At a critical moment in Jimmy Carter’s presidency, he gave a speech that should have changed the country. Instead it led to his downfall and ushered in the rise of the conservative movement in America. In What the Heck Are You Up to, Mr. President? Kevin Mattson gives us a behind-the-scenes look at the weeks leading up to Carter’s "malaise" speech, a period of great upheaval in the United States: the energy crisis had resulted in mile-long gas lines, inciting suburban riots and violence; the country’s morale was low and Carter’s ratings were even lower.
It all started with some businessmen bankrolling Richard Nixon to become a "salesman against socialization". But in this precursor to current campaign finance scandals, Nixon had some explaining to do to keep his place on Eisenhower’s Republican ticket, so he took to the airwaves. In making his speech, Nixon left behind lines about a "Republican cloth coat" and a black-and-white cocker spaniel named Checkers. The speech saved and bolstered Nixon’s political career and set the tone for the 1952 campaign. Just Plain Dick is political history and more.