Best Quotes by Robert Dallek

What I find so interesting is, Herbert Hoover in August 1928 said no country in the world was closer to abolishing poverty than the United States. And then, of course, we had the Great Depression.

Robert Dallek

For those of us who cry out for gun control, our fears cannot be eliminated as long as the country remains an armed camp in which the most troubled among us can find ways to appropriate one of the easily available weapons in all our communities.

Robert Dallek

Obama’s endorsement of gay marriage is hardly as consequential as Johnson’s legislative success on civil rights.

Robert Dallek

In 1800, in the first interparty contest, the Federalists warned that presidential candidate Thomas Jefferson, because of his sympathy expressed at the outset of the French Revolution, was ‘the son of a half-breed Indian squaw’ who would put opponents under the guillotine.

Robert Dallek

John F. Kennedy went to bed at 3:30 in the morning on November 9, 1960, uncertain whether he had defeated Richard Nixon for the presidency. He thought he had won, but six states hung in the balance, and after months of exhaustive campaigning, he was too tired to stay awake any longer.

Robert Dallek

When President Obama first unveiled his gun control proposals recommending a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines and better background checks, there seemed to be momentum behind the effort. But then the proposals ran into a wall.

Robert Dallek

Don’t be intimidated by people who seem to be experts. Hear their points of view and get their judgements. But at the end of day, you’ve got to make a judgement because it’s not their life that’s going to be affected so much as your future.

Robert Dallek

There is a line between scurrilous nonsense and serious discussion that laps over, especially in this day and age when you’ve got all this electronic media and these blogs and this kind of fanatical impulse to bring down the opposing candidate.

Robert Dallek

The so-called second New Deal of 1935 – including the Works Progress Administration, Social Security and the Wagner Act legalizing union labor – represented an effort to meet the rising voices demanding a more aggressive government approach to the collapse of national prosperity.

Robert Dallek

Truman is now seen as a near-great president because he put in place the containment doctrine boosted by the Truman Doctrine and the Marshall Plan and NATO, which historians now see as having been at the center of American success in the cold war.

Robert Dallek

Truman is now seen as a near-great president because he put in place the containment doctrine boosted by the Truman Doctrine and the Marshall Plan and NATO, which historians now see as having been at the center of American success in the cold war.

Robert Dallek

Late 19th-century populists saw bankers and industrialists manipulating markets to enrich themselves at the expense of small farmers and labourers and favoured political candidates promising economic relief through free and unlimited coinage of silver.

Robert Dallek

A president cannot sit on his hands and be seen as passive in the face of ruthless action by a foreign dictator.

Robert Dallek

Few American presidents are held in higher esteem than Thomas Jefferson. Though historians have scrutinized every phase of his long public career and found him wanting in a number of respects, he holds an unshakable place in the pantheon of American heroes.

Robert Dallek

There are limits on what a president can achieve or do, but the expectations are so great.

Robert Dallek

What makes war interesting for Americans is that we don’t fight war on our soil, we don’t have direct experience of it, so there’s an openness about the meanings we give to it.

Robert Dallek

Once the public loses confidence in a president’s leadership at a time of war, once they don’t trust him anymore, once his credibility is sharply diminished, how does he get it back?

Robert Dallek

John Kennedy had so many different medical problems that began when he was a boy. He started out with intestinal problems… spastic colitis.

Robert Dallek

The Atlantic conference in the North Atlantic off Newfoundland is a dramatic moment in World War II history because for the first time, Roosevelt and Churchill are meeting face to face in this war.

Robert Dallek

I think the most important thing that comes out of the meeting between Churchill and Roosevelt in early 1942 is a commitment on Roosevelt’s part to fight Europe first. To struggle first against Germany and put Japan and the Pacific as a secondary theatre in the conflict. And this is what Churchill was after.

Robert Dallek

Clinton’s egregious act of self-indulgence was outdone by an impeachment based not on constitutionally required high crimes and misdemeanors but on a vindictive determination to bring down a president who had offended self-righteous moralists eager to put a different political agenda in place.

Robert Dallek

Compared with other recent presidents whose stumbles and failures have assaulted the national self-esteem, memories of Kennedy continue to give the country faith that its better days are ahead. That’s been reason enough to discount his limitations and remain enamored of his presidential performance.

Robert Dallek

Presidential aspirants reach for the highest office to satisfy some yearning for greatness or even immortality.

Robert Dallek

One doesn’t simply write about Lyndon Johnson. You get the Johnson treatment from beyond the grave – arm around you, nose to nose. I should admit that he also reminds me of my father, quite an overbearing and narcissistic character. And in some ways, he reminds me of myself. Another workaholic.

Robert Dallek

Political vitriol is a familiar enough characteristic of American history.

Robert Dallek

George Washington sets the nation on its democratic path. Abraham Lincoln preserves it. Franklin Roosevelt sees the nation through depression and war.

Robert Dallek

My feeling is that it’s a misreading of history to say that, as the Reagan supporters do, that Reagan won the Cold War.

Robert Dallek

Compared with other recent presidents whose stumbles and failures have assaulted the national self-esteem, memories of Kennedy continue to give the country faith that its better days are ahead. That’s been reason enough to discount his limitations and remain enamored of his presidential performance.

Robert Dallek

George Washington sets the nation on its democratic path. Abraham Lincoln preserves it. Franklin Roosevelt sees the nation through depression and war.

Robert Dallek

My feeling is that it’s a misreading of history to say that, as the Reagan supporters do, that Reagan won the Cold War.

Robert Dallek

Kennedy is remembered as a success mainly because of what came after: Johnson and Vietnam. Nixon and Watergate.

Robert Dallek

I think experience is a terribly overrated idea when it comes to thinking about who should become president.

Robert Dallek

Experience helped Richard Nixon, but it didn’t save him, and it certainly wasn’t a blanket endorsement. He blundered terribly in dealing with Vietnam.

Robert Dallek

Historians partial to Kennedy see matters differently from those partial to L.B.J. Vietnam has become a point of contention in defending and criticizing J.F.K.

Robert Dallek

Congress becomes the public voice of opposition.

Robert Dallek

Governing is one thing, campaigning is another – and the latter becomes far more pronounced in an election-year State of the Union.

Robert Dallek

If nobody trusts you as president, then you can’t get anything done.

Robert Dallek

American politics is theatre. There is a frightening emotionalism at national conventions.

Robert Dallek

A presidential candidate’s great desire is to be seen as pragmatic, and they hope their maneuvering and shifting will be seen in pursuit of some higher purpose. It doesn’t mean they are utterly insincere.

Robert Dallek

With television, you can make anyone look larger than life.

Robert Dallek

Eisenhower was quite supportive of Kennedy and Johnson in terms of foreign policy.

Robert Dallek

There are examples of ex-presidents speaking out. Jimmy Carter has not held back on a variety of issues. Harry Truman didn’t.

Robert Dallek

At the end of their first years, there are few people who would have predicted that Truman would be elected in 1948 or that Reagan would get a second term. It’s always premature to make some kind of categorical judgment after the first year in office.

Robert Dallek

The 1890s was an intensely patriotic decade for Americans. It was a time of neo-imperialism, when the European powers and the United States were establishing their flags around the globe.

Robert Dallek

How many State of the Union addresses do people remember? They don’t resonate that way.

Robert Dallek

The institution of the presidency was profoundly affected by Watergate.

Robert Dallek

Unity is Obama’s theme.

Robert Dallek

I think the public can t accept the idea that someone as inconsequential as Oswald could have killed someone as consequential as Kennedy. They don t want to believe the world is that chaotic. It is.

Robert Dallek

Racial segregation in the South not only separated the races, but it separated the South from the rest of the country.

Robert Dallek

At the start of first terms, presidents invariably have a measure of goodwill.

Robert Dallek

Obama is cutting back on the idea that we’re going to have Jeffersonian democracy in Pakistan or anywhere else.

Robert Dallek

Television has an awful lot to do with the Kennedy mystique and the fact that he’s frozen in people’s minds at the age of 46, and he was handsome and personable and witty and charming.

Robert Dallek

For style and for creating a mood of optimism and hope – Kennedy on that count is as effective as any president the country has had in its history.

Robert Dallek

There’s a certain clubbiness to the idea that you’re an ex-president. You’re no longer a politician. You’re a statesman.

Robert Dallek

Harry Truman wrote scathing letters, but he almost never sent them.

Robert Dallek

It’s always valuable for someone running for president… to have as much bipartisan support as possible.

Robert Dallek

At the end of the day, Americans are not so keen on ideologues, people who have such fixed positions that they can’t see any virtue in the other side’s point of view.

Robert Dallek

Richard Nixon had a kind of Walter Mitty fantasy life. He was a man with a grandiose thoughts: dreams of not simply being president but maybe becoming one of the truly great presidents of American history.

Robert Dallek

President Obama can talk about having no grand schemes and making no big gains, but the reality is he can’t get anything of significance through Congress.

Robert Dallek

After one party loses two elections in a row, there’s sort of blood in the water.

Robert Dallek

Presidents need to be critically studied and analyzed.

Robert Dallek

To be sure, Kennedy did not discount the importance of words in rallying the nation to meet its foreign and domestic challenges. Winston Churchill’s powerful exhortations during World War II set a standard he had long admired. Kennedy was hardly unmindful of how important a great inaugural address could be.

Robert Dallek

Theodore Roosevelt had drawn public attention to his attractive family in order to create a bond with ordinary Americans. Eleanor Roosevelt had successfully broached the idea that a First Lady could be nearly as much a public figure as her husband.

Robert Dallek

Vice President Biden’s surprising declaration of unqualified support for gay marriage seems to have forced President Obama into a public endorsement of a controversial social issue. It is difficult not to suspect that Biden’s pronouncement aimed to give the president some political cover.

Robert Dallek

When Johnson decided to fight for passage of the law John F. Kennedy had put before Congress in June 1963 banning segregation in places of public accommodation, he believed he was taking considerable political risks.

Robert Dallek

Whatever the long-term legal prospects for same-sex marriage, President Obama’s willingness to put the matter front and center in an election year can at least make him a candidate for inclusion in Kennedy’s Profiles in Courage.

Robert Dallek

As for Vietnam, what matters is that Kennedy successfully resisted pressure to send anything more than military advisers, a stance that was a likely prelude to complete withdrawal from the conflict. There is solid evidence of his eagerness to end America’s military role in that country’s civil war.

Robert Dallek

Kennedy saw the presidency as the vital center of government, and a president’s primary goal as galvanizing commitments to constructive change. He aimed to move the country and the world toward a more peaceful future, not just through legislation but through inspiration.

Robert Dallek

In seeking an empire of liberty, Jefferson wished not only to expand the country’s territorial holdings, but also to extend American institutions around the globe.

Robert Dallek

The rise of the Tea Party, along with the emergence of Christine O’Donnell in Delaware, Sharron Angle in Nevada, Carl Paladino in New York and Ron Paul in Kentucky, is not the first time in American history that voters have responded to hard economic times by supporting angry, unorthodox Senate and gubernatorial candidates.

Robert Dallek

In the late 19th century, the Populists – a protest movement of mainly disaffected farmers and workers – threatened to overturn established authority.

Robert Dallek

Joseph McCarthy and the John Birch Society launched an anti-Communist crusade that won the support of millions of Americans in the 1950s.

Robert Dallek

Besieged by lawsuits that threatened to engulf almost everyone at the White House, Clinton assistants shunned paper or e-mail records of their daily deliberations. One told me that he would go down the hall to confer with his division chief face to face rather than discuss an issue on the telephone.

Robert Dallek

A national government using New Deal programs and the massive defense spending beginning with World War II and continuing through the Cold War was Johnson’s vehicle for expanding the Southern economy and making it, as he hoped, one of the more prosperous regions of the country.

Robert Dallek

The Cold War is over. The kind of authority that the presidents asserted during the Cold War has now been diminished.

Robert Dallek

Lyndon Johnson is not a comfortable model for President Obama to imitate. He is an all-but-forgotten president – pilloried for the failed war in Vietnam and criticized for grandiose reforms conservatives denounce as the epitome of federal social engineering that costs too much and does too little.

Robert Dallek

Like Lyndon Johnson, President Obama understands that timidity in a time of troubles is a prescription for failure.

Robert Dallek

Historians evaluating George W. Bush’s first term will focus on foreign policy and, most of all, 9/11. I think they will criticize him for his early reaction, for not returning at once to Washington, D.C.

Robert Dallek

The greatest presidents have been those who demonstrated astute judgment in times of crisis – often despite the advice they were getting.

Robert Dallek