Sunday, January 10, 2010

Two Years of Dirty Linen

If you didn't know that John Edwards was a philandering phony, Sarah Palin is no Einstein, Harry Reid's tongue moves faster than his brain or Bill Clinton in his golden years is still not Mr. Monogamy, "Game Change" is here to fill the gaps in your education.

Half a century after Theodore White invented the "Making of the President" genre, the insider campaign book has morphed from exposing the process to stripping bare the people. The news that "Elizabeth Edwards' virtuous image was a mirage" has supplanted the narrative of how Bobby Kennedy tried to stop JFK from putting LBJ on the ticket as what voters really want to know about what went on behind the scenes.

At least it would seem so from the weekend's gabble about revelations that Mrs. Edwards terrorized her husband's campaign staff even before he took up with a viral videographer, that Palin did not know what the Federal Reserve does, that Reid admired Barack Obama as a "light-skinned" African-American "with no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one," and that Bill Clinton, surprise, was not totally faithful to Hillary even during the '08 campaign.

Teddy White, who wrote four "Making" books from 1960 to 1972 was sometimes criticized for suppressing scandal and gossip in order to maintain access to politicians, but he was one of the best journalists of his time, eulogized by William F. Buckley thus: "(C)onjoined with his fine mind, his artist's talent, his prodigious curiosity, there was a transcendent wholesomeness, a genuine affection for the best in humankind."

Those who now know as much as they want about the Edwardses may want to go back and see how it was done in the time of the Kennedys.

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