the Pacific Palisades and we were now on our way through the CBS parking lot in Hollywood.  He apparently stepped on some gum and stopped to do something about it.  Taking a piece of paper out of his pocket, and standing with his leg bent to access the bottom of his shoe, he placed the paper over the gum, and we continued walking.  He looked at me after a few seconds and said, “Now you see what I did?  By the time we get to the studio, the paper will be gone and so will the gum.”

I have never forgotten that because it reflected a down-to-earth practical person that, with all his celebrity baggage, could easily deal with the simple problems.  I also wondered if he was just putting me on.  He did the interview which was good, with Bob Crane holding back on his normal antics and zany sound effects to address Reagan’s political issues.  There was a small bump in sales from this and other interviews with Los Angeles radio personality Michael Jackson, but for the most part the book was a flop.  People weren’t taking Reagan seriously at the time, and wouldn’t until he ran for Governor of California. 

Back to Romney, David Gergen describes “the rest of Him” as his personal and religious life.  Thinks Romney is missing a bet by not addressing his Mormon faith as John F. Kennedy did his Catholicism in 1960.  Gergen even praises the Mormon people saying they “…they build strong families, create successful businesses, and serve as outstanding citizens.”  What’s not to like?  He also described a completely different Romney in the Parade interview he did as warm and personable, compared to the normal business-like demeanor. 

Although I have no intention of voting for Mitt Romney, I will fight to the death for his right to run a normal campaign based on his qualifications, and not be judged by religious zealots.

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