Political Books

Trump Wanted to Focus on ‘Smoke-and-Mirrors’

In his new book, Ohio Gov. John Kasich retells the story that Donald Trump’s son, Don Jr., called a Kasich adviser during the 2016 presidential race and asked if the governor would consider being Trump’s vice president, the Cincinnati Enquirer reports.

Don Jr. said Kasich could be in charge of “all domestic and foreign policy,” and Trump would “be busy making American (sic) great again.”

Kasich writes: “He would leave the running of the country to someone else and keep his focus on the smoke-and-mirror aspects of the job of president, helping Americans feel that he was somehow making their lives better just by being at the helm.”

The Problem with Political Books Today

Matt Bai: “I don’t know the authors of Shattered, Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes, but they seem like capable and energetic reporters. There’s no lack of industry in the breezy book they apparently wrote in less time than it takes me to finish reading one.”

“No, my problem is with the entire genre of contemporary campaign books, which don’t illuminate the soullessness of our political culture so much as they reflect it. You can’t really treat presidential politics as a form of shallow entertainment and then claim to be shocked when a shallow entertainer wins the presidency.”

“I get why today’s political writers would want to emulate the books a lot of us grew up reading… But you can’t actually write the books that a McGinniss or a Cramer wrote now, even if you have half their talent. That’s because, to quote ‘Hamilton,’ those guys were in the room where it happened. They were witnesses to history, at a time when history hadn’t yet conspired to lock them out.”

Inside Clinton’s Doomed Campaign

Matt Taibbi reviews Shattered by Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes:

Shattered is sourced almost entirely to figures inside the Clinton campaign who were and are deeply loyal to Clinton. Yet those sources tell of a campaign that spent nearly two years paralyzed by simple existential questions: Why are we running? What do we stand for?

If you’re wondering what might be the point of rehashing this now, the responsibility for opposing Donald Trump going forward still rests with the (mostly anonymous) voices described in this book.

What Allen and Parnes captured in Shattered was a far more revealing portrait of the Democratic Party intelligentsia than, say, the WikiLeaks dumps. And while the book is profoundly unflattering to Hillary Clinton, the problem it describes really has nothing to do with Secretary Clinton. The real protagonist of this book is a Washington political establishment that has lost the ability to explain itself or its motives to people outside the Beltway.

Cuomo Made $783K from Memoir

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) “reported his income last year more than doubled from the previous year, thanks to another round of royalty payments on a 2014 HarperCollins memoir that saw lackluster sales,” the Buffalo News reports.

“In all, Cuomo has made $783,000 from HarperCollins for his book. The book sold 3,200 copies since it was published in the fall of 2014… That works out to royalty payments to Cuomo of $245 per book.”

Killers of the Flower Moon

Out today: Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann.

“In the 1920s, the richest people per capita in the world were members of the Osage Indian nation in Oklahoma. After oil was discovered beneath their land, they rode in chauffeured automobiles, built mansions, and sent their children to study in Europe.”

“Then, one by one, the Osage began to be killed off. The family of an Osage woman, Mollie Burkhart, became a prime target. Her relatives were shot and poisoned. And it was just the beginning, as more and more members of the tribe began to die under mysterious circumstances.”

Charting Hillary Clinton’s Course Into the Iceberg

The New York Times reviews Shattered by Jonathan Allen and Amy Parnes.

Although the Clinton campaign was widely covered, and many autopsies have been conducted in the last several months, the blow-by-blow details in Shattered — and the observations made here by campaign and Democratic Party insiders — are nothing less than devastating, sure to dismay not just her supporters but also everyone who cares about the outcome and momentous consequences of the election.

In fact, the portrait of the Clinton campaign that emerges from these pages is that of a Titanic-like disaster: an epic fail made up of a series of perverse and often avoidable missteps by an out-of-touch candidate and her strife-ridden staff that turned “a winnable race” into “another iceberg-seeking campaign ship.”

What Elizabeth Warren Didn’t Say

The most revealing thing about Elizabeth Warren’s new book is all the material she left out, the Boston Globe reports.

“She dispatches her decision not to run for president in little more than a page. She forgoes any autopsy of what Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party got wrong. She doesn’t even mention meeting with Clinton in Washington to discuss her prospects for joining the ticket as Clinton’s vice presidential pick.”

“Instead, Warren has produced a policy-focused (or, in her word, ‘nerdy’) book that is reflective of a politician whose future could depend on preserving Democratic alliances. Put another way, this is no Bernie Sanders-style screed.”

Buck Rips GOP Leadership In New Book

In his new book, Drain the Swamp, Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO) “describes a money-hungry, lobbyist-influenced Republican leadership,” Roll Call reports.

“He recounts in detail the contributions that House Republicans are expected to forward to their campaign arm as dues to serve on congressional committees. Lesser committee spots, such as the Judiciary panel, will set a freshman lawmaker back $220,000, Buck writes, while ‘A’ committees, such as Ways and Means, require dues of $450,000.”

Writes Buck: “Members are required to pay for committee assignments. Lobbyists, corporations, and wealthy individuals who need something from Congress raise the money.”

He also said “he’s heard third hand of instances when people may have allowed political donations to sway their votes.”

The Book Behind Bannon’s Views

The New York Times says Trump adviser Steve Bannon’s favorite book is The Fourth Turning, a 1997 work by two amateur historians, Neil Howe and William Strauss, that “lays out a theory that American history unfurls in predictable, 80-year cycles of prosperity and catastrophe.”

The book’s warning: “History is seasonal, and winter is coming.”

“The basis of his worldview — which has been described as everything from Leninist to alt-right, an extremist fringe movement associated with white nationalism — is still shrouded in mystery and conjecture. But by his own telling, much of the foundation for his political beliefs can be found in the book, which predicts that America is hurtling toward a crisis on par with the American Revolution, the Civil War and the Great Depression.”

Understanding Trump

Coming soon: Understanding Trump by Newt Gingrich.

“Trump is the only person ever elected president without holding elected political office or serving as a general in the military. His principles instead grow out of five decades of business and celebrity success. This is why President Trump behaves differently than traditional politicians – because his life experience has been unlike most traditional politicians.”