i OPINIONS & Vii;ws^nNixon Is the One or The Giant Clash of EthicsnGodfrey Hodgson: All Things to AllnMen: The False Promise of the ModernnAmerican Presidency; Simon &nSchuster; New York.nby John C. CaiazzanJL his is an interesting, informed andnwell-written book about the problemsnthat beset the American Presidency; unfortunately,nit is also a myopic and tendentiousnbook, amounting to a BritishnLaborite’s view of what’s wrong withnAmerica. (Hodgson is an English historiannand reporter who has written aboutnWashington for 18 years for a variety ofnBritish media outlets, including thenLondon Sunday Times and the BBC.)nThe book presents in detail a thesis thatnis increasingly accepted (see Newsweek’snJanuary 16 cover story), i.e. that thenAmerican people look to the Presidencynfor things it cannot deliver because itnisn’t powerful enough to effect needednsocial change and because it is isolatednfrom the pressures and realities of modernnlife. The problems are seen as institutionalnand not as the failure of any onenPresident such as Kennedy, Roosevelt ornJohnson. Although Hodgson’s analysisnis rich in detail and based on his ownndirect observations as a reporter, andneven though it is supplemented withninsights from such scholars as Neustadtnand Rossiter, he comes to no definitenconclusion about the causes of this failure,nnor does he offer any clear solutionnfor it. Instead, he simply repeats hisntheme that the Presidency promises toonmuch (cannot therefore be “all things tonall men”), and all he can suggest is thatnthe American people have to learn tonexpect less from the President, fromnCongress and from politics in general.n”What has Dublin done to have deservednsuch a Lord Mayor.”” someonenonce asked William Butler Yeats, tonDr. Caiazza is an administrator at thenUniversity of Massachusetts at Boston.n6nChronicles of Culturenwhich he replied, “What has the LordnMayor done to deserve Dublin?” Indeed.nThere is a relationship between the characternof a people and the kind of leadershipnit gets. The American people get thenleadership they deserve, it has been said;nwhat did we do to deserve Johnson,nNixon, Carter and, yes, Kennedy.” Somenfault must lie in ourselves, not just innevents and the personalities of the mennwho have reached that office. In thatncase, the issue is moral and psychological,nand only a little bit political. Hodgsonnknows this; commenting on variousnproposals to reform the electoral process,nsuch as a national primary, he says, “Nobodynshould expect too much in the waynPresidents are chosen.” The fault, then,nwith All Things to All Men lies notnreally in its leftward political slant but innits not seizing on the underlying causesnof the effects which Hodgson has describednso well.nWhat has Hodgson left out of his account.”nThere are at least three things,nI think, including the election and programnof Ronald Reagan. This may seemnunfair since Hodgson- wrote the booknbefore Reagan became President, butnReagan’s tenure, in fact, can provide antest case for Hodgson’s thesis. That is, ifnReagan can instill a mood of confidencenin the country, slow inflation, restorensome prestige to the Presidency andnserve a full eight years —a tall orderngiven the recent attack on him—he willnnnhave disproved Hodgson’s thesis that thenPresidency is overextended. In order tonevaluate Reagan’s chances, however, it isnnecessary to develop an historical perspectiventhat Hodgson neglects: thenextraordinary impact of Richard Nixon’snPresidency.nThat Hodgson neglects Nixon’s impactnis not surprising, for he has annadvanced case of Nixonophobia—thatndread disease which afflicts so many ofnour brethren on the left—complete withnits collateral symptom of Kissingeritis.nHodgson can barely credit Nixon withnhaving done anything for the nationalngood, seeing instead malevolence andngreed as Nixon’s motives for action.nThus, Nixon’s impoundment of fundsnappropriated by a Democratic Congressnfor bloated programs Hodgson sees simplynas a threat to the separation-ofpowersndoctrine, not as an attempt toncontrol the inflationary effects of governmentnspending. An even greater lapsenin his perception: he fails to recognizenthat 1968 was a watershed election innAmerican history, on a par with thenelection of 1932 which brought in FDRnand the Democratic coalition. Thatncoalition—as we all know by now—ofnleft-wing intellectuals and labor, ofnurban north and rural south, of blacksnand rednecks gave Democrats effectivenpolitical control of this country for nearlyntwo generations. It was knit togethernby a progressive ideology: expansion ofnthe welfare activities of the federal government,nexpansion of the economynthrough deficit spending, the growth ofnunion power and civil-rights activities.nCritics charged that the interests of thenmembers of the coalition were at oddsnwith one another and that the progressivenideology contained some grossnflaws. It did not matter, though, for asnlong as the coalition was perceived tonbe working, the Democrats ruled.nJlventually, of course, the coalitionnfailed. It is a commonplace to contrastn