Robert David Sanders Novak has joined Milton Friedman. But like Friedman, he is still speaking to millions who posess conservative values by the volumes of work he leaves behind.
Bob, what his friends called him, was clearly a desciple of Friedman. He was known for saying, “always love your country, but never trust your government.”
Novak, like Friedman, lived and worked among the movers and the shakers, Milton in Chicago and Novak in Washington D.C..
Novak was the Milton Friedman of American Journalism. His reporting was from the viewpoint of a fiscal conservative with high standards of personal responsibility and moral values.
The first president he covered was Harry Truman, and he has been in Washington ever since, breaking a huge number of big stories.
In his books, the Prince of Darkness and 33 Questions about American History, Novak here reveals the extraordinary 50 years of transformations that have fundamentally remade Washington politics and journalism as we know it today.
Here are some excerpts from the book that Novak remembers about our presidents:
The secret of Reagan’s success: he “kept his gaze on big goals” and displayed “implacable calm in the face of adversity”
Gerald Ford: “Of the ten presidents I covered, only Ford was a believer in congressional supremacy” and the minimizing of presidential power.
Richard Nixon: “A poor president and a bad man who inflicted grave damage on his party and his country”
Jimmy Carter: “A habitual liar who modified the truth to suit his own purposes”
Clinton’s politics: “Clinton was a man of the Left who disguised himself as a man of the center…Combining this with his personal misadventures meant the nineties would prove a dreadful decade for the Democrats”
George H.W. Bush: “An unhappy president. He could not come to grips with the prevailing Republican opinion on taxes, abortion, racial quotas, and other social and economic issues.”
Novak was very much influenced by Milton Friedman. He believed that the teaching of American history today is riddled with misrepresentations, misunderstandings, and flat-out lies about the people and events that have shaped the nation.
For example: the Indians didn’t save the Pilgrims from starvation by teaching them to grow corn. The “Wild West” wasn’t a freewheeling, lawless region – in fact it was more peaceful and a lot safer than most modern cities. Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal didn’t lift the United States out of the Great Depression. Foreign aid programs don’t help our friends and allies break out of poverty. And the biggest scandal involving Bill Clinton didn’t have anything to do with an intern in a blue dress and vengeful Republicans.