The Presidents Club: Inside the World's Most Exclusive Fraternity
Nancy Gibbs, Michael Duffy
The New York Times bestselling history of the private relationships among the last thirteen presidents—the partnerships, private deals, rescue missions, and rivalries of those select men who served as commander in chief.
The Presidents Club, established at Dwight Eisenhower’s inauguration by Harry Truman and Herbert Hoover, is a complicated place: its members are bound forever by the experience of the Oval Office and yet are eternal rivals for history’s favor. Among their secrets: How Jack Kennedy tried to blame Ike for the Bay of Pigs. How Ike quietly helped Reagan win his first race in 1966. How Richard Nixon conspired with Lyndon Johnson to get elected and then betrayed him. How Jerry Ford and Jimmy Carter turned a deep enmity into an alliance. The unspoken pact between a father and son named Bush. And the roots of the rivalry between Clinton and Barack Obama.
Time magazine editors and presidential historians Nancy Gibbs and Michael Duffy offer a new and revealing lens on the American presidency, exploring the club as a hidden instrument of power that has changed the course of history.
that his own daughters, Julie and Tricia, had also attended Sidwell Friends, where Chelsea was in school. Trying to bond over the one thing he knew Hillary cared most about, he said, “You know I tried to fix the health care system more than twenty years ago. It has to be done sometime.” “I know,” Hillary replied, stroking him right back. “And we’d be better off today if your proposal had succeeded.” When the two presidents finally sat down, alone, over Diet Cokes, Nixon did most of the talking.
answers”: Michael Beschloss, ed., Reaching for Glory: Lyndon Johnson’s Secret White House Tapes, 1964–1965 (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2001), 165. A special National Intelligence Estimate: Rick Perlstein, Nixonland: The Rise of a President and the Fracturing of America (New York: Scribner, 2008), 102. Stalwart establishment columnists: “One Problem, Two Solutions,” Columnists, Time, January 1, 1965. That would yield: Goodwin, Lyndon Johnson and the American Dream, 251–52. “a defeat for the
“when the chips were down.” The plan also assumed that the invaders could slip into the mountains to take up guerrilla operations; but that proved impossible, which seemed to come as a surprise not only to the president but to many of the other principals involved in approving the mission. “The Cuban armed forces are stronger, the popular response is weaker, and our tactical position is feebler than we had hoped,” National Security Advisor McGeorge Bundy wrote in a grim memo to Kennedy. Analysts
RONALD REAGAN LIBRARY; LBJ LIBRARY PHOTO BY MIKE GEISSINGER; COURTESY OF DIANA WALKER; ERIC DRAPER, COURTESY OF THE GEORGE W. BUSH PRESIDENTIAL LIBRARY COPYRIGHT © 2012 SIMON & SCHUSTER ALSO BY NANCY GIBBS AND MICHAEL DUFFY The Preacher and the Presidents Simon & Schuster 1230 Avenue of the Americas New York, NY 10020 www.SimonandSchuster.com Copyright © 2012 by Nancy Gibbs and Michael Duffy All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book or portions thereof
the state’s history. The next night, in Wisconsin, thousands jammed Milwaukee’s cavernous Municipal Arena (some paying $100 a plate; others $5 just to sit unfed in the balcony) to hear Reagan give his trademark speech. “We have some hippies in California,” Reagan told the crowd. “For those of you who don’t know what a hippie is, he’s a fellow who has hair like Tarzan, who walks like Jane and who smells like Cheetah.” Reagan campaigned in Oregon in November and then went to Connecticut in