Magazine October 17, 2011, Issue

The Way the GOP Was

President George H.W. Bush (left) gestures next to former President Gerald Ford during a campaign rally at the Gerald Ford Museum, October 29, 1992. (Gary Hershorn/Reuters)
The Roots of Modern Conservatism: Dewey, Taft, and the Battle for the Soul of the Republican Party, by Michael Bowen (North Carolina, 288 pp., $45)

Those following the current Republican presidential primary campaign would find GOP presidential politics of the 1940s and 1950s odd, to say the least. As Michael Bowen shows in this new book, the GOP of that era was divided into two factions, one led by New York governor Thomas E. Dewey and the other by Ohio senator Robert A. Taft. Party insiders fought their battles behind the scenes. Both factions could lay claim to being part of the Republican establishment. Ideology was often a secondary concern. Neither National Review, talk radio, nor the conservative blogosphere was on the scene.

It was a …

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The Week

Obama is ready to take on the Republicans — or at least a handful of boors in the audience at Republican debates.


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