web analytics
July 5, 2015 / 18 Tammuz, 5775
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post


Home » InDepth » Monitor »

A Screamingly Funny Memoir


Media-Monitor-logo

Not since John Podhoretz’s 1993 Hell of a Ride, a hilarious yet depressing account of working in the George H.W. Bush administration, has an insider political book satisfied as much as does Speech-less: Tales of a White House Survivor (Crown Publishers), Matt Latimer’s new, screamingly funny memoir of working as a congressional staffer and then as a speechwriter, first for Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and later for President George W. Bush.

Latimer went to Washington as an idealistic and perhaps naïve young conservative only to have his eyes opened and his heart broken by the cynicism, cronyism and outright idiocy that pervade the nation’s capital. While there are a few notables – Rumsfeld in particular – who come off well in Latimer’s telling, just about everyone else, household name or not, comes in for an a well-earned skewering.

A reader quickly gets a taste from the book’s introduction of the fun to come, as Latimer writes about the day, in the fall of 2008, he learned of the economic crisis that was about to engulf the country. Keith Hennessey, director of the National Economic Council, was outlining the truly gloomy situation to Latimer and a speechwriting colleague when – well, here’s how Latimer describes it:

“In the middle of explaining the economic horrors that awaited us, Keith reached for something near his chair. It was a Mouseketeer cap. As in Mickey Mouse. What on earth? I wondered.

“Without a word of explanation, he placed the cap on his head. Then he continued talking as if nothing at all strange was happening…. One of the president’s top economic advisors was describing the end of the world while wearing mouse ears. There had to be a metaphor around here somewhere.”

Just a few pages later we come to Latimer’s evisceration of Spence Abraham, the former Michigan senator for whom he worked briefly as a special assistant, only a small part of which follows:

“Our office would have staff meetings that nearly everyone attended – except [the senator]. Senator Abraham had two assistants posted just outside his office door, apparently to prevent any ‘incidents’ from taking place, such as the senator accidentally bumping into someone who worked for him…. As special assistants, we also answered most of the letters people sent in. Sometimes they included moving stories, with a plea to the senator for help. I don’t know if he read a single letter.”

Of the many witty asides and sharp observations sprinkled throughout the book, here are two concerning New York’s senior senator, Chuck Schumer, and former New York senator and current secretary of state Hillary Clinton:

“Schumer loved media attention so much that I was half-convinced he slept every night in a suit and tie and full TV makeup.”

“Hillary Clinton was also a familiar sight. She’d run for the New York Senate seat about thirty seconds after applying for a state driver’s license and was now surrounded by a retinue of aides with nasty eyes.”

Latimer puts much of the blame for the Bush administration’s shortcomings on the shoulders of Karl Rove, who was hailed as some sort of political genius during Bush’s first term before reality caught up with him.

Rove, he writes, “had promised a golden age of Republican domination, but the truth is that while Karl was running political affairs, the Republican president’s approval rating had plummeted to an improbable low. The truth is that after Karl was promoted to run domestic policy in the second term, not a single major bill proposed by the White House passed through a Republican Congress. And the truth is that Karl oversaw an army of personnel directors who hired hacks, fired qualified public servants, blackballed others, and promoted incompetent partisans who disserved the reconstruction efforts in Iraq, federal prosecutors at the Department of Justice, and the president whom Karl was supposed to serve.”

As the Bush era drew to a close, Latimer was completely disillusioned with the political process and with politicians from both side of the aisle. By Election Day 2008, he’d reached the point where, despite having “voted happily and proudly for every Republican who ever ran for everything…. I’d lost so much faith in my party that I wasn’t even sure I was a Republican anymore.”

So, did he give in to habit and party loyalty and vote for Republican John McCain, of whom he has little good to write about in the book? Latimer doesn’t come right out and say it, but his tantalizing description of the doubt and hesitation that plagued him in the voting booth would seem to indicate the answer is no.

Jason Maoz can be reached at jmaoz@jewishpress.com

About the Author: Jason Maoz is the Senior Editor of The Jewish Press. He can be contacted at jmaoz@jewishpress.com.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “A Screamingly Funny Memoir”

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton with Prime Minister Netanyahu in 2012.
Hillary Clinton Says She Will Be Better Friend than Obama to Israel
Latest Indepth Stories
U.S. postage stamp honoring Haym Solomon.

Haym Solomon, overlooked hero of the Revolutionary War, was America’s “Funding Father.”

Jelgava Synagogue, Latvia

Latvia, July 4, 1941 they forced many Jews in the shul putting it on fire; everyone was burned alive

United Nations Building, New York City

There’s blood on the reporters’ hands AND New Israel Fund for funding groups feeding lies to the UN

Zuckerman-070315

Respect & appreciation for our country is not only a civic value but an essential Jewish one as well

When words lose meaning, the world becomes an Orwellian dystopia; a veritable Tower of Babel

Israel, like the non-radical Islamic world. will be happy see the ISIS beheaded for once.

Kids shouldn’t have “uninstructed” Internet access, better to train them how to use it responsibly

What if years from now, IS were to control substantial territory? What world havoc would that wreak?

Rambam writes the verse’s double term refers to 2 messiahs: first King David; 2nd the final Mashiach

The Gaza flotilla has been rightfully and legally blocked by Israel’s Navy, with greetings from Bibi

The president described the attack as “an act that drew on a long history of bombs and arson and shots fired at churches, not random, but as a means of control, a way to terrorize and oppress…”

“The only [candidate] that’s going to give real support to Israel is me,” said the 69-year-old Trump.

And whereas at the outset the plan was that Iran would have to surrender most of its centrifuges, it will now be able to retain several thousand.

Now oil independent, US no longer needs its former strategic alliances with Gulf States-or Israel

More Articles from Jason Maoz
Zechariah Schwarzberg, z”l

Though intimately acquainted with mankind’s darkest side, he never lost his faith&love in God or man

Front-Page-051515

Some of the president’s defenders took to arguing that the overwhelming majority of German military personnel interred in Bitburg were regular Wehrmacht soldiers who died on the battlefield and likely were not involved in atrocities against civilians.

Note also the response to the speech by the top Democrats in the House and Senate, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, both of whom have been outspoken in their criticism of Netanyahu’s upcoming visit.

The New York State comptroller manages the state’s $180.7 billion pension fund, audits the spending practices of all state agencies and local governments, oversees the New York State and Local Retirement System, reviews the New York State and City budgets, and approves billions in State contracts and spending.

While not all criticism of Israel stemmed from anti-Semitism, Podhoretz contends the level of animosity towards Israel rises exponentially the farther left one moved along the spectrum.

When you grow up in a home where your parents went through what my parents went through, you realize that life has to be meaningful. You have to be there for other people.

“It’s a lousy column and a dishonest one,” Halberstam wrote. “So close it. Or you will end up just as shabby as Safire.”

Wye would be seen to have set the groundwork for the creation of a Palestinian state

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/media-monitor/a-screamingly-funny-memoir/2009/11/18/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: