Dear Lord in Heaven, how in the world did I not know that Mark Sanford had been elected to the U.S. Congress in 2013?! I only found ouARC for review.
Dear Lord in Heaven, how in the world did I not know that Mark Sanford had been elected to the U.S. Congress in 2013?! I only found out JUST NOW when I looked up his Wikipedia entry to see during what years the events in the book took place (I remember the scandal, but couldn't remember the year and Swaim doesn't include any years on the book.)
Some days I hate America.
Barton Swaim worked as a speechwriter for then-Governor Mark Sanford from 2007 until Sanford left office in 2010, (he was never impeached, and never resigned) so he had a front row seat for Sanford's brief, and small, rise in the national spotlight (he famously refused federal stimulus funds and his arguments against accepting these were remarkably sound, even to this dyed-in-the-wool liberal) and his ignominious fall from grace. I'm a former Governor's appointee in a small, Southern state, so I know a bit about the type of politics of which Swaim speaks, and I think he generally does a good job of describing the overall atmosphere - lots of people who have very little power thinking they are making momentous decisions, but actually doing very little.
That isn't necessarily true of a governor, of course, and Sanford was quite an interesting character, even outside the scandal - to say "he didn't play well with others" was a massive understatement. The legislature seemed to hate him (despite the fact he was a Republican and South Carolina is a bright red state), and most of his staffers appeared to feel the same way - some were openly hostile to the Governor's face and no one that Swaim describes held him in any type of esteem (I found this a bit disingenuous. Anyone in Sanford's position would have brought some toadies along.). However, by any estimation Sanford was a difficult boss and a hard-ass, with an emphasis on the "ass". Therefore it appears that no one was particularly upset when he disappeared, nor did anyone feel very sorry for him when his secret (the Argentinian mistress) was revealed, except to the extent it impacted their own jobs. Sanford was also unapologetic to the public and to his staff (the book suggests, but doesn't say, that he treated his wife and sons the with the same indifference).
Overall, this likely would have made a better two-part article for a magazine versus a whole book. Swaim spends most of the last chapter arguing that politicians, by their very natures are searching first and foremost for their own glory and can, therefore, never be trusted. He's correct, but I don't know that Sanford's story is the best one to illustrate this truth. It is a quick read, and anyone who has served in state government will laugh at some of Swaim's co-workers (or recognize them). Nicely done. ...more
McGinniss, as always, is an excellent writer and he gets interesting information through his interviews with many Alaskans (and moving in next door...McGinniss, as always, is an excellent writer and he gets interesting information through his interviews with many Alaskans (and moving in next door....GENIUS publicity!) He focuses almost completely on her time in Alaska, and barely touches on her Vice-Presidential run (good call, since it's been skewered pretty thoroughly elsewhere). His point that "those who know her best believe her least" is borne out over and over again.
The pity here is that by the time this book was published about 96% of America had decided that Sarah Palin was over as any sort of national political figure - I guess we've moved on to the craziness that is Michelle Bachmann. I know there are some solid, non-crazy Republican women out there....why can't any of them be considered viable national candidates? I would be so bummed if I was a Republican woman. ...more
Interesting, quick read. If you thought you couldn't despise John Edwards more than you already do...well, surprise! Young presents himself as a bit TInteresting, quick read. If you thought you couldn't despise John Edwards more than you already do...well, surprise! Young presents himself as a bit TOO perfect (perhaps in response to criticisms of him by Elizabeth Edwards) and while he made some terrible decisions, a reader definitely gets his side too. And Elizabeth! Between this book and GAME CHANGE, I can barely look at her....more