While they obviously cover important moments in American history, these are really campaign films. There's a kind of Game Change-style love of process running throughout all of them, which I loved mentally comparing with what we've got today. The degree of press access and horse-race technology are, of course, quaint and archaic--the election-night electoral vote tallies on the network resemble the scoreboard at Fenway Park. But there was more that was familiar about these races than I expected. The vitriol of the attacks--Nixon shouting on the trail in 1960 that Kennedy "shows an ignorance economically which disqualfies him from even being considered for the presidency of the United States!" The anxiety about race--not so much as a national issue, which wasn't surprising, but a specifically political one, such as the debate in 1960 about whether there needed to be a "negro" in the Cabinet. And also the fixation on morals, especially the scandalous (at the time) marriage between divorcees Nelson Rockefeller and Margaret Murphy, which White overdramatizes thusly: "To men and women of dogmatic morality, this appears the manner of Manhattan-Babylon of the East."
All in all, these are fascinating films and I wish someone (PBS?) would re-air them so they'd get a wider audience. In the meantime, you can buy the set for $60.
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