Every so often, A Superfluous Man falls off the wagon and goes on a conservative bender. With apologies to our kinder, gentler, more compassionate readers in the “reality-based” community, the next few posts will be filled with Republicans red in tooth and claw.
Title: The Amateur, by Edward Klein
Motivation: A review—an unfavorable review, no less—in The Weekly Standard
Completed: June 1, 2012
Recommendation: You have likely already heard all the juicy bits, so save your money and buy the book on olive oil.
Mr. Klein sets out to demonstrate that the President is a bungling (yet cynically Machiavellian) amateur and that his friends are pretty bad, too. One may state with absolute certainty that Mr. Klein has proven his case to his own satisfaction. Whether anyone without a previously formed opinion on the matter will be swayed is another matter.
Consider the below quotation from Andrew Ferguson’s review in The Weekly Standard, a publication whose conservative bona fides are unimpeachable:
The Amateur, by a former New York Times magazine editor named Edward Klein, takes the first approach. Pure Obama-hatred was enough to shoot the book to the top of the Times bestseller list for the first three weeks after its release. Klein is best known as a Kennedy-watcher, author of such panting chronicles as All Too Human: The Love Story of Jack and Jackie Kennedy and Farewell, Jackie: A Portrait of Her Final Days; among the many info-bits he has tossed onto the sprawling slagheap of Kennedy lore is the news that Jackie lost her virginity in an elevator (the elevator was in Paris, where else). More recently Klein has honed his hatchet with books on Hillary Clinton and Katie Couric. Now The Amateur proves that he has mastered the techniques of such anti-Obama pioneers as Dinesh (The Roots of Obama’s Rage) D’Souza and David (The Great Destroyer) Limbaugh. He knows how to swing the sledgehammer prose, combine a leap of logic with a baseless inference, pad the paragraphs with secondary material plucked from magazine articles you’ve already read, and render the most mundane details in the most scandalized tones.
The titillating tidbits titillate: the First Lady versus Oprah Winfrey, former President Clinton in vain attempts to encourage his wife to mount a 2012 primary challenge, Jeremiah Wright alleging that he was approached with hush money by a friend-of-a-friend-of-a-friend-of-the-Obama-campaign, etc. Except for an on-the-record interview with the Reverend Mr. Wright, very few of Mr. Klein’s anecdotes are substantiated. Then again, surely no one would ever leak, lie, or gossip about a sitting president in Washington, D.C….?
As scurrilous “inside baseball” books go, a better bet is Game Change: Obama and the Clintons, McCain and Palin, and the Race of a Lifetime, by John Heileman and Mark Halperin. While Game Change is perhaps unduly harsh on the Clintons and the GOP candidates—the book also relies heavily on off-the-record sources, largely drawn from the Obama ’08 campaign—there is slightly more of the ring of journalistic truth and far less naked partisanship.