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tv   Liking Ike  CSPAN  May 20, 2017 6:18pm-6:31pm EDT

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or anything like that. we operate out of the budget that is appropriated by the city of trenton but we are secured in that we will always be a free public library. libraries are amazing institutions in our country. free public libraries are even greater. we have the ability to offer individuals things that they cannot afford or have access to. what is amazing is here in the free public library everyone is equal. doesn't matter if they were persons or you didn't have a penny to your name but what's amazing is you come in the door of a public library you are equal and everyone has access to everything. c-span is in trenton new jersey learning more about the city's literary themes. up next to talk with author david blake about the political endorsement in his book "liking ike".
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>> the relationship between celebrity goes back a long time. goes at least as far back as andrew jackson who was known and celebrated as the great general of the battle of new orleans but we called modern-day celebrity politics begins in the 1920s with warren harding's front porch presidential campaign. the way they did presidential campaigns for harding if they kept harding at home and everybody would come and visit harding which would create a day of newspaper reporting and he would stay home and meet folks there in ohio. the singer al jolson came with 50 broadway stars all the way from new york to harding's home in ohio where they parade down main street and started singing songs in harding's praise. i think of that is really the first time we had celebrities in
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the modern age who were very interested in advocating for a candidate. it's really with the advent of television in the 1950s that celebrity politics becomes a national kind of episode. isenhour is such a nature to encase because isenhour was someone who was not really interested in politics. he wasn't interested in politics and it really wasn't interested in celebrity. he had been a military man his entire life. in fact he refused to run for president in 1932 but he allowed his name to be entered and nominated so he spent most of the 1952 primary campaign overseas in paris where he was supreme commander of nato. this made for an adjusting story to me because he had a presidential candidate who is off site who wasn't dissipating in his campaign.
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they were supporting isenhour forbade republican nomination and they relied on people like clark gable or helen hayes to come out and speak on his the house and support him as a candidate. one of the interesting things about the 1952 campaign is that the democrats have been in power for 20 years. roosevelt had taken them through the depression and taken them through most of world war ii. truman had his own term and now many people in the country felt there needed to be a change in government. the republican front-runner was a man named senator robert taft and taft was from an old republican family in ohio. his father had been president and he was known in party circles as mr. republican. isenhour came in and the taft people were immediately
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concerned about the emergence of a celebrity candidate. they called him a glamour candidate. it's hard for us to imagine isenhour being labeled as the glamour candidate but to the die-hard taft people that's exactly what he representative. isenhour came in and there was a big struggle between traditional republicans and many of these people were not internationalist people like him who were media savvy and very good on television and very good on the radio and also had a much more global vision for the united states. eisenhower was a hero to monumental proportions. he was the person who had led the allied forces to victory in world war ii so many republicans in hollywood and many democrats would previously supported
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roosevelt found themselves being attracted to eisenhower. there was something about the man that inspired a lot of confidence in his supporters. one of the things that eisenhower represents for a lot of people is candidates are often very good at attracting people from the other parties. they are people who can bring in independents and bring in swing voters and in this case the swing voter democrats. this is something that eisenhower's advertising people knew and they worked very hard to exploit it. ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪
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>> in the 1950s they were particularly concerned that politics have become an exercise in show business and their concern was that the politics would turn voters into an audience and audiences would soak up everything that i been told to them. this is the time when people didn't believe that advertising was a form of mind control. people saw it there was a totalitarian regime going on in the soviet union where people weren't allowed to think independently that we were creating our own totalitarian environment through mass advertising. there were people like john steinbeck or vance packard who spoke eloquently about the problems of turning the nation into a massive tv.
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somehow they would all become zombies and that was a word that people used. that's one thing when you are buying a breakfast cereal but it's another thing when you are looking at a political candidate. eisenhower had an uncomfortable relationship at first with show business and advertising. when he was initially asked to appear on television and commercials he was filmed by a guy named rosser draves who was a very famous advertising executive at the time. rosser reads created the first television commercials for a presidential campaign. eisenhower was very weary of this process and he was overheard in this process taping
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