So-called "soft money" clearly corrupted last year's presidential election, and financial scandals continue to dog the Clinton presidency. In this hour of To the Best of Our Knowledge, one plan for campaign finance reform. Also, how Richard Nixon invented the cult of deniability.
Journalist Elizabeth Drew tells Jim Fleming about the pernicious influence of so-called "soft money" on national politics, and that campaign fund-raising has spun out of control. Drew's latest book is "Whatever It Takes: The Real Struggle for Political Power in America." Also, Michael Taylor tells Judith Strasser about his adventures following the campaigns of the "lesser" candidates in the 1996 presidential election -- who ultimately restored his faith in democracy. Lewis is a columnist for the New York Times Magazine, a contributor to "The New Republic" and author of "Trail Fever."SEGMENT 2:
Writer Charles Baxter tells Steve Paulson that politicians have corrupted language in their effort to evade responsibility. He cites Nixon's reaction to Watergate as setting the standard for this sort of rhetoric. Baxter teaches writing at the University of Michigan and is the author of both fiction and a book of essays called "Burning Down the House."SEGMENT 3:
Brad Leithauser's new novel "The Friends of Freeland" tells what happens when American style spin-doctors infest a presidential election in a tiny, (and imaginary!) North Atlantic island country. Leithauser tells Steve Paulson that politics should be about honor and personal integrity - not success in the polls.
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