On The White House Watch
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Scholar Robert Dallek, a Master of the Telling Great Men's Lives,
Speaks for Himself, Reticently
Election '96, and Bob Dole is scrambling to define himself as pro-family
by proposing a huge tax cut. Ross Perot is wasting more precious
prime-time TV with a rambling tirade on the deficit. As for Bill
Clinton, he's mollifying conservatives with welfare reform, appeasing
liberals opposed to the reforms and trying to keep ahead of the
scandal of the day.
a presidential race ever produced such an opportunistic trio of
candidates and so much unwarranted wackiness? "Sure," says UCLA
American history professor Robert Dallek cheerfully. "It reminds
me a lot of the late 19th century when we had an awful lot of Tweedle
Dum and Tweedle Dee. There was an affinity for third-party movements
then because the feeling was that neither of the major parties were
addressing the important questions. I think there's a lot of that
the esteemed biographer of FDR and LBJ, is on the phone from Washington,
D.C., where he's settled in Woodley Park, an upscale neighborhood
of lovely old brick homes and tree-lined streets. He moved here
last January for a time when his wife, Geri, a respected health-care
policy analyst, took a job with the nonprofit agency Families USA.
the prolific scholar hasn't exactly passed the time lying around
reading The Washington Post. In September, Dallek's sixth book,
Hail to the Chief: The Making and Unmaking of American Presidents,
will be published by Hyperion, and he's hard at work on the next.
He's been teaching at the University of Texas at Austin, among other
places. And he spent the 1994-'95 academic year at Oxford University,
as Harmsworth Professor of American History.