With wit and humor, rare candor, and a wealth of detail, Shrum vividly recounts the real personalities and real forces that shaped the outcome of the closest and most important elections of our time. We are there with him in the back rooms, on the planes, and in the motorcades with Ted Kennedy, Al Gore, John Kerry, John Edwards, and Bill and Hillary Clinton.
Shrum reveals the manipulations and limitations of old and new forms of political persuasion, from the historic and sometimes controversial speeches he wrote to the negative ads he created for national and statewide candidates, from prepping presidential nominees for critical debates to the deployment of a new political weapon: the Internet.
He lifts the curtain on decisive moments. Did John Kerry and John Edwards actually believe in the Iraq war they voted for? What was the real reason the Kerry campaign didn't respond faster to the Swift Boat attacks? Why didn't Al Gore let Bill Clinton campaign all-out in 2000? How did Clinton get through the first perilous week of the Lewinsky scandal?
This is a provocative journey through recent history: George McGovern's antiwar campaign of 1972, the improbable rise of Jimmy Carter, Senate campaigns that made historic breakthroughs and shaped the presidential contests of the future, the gifts that made Bill Clinton a great politician, and the circumstances and calculations that kept him from being a great president. As strategist, adviser, and often friend to the leaders he enlisted with, Shrum shows them as they are, with their strengths and human weaknesses - as well as his own.
I found "No Excuses" to be a fascinating glimpse behind the curtain and a look into the inner workings of political campaigns as told by a man who was part of the machine.
His observations confirmed suspicions, made me dislike some of my least favorite politicians more, and even to respect some of them more. Though Shrum himself does not narrate, the narration is very good and effortless. It is not difficult to believe the voice to be that of Robert Shrum.
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Everything you wanted to know about political campaigning and more. A great read.
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