Ghost Writers, from a scholar

January 10, 2012 |

 Every modern President has had a ghost writer. Even the failed candidates (Mrs. Clinton, for example) have had some anonymous scribe laboring over his/her collection of press clippings, interview transcripts and other gleanings to produce a suitable memoir. Begin with Profiles in Courage and work forward. This may be unfair to the Bushes; I am certain Mrs. Bush I wrote the one about the dog.

No one becomes President any more without having the goal as a childhood ambition - either their own or their parents or both. Dwight Eisenhower is the last Chief Executive who arrived at the office without having dreamt of hearing Hail to the Chief while sucking his/her thumb.

The primary political skill required for becoming President is that you be able to raise the money; in that, President Obama is one of the masters and has been from an early age. He has played Hollywood (David Geffen, most of all) with a mastery that more than equals Joshua Bell; and he continues to be have the ability to not only generate pledges but also actually collect the checks and not have them bounce.

Obama's "outmaneuvering" of Mrs. Clinton was comparable to every other primary battle; he had more money, and he raised it by being as successful a leader of the trust fund children's crusade anyone in American history.

Blaming Mrs. Palin for McCain's defeat is like blaming Roosevelt for Pearl Harbor; it fits a contemptible narrative (it must be the bitch's fault) that relieves the actual commanders of their responsibility. Until McCain was fatally stupid enough to come to Washington and sit at the end of the table listening to Bush announce Paulson's "plan" (sic), he was leading in every poll; after that moment, he always trailed. At the moment of decision McCain showed himself to have as little moral courage as always; his "maverick" posture was simply vanity. When it mattered, it lacked the guts to stand apart. (The reason McCain was largely blackballed from the club of the Hanoi Hilton survivors is that he refused to accept the NVA offer of early release; his fellow captors wanted him to go back to Washington and tell people in the Pentagon how to win the war; McCain was afraid that he would look bad.)

Walter Mondale and Geraldine Ferraro lost 49 states; if McCain has carried as much of the white vote as Bush II in 2004, he would have been elected.

I think it is time for Vic to revive Admiral Nelson's rules. Otherwise, someone other than me is going to start throwing the rolls. (If they are as hard as the biscuits Harvard once served, someone may actually get hurt.)


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