Primary Colors Book Report

Forget Susan’s hairdresser, Cashmere Mc Leod, with whom Jack “allegedly” had a dalliance.

The question is, what are Jack and Susan going to DO with it?

First, to Henry (and seemingly to Klein) the fact that the governor fathered a child upon the teenage daughter of a friend is weighed in the balance against his capacity to "feel" the pain of others and is found to be of lesser import, somehow less revealing of his true character.

Second, it is not the governor who is really required to make the soul killing moral compromises here; it is his staff who are called upon to do the dirty work.

If he doesn't know you all that well and you've just told him something "important," something earnest or emotional, he will lock in and honor you with a two-hander, his left hand overwhelming your wrist and forearm. I didn't have the time, or presence of mind, to send any message back at him. And then I fell in, a step or two behind, classic staff position, as if I'd been doing it all my life. The particular genius of Bill Clinton lies in his uncanny (perhaps even frightening) ability to convince people that they have connected with him in just such a sense.

(I had, but not for anyone so good.) There is Bill Clinton, his undeniable appeal and his ultimate deceit all served up in three paragraphs. This has served to create almost unbreakable bonds of loyalty not merely between him and his absurdly loyal staff, and fellow Democrats, but also (and it pains me to say it) with the American people.The book goes on to depict a series of scandals, mostly involving women, which the candidate, his wife and his staff are forced to defuse, with varying degrees of truthfulness and savagery.Eventually though, when crunch time comes, Stanton shows himself willing to sink to almost any level to cover up the sins of his past, but also capable of relating to the pain of another candidates past failings.Fittingly, the key moment in the book is the first page, when Henry meets the Clinton doppelganger, Governor Jack Stanton, for the first time : He was a big fellow, looking seriously pale on the streets of Harlem in deep summer.I am small and not so dark, not very threatening to Caucasians; I do not strut my stuff. My inability to recall that particular moment more precisely is disappointing: the handshake is the threshold act, the beginning of politics.I used the word genius above and I do not think that characterization is too strong; Bill Clinton has a political genius, is a Genius.That I feel his gift to have been wasted in the service of his own personal aggrandizement does not change that galling fact.It's kind of remarkable that in spite of the intense media scrutiny to which we subject our Presidential hopefuls these days, when election day rolls around we remain unlikely to know them very well or understand them at all.In something of a paradox, this is actually the media's fault to a significant degree.The other major problem with this whole scenario is that it tends to favor, not the better candidate, but often the candidate who best fits the elements of the plot.Take a couple of perfectly competent but colorless men like Bob Dole and Mike Dukakis, surround them with professional but low key staffers and let them run serious campaigns on the issues, and the press will proceed to pummel them into submission, not necessarily for any ideological reasons, but because they make it hard to draw an audience to the show, refuse to follow the conventions of the predetermined script.


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