Power Plays : Win or Lose--How History's Great Political Leaders Play the Game

  • ISBN13:


  • ISBN10:


  • Edition: Reprint
  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 11/18/2009
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publications

Note: Supplemental materials are not guaranteed with Rental or Used book purchases.

Purchase Benefits

  • Free Shipping On Orders Over $59!
    Your order must be $59 or more to qualify for free economy shipping. Bulk sales, PO's, Marketplace items, eBooks and apparel do not qualify for this offer.
  • Get Rewarded for Ordering Your Textbooks! Enroll Now
List Price: $14.69 Save up to $6.61
  • Rent Book $8.08
    Add to Cart Free Shipping


Supplemental Materials

What is included with this book?

  • The New copy of this book will include any supplemental materials advertised. Please check the title of the book to determine if it should include any access cards, study guides, lab manuals, CDs, etc.
  • The Used and Rental copies of this book are not guaranteed to include any supplemental materials. Typically, only the book itself is included. This is true even if the title states it includes any access cards, study guides, lab manuals, CDs, etc.


Morris, a frank and outspoken political analyst, provides a revealing context for the machinations of contemporary politics. Casting an eye across the annals of history, Morris investigates 20 of the most dramatic political moves of all time--from the wildly effective to the disastrous.

Author Biography

Dick Morris is the author of four previous books. A former presidential campaign advisor, he is currently a political analyst for Fox News Channel and a columnist for the New York Post. Morris divides his time between Connecticut and New York

Table of Contents

Introductionp. xi
Strategy One: Stand on Principlep. 1
Successful--Reagan Stands on His Principles ... and Winsp. 7
Unsuccessful--Goldwater's Crusade Crashesp. 18
Successful--Churchill Emerges from the Wilderness to Lead Britain in Its Finest Hourp. 26
Successful--De Gaulle Defeats the Political Partiesp. 42
Successful--Abraham Lincoln Moves from Abolitionism to Union ... and Winsp. 56
Unsuccessful--Woodrow Wilson Goes Down Fighting for the League of Nationsp. 64
Unsuccessful--Al Gore Runs Away from His Environmental Beliefs ... and Loses as a Resultp. 75
Strategy Two: Triangulatep. 89
Successful--George W. Bush Moves the GOP Toward Compassionate Conservatismp. 95
Successful--Bill Clinton Leads His Party to the Centerp. 110
Successful--Francois Mitterrand Lets Jacques Chirac Pass His Program ... and then Beats Him at the Pollsp. 127
Unsuccessful--Nelson Rockefeller Crashes as He Falls Between the Partiesp. 138
Strategy Three: Divide and Conquerp. 151
Successful--Lincoln Splits the Democrats over Slavery and Gets Electedp. 153
Successful--Nixon Capitalizes on the Democratic Split on Vietnam to Get Electedp. 164
Unsuccessful--Dewey Splinters the Democrats but Truman Wins Anywayp. 178
Strategy Four: Reform Your Own Partyp. 197
Successful--Tony Blair Reforms the Labour Party and Takes Over Britainp. 201
Successful--Koizumi Reforms Japan's Ruling Party ... and Transforms Japanese Politicsp. 218
Unsuccessful--McGovern Reforms His Party ... and the Empire Strikes Backp. 233
Strategy Five: Use a New Technologyp. 249
Successful--FDR Uses Radio to Reach Americap. 253
Successful and Unsuccessful--John F. Kennedy Uses Television to Win the Unwinnable Election ... and Richard Nixon Uses It to Lose the Unlosable Onep. 269
Successful--Lyndon Johnson Runs Negative Ads ... and Transforms Politicsp. 280
Strategy Six: Mobilizing the Nation in Times of Crisisp. 291
Churchill and Roosevelt Mobilize Their Nations for War, While Lyndon Johnson Mobilizes Only Mistrust and Oppositionp. 297
Epiloguep. 315
Acknowledgmentsp. 317
Notesp. 319
Indexp. 345
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.


Strategy One

Stand On Principle

For some leaders, the art of politics is not about movement but about positioning. More passionate about their ideas than about political gamesmanship, they hunker down and await the light moment for their ideology, deeply confident that it will certainly come. If their policies and ideas do not immediately catch fire today, so be it. If not, they are content to hang back until they sense that public opinion is on a course to converge with their vision. A position that is untenable today, such figures hope, will become inevitable tomorrow as events force things their way. The key, to them, is to monopolize and fortify their position, so that they are its leading advocate and can step, uncontested, into power, proving that they had been right all along.

Like Leninists, such political leaders are confident that the future is on their side, and that they are standing on the tight side of history. Ralph Waldo Emerson commented on how the worldview of such men differs from the opportunism more common in public life: They did not yet see, and thousands of young men as hopeful now crowding to the barriers for the career, do not yet see, that if the single man plant himself indomitably on his instincts and there abide, the huge world will come round to him."

The person who chooses to "plant himself indomitably on his instincts and there abide" hopes that history will see him through his defeats to ultimate victory. As John Stuart Mill wrote, to such people "Persecution is an ordeal through which truth ought to pass." Their patience in the face of adversity stems from their conviction that they are right, as Mill said: "The real advantage which truth has consists in this, that when an opinion is true, it may be extinguished once, twice, or many times, but in the course of ages there will generally be found persons to rediscover it, until some one of its reappearances falls on a time when from favourable circumstances it escapes persecution until it has made such head as to withstand all subsequent attempts to suppress it."

But history can be a faithless lover. The political graveyards are filled with men and women who have firmly planted themselves upon their "instincts," only to watch events move past them without so much as a glance over the shoulder to wave good-bye.

What distinguishes those who succeed by standing on principle from those who fail? Why does the strategy assure success for some and leave others stranded in irrelevance? What makes some who stood firm seem prescient and others appear foolish? What separates the dogmatic and stubborn who "don't get it" from the visionaries who are "ahead of their time?" It is a question that carries weight in any field of endeavor: '"here does prescience end and obsession begin?

Obviously the basic validity of the leader's vision is the most importantfactor. Those whose vision is fatally flawed are usually doomed to wait in vain at the political railroad station for a train that never comes. Yet even a solid grasp of the trends of history - or of the marketplace - cannot guarantee success. Many who patiently waited have gone to bitter graves, only to have their reputations posthumously honored by the vindication of their views.

There are, of course, many reasons for success and failure. But there is one factor that may distinguish those who succeed from those who do not. Those men and women who start in the wilderness, bide their time, and find that the "world comes round to them" have generally managed to weave their ideas into a deeper and more important framework, most often a vision of their nation's high calling. Those who fall short often remain entrenched in the langtiage of ideology and fail to make the transition to the rhetoric of patriotism.

This section will examine four men who stood on principle, and ultimately succeeded: Ronald Reagan, Winston Churchill, Charles de Gaulle, and Abraham Lincoln. Each man met with initial failure and defeat, was exiled to the political wilderness, and later returned to claim power. All four kept to their principles and refused to compromise to gain office. But each, in his Own way, managed the transition from ideology to patriotism as lie made his final push for power.

Many felt that Reagan Should have learned the futility of his hardline conservatism from the sad example of Barry Goldwater's landslide defeat in 1964. But Reagan didn't get die message. Without missing a beat, he pushed his conservative dogma with (logged consistency, through two terms as governor of California and a failed bid for the Republican presidential nomination in 1976. When Reagan ultimately returned from his four years in the wilderness and won die 1980 presidential election, little had changed in his vision - but America, in the meantime, had sunk into a national malaise under President Jimmy Carter. As Americans began to fear they'd been coilsigned to what Leon Trotsky called the "dustbin Of history," Reagan won the presidency by wrappinghis right-wing philosophy around a deep, abiding patriotism and contagious optimism about the future.

Winston Churchill's wilderness years were even longer- lasting eighteen years. Confined to the political desert in the 1920s and 1930s, this quintessential military imperialist seemed a distant voice in a world turning away from war, and a Britain turning in on itself. As the menace of Hitler grew, Churchill alone warned of the danger decrying the policy of appeasing the Germans. But his was a lonely voice to which few listened . . . until Adolf Hitler came along to prove Churchill right, and Britons of all political stripes turned to him for leadership. Yet though his warnings were vindicated, it was not as an empire-builder or militarist that Churchill carved his enduring place in history. It was as the herald of optimism and determination in a nation almost suffocating in self-doubt and defeatism.


Excerpted from Power Plays by Dick Morris Copyright 2003 by Dick Morris
Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Rewards Program

Write a Review