Losers: The Road to Everyplace but the White House
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Michael Lewis is a master at dissecting the absurd: after skewering Wall Street in his national bestseller Liar's Poker, he packed his mighty pen and set out on the 1996 campaign trail. As he follows the men who aspire to the Oval Office, Lewis discovers an absurd mix of bravery and backpedaling, heroic possibility and mealy-mouthed sound bytes, and a process so ridiculous and unsavory that it leaves him wondering if everyone involved—from the journalists to the candidates to the people who voted—isn't ultimately a loser.
Pat Buchanan: becomes the first politician ever to choose a black hat over a white one.
Phil Gramm: spends twenty million dollars to convince voters of his fiscal responsibility.
John McCain: makes the fatal mistake of actually speaking his mind.
Alan Keyes: checks out of a New Hampshire hotel and tells the manager another candidate will be paying his bill.
Steve Forbes: refuses to answer questions about his father's motorcycles.
Bob Dole: marches through the campaign without ever seeming to care.
Losers is a wickedly funny, unflinching look at how America really goes about choosing a President.
All you got to do to is show up and fill in my poll. The odds of winning the five grand are much better than the odds of winning the lottery.” All the students in the room are now busy reading Morry’s poll. Some have started filling it in. Someone—one of the teachers—asks Morry if it is legal to raffle off twenty-five thousand dollars to the voters of Iowa. Morry smiles a Cheshire Cat smile and says, “All of the other campaigns have called the state attorney general’s office to ask the same
ask. One of the few things I recall from a Greek literature course in college is Homer’s insistence that kindness to strangers is the mark of a civilized person. Nestor and his sons feed Telemachus first, then ask questions later; the Cyclops questions Odysseus first, then attempts to eat him. The McCreedys have the gift of kindness to strangers. I put PETA on the list of things to be against. But now there is no getting around it: I must explain what the hell I’m doing in their kitchen. I
the camera; the baby is looking at Dole’s gnarled, wounded hand. And then I remember: Dole is not like the others in this respect. One of his great campaign fears that he’s lived with since he first ran for office thirty-eight years ago is that he’ll be handed a baby to kiss. He’s afraid that he might drop it. FEBRUARY 16–18 By the time I catch up to the Dole campaign it has lost interest in disseminating the Dole family photo album. I ask five different Dole aides the identity of the baby held
sudden desire to come forward was…the speed limit! With each passing day he’d grown more upset by Clinton’s decision not to veto any of the Republican legislation deregulating the economy. But what finally drove him around the bend and into the race was Clinton’s decision not to preserve the mandatory fifty-five-mile-per-hour speed limit that Nader himself had helped to pass into law. “It’s just as if he’s a Republican, so what’s the point?” Nader told Rogers Worthington of the Chicago Tribune.
an entirely new plane. He is drawing his audience into his peculiar vision of life: There are very few people [he says] who are happier than active citizens, even though they take a lot of brickbats and ostracism and ridicule and are in uncomfortable positions. They are furthering their sense of values. They are trying to help other people. That’s deeply ingrained in our religious/secular ethics psyche—some people think it’s more deeply ingrained than that: it’s biologically ingrained. This