Primary Colors
by Anonymous (Joel Klein)

A novel about the Clinton campaign in the Democratic Party primaries of 1991—1992. It is narrated by the assistant manager of the campaign who is a son of a white mother and a black father. It is entertaining, and it gives a believable, inside view of the mentality, activities, and language of political junkies. Clinton's sexual sins are presented as analogous to his voracious appetite for food and as a major problem for his inner circle of supporters. His humanity and empathy for common people are presented as the source of his charisma. The narrator, like the Clintons, never questions the efficacy of federal-government programs to help the common people. Consequently, the principle virtue to look for in politicians is the kind of compassion and commiseration toward the common people that Clinton possesses. A major theme is the way that the pursuit of political power tends to corrupt those who participate, especially as their chances of winning become greater.
"He was six meaningful handshakes down the row before I caught up." p. 4

"She was explaining her program and he was in heavy listening mode, the most aggressive listening the world has ever known: aerobic listening. It is an intense, disconcerting phenomenon—as if he were hearing quicker than you can get the words out, as if he were sucking the information out of you." p. 4

"...she was great-looking, but she worked for Nader and came equipped with a lack of irony guaranteed to survive the most rigorous crash testing." p. 5

"They had a sense of inevitability about them, a sense of entitlement. They didn't flaunt it—it was almost casual; indeed, they were less vain than most politicians. They didn't require any of the usual empty ceremonies of deference and pomposity; they didn't need the reassurance. Their calm, absolutely certain sense of destiny represented a level of audacity well beyond the imaginings of the bulked-up student-body presidents cluttering the Congress." p. 20

"They weren't scumbag gossip reporters, they were media analysts. The scorps weren't reporting the trash, but how we dealt with the trash." p.117

"The willingness to be violent is a force multiplier," Libby said afterward. "That's the reason why the Mafia has been so successful over the years. Those boys are just like everyone else, except they're willing to be violent." p. 135

Year Read: 1997

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