Joe Klein, the famous "Anonymous" behind the Clinton tell-all Primary Colors, is back with his updated for 2007 book, Politics Lost, From RFK to W: How Politicians Have Become Less Courageous and More Interested in Keeping Power Than in Doing What's Right for America, (based on his 2006 book, Politics Lost: How American Democracy Was Trivialized by People Who Think You're Stupid.)
If you think campaigns have become an embarrassing display of puppet-candidates with their strings firmly tweaked by pollsters and consultants and focus groups (oh my!), let Klein take you on a gripping and highly readable tour of the beginning of the consultant phenomenon, including which candidates can make it work and which crash and burn. (Hello Gore? Kerry? He's talking about you.)
Klein pulls no punches, and my favorite section calls former Clinton campaign manager (and scandalized toe-sucker) Dick Morris unceremoniously on the carpet. For the scathing quote,
The most obvious person to take him there was an idiot savant named Dick Morris . . . Morris was another luftmensch, a courtier whose smarminess was legendary and ambidextrous — he worked for Democrats and Republicans alike . . . In his grotesque, and unintentionally hilarious memoir…”
Ouch. Literary rug burn, point, Mr. Klein.
But it's not all dirt. Klein delves into the wonky back story of every modern election and makes the book the perfect survival guide for the remaining 10 months of the 2008 Presidential Election.