Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Steyn, Klein, and Turnip Day

Mark Steyn reviews Joe Klein’s new book on American politics:

Half a century later, when Bob Dole accepted the nomination at the '96 Republican convention, the newspapers were full of profiles of his speechwriter, the novelist Mark Helprin. Politics today is like the Pompidou Centre in Paris: the plumbing's all on the outside. So, in a perfect distillation of the postmodern campaign, pundits discussed how effective Helprin had been in recreating Dole as an authentic human being, by putting in lots of pseudo-Turnip moments about the senator's supposedly beloved small town in Kansas, the grain elevator and so forth. Dole lives at the Watergate Building; he's not a small-town boy, he's the ultimate Beltway insider. He has a dark sardonic wit. Hiring a professional writer to reinvent him as Mister Grain Elevator was a disaster. About the only thing he does well is mordant one-liners. Everything else he muffs: he mangles the scripted folksiness and the rest comes out in impenetrable Senatese. Dole gets a passing mention in Politics Lost when Klein accompanies him to a middle school. A young girl asks him what he plans to do about acid rain and he replies, "That bill's in markup." Inspirational.

Read the entire article here.

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