A deeply committed Harvard professor has added spice to a dull presidential campaign. Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr., professor of History, has just published a short book attempting to dispel the notion that Nixon and Kennedy are "the Gold Dust Twins of American Politics."
Entitled Kennedy or Nixon: Does It Make Any Difference? (Macmillan Co.), the book makes it clear that--to Schlesinger--it does indeed make a difference. He's for Kennedy, of course.
Perhaps the most basic difference between the two candidates, in Schlesinger's view, is that the Massachusetts Senator is concerned with putting across his political program, while the Vice-President is constantly worrying about his own "image." Schlesinger accuses Nixon of attempting to sell himself.
Nixon, claims Schlesinger, is an "other-directed" personality, a "chameleon" with no concrete political philosophy of his own. And his political strength lies precisely in his lack of viewpoint. As examples, Schlesinger cites Nixon's attitudes toward McCarthy, "eggheads," Benson, and "growthmanship."
Kennedy, on the contrary, is portrayed as a man "of some steadfastness of conviction," "a committed liberal." In a psychoanalytic approach to the democratic nominee's personality, Schlesinger asserts that Kennedy has "resolved the problem of his own identity," and as a result of his long illness has gained a certain measure of inner conviction."
Professor Schlesinger is currently on a one-term leave of absence, and a key member in the Kennedy brain trust.