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Friday, August 24, 2012

Obama's Trash-Talk and Other Delights

Posted by Paul Constant on Fri, Aug 24, 2012 at 9:58 AM


Back in April, I reviewed the first two insta-e-books by Politico about the Republican presidential campaign. They were interesting, inside-baseball accounts of the hilarious doings of the Republican candidates who tried to unseat Mitt Romney. Now, the newest Politico e-book is out, and it's about what the Obama campaign has been up to until now.

The melodramatic title of Glenn Thrush's Obama's Last Stand is a giveaway that we're looking at a ginned-up account of the inside of Obama's campaign. You get the sense that Thrush is looking for a hook, a conflict that could garner his book some headlines, but I'm not sure that the news that Stephanie Cutter was barely on speaking terms with David Axelrod is going to be that appealing to anyone but the wonkiest of political wonks. More interesting are Thrush's accounts of Obama's competitiveness. He reports that, unlike John McCain or even Sarah Palin, Obama has developed a "genuine disdain" for Mitt Romney on a personal level, which has helped invigorate the president's campaign appearances. And the book opens with a great overheard exchange between Obama and a Marco Rubio supporter at a fundraiser, back in the days when Rubio was considered a frontrunner for Romney's vice presidential pick. Obama asks the woman, "So, is your boy going to go for it?" When she replies noncommittally, Obama chuckles and says, "Well, tell your boy to watch it. He might get his ass kicked."

But mostly, this book suffers from not having as colorful a cast of characters as Politico's previous two books. (It also helps that the other campaigns ended before the books were published, creating lots of ex-employees with grudges who were perfectly willing to toss some dirt to the media.) There's a whole lot of stuff you've heard before, with only a few genuine splashes of insight. Bill Clinton, for example, was not a fan of the negative tone of the campaign, instead urging Obama's advisers to lay out their plan for the future. That's probably the reason behind the ad that the Obama campaign released yesterday. If you're dying to know everything about the reasoning behind what happens almost as it happens, this is a can't-miss affair. If you're having a hard time keeping up with the campaign as it is, this book is eminently skippable.


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