web analytics
April 18, 2014 / 18 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post
Spa 1.2 Combining Modern Living in Traditional Jerusalem

A unique and prestigious residential project in now being built in Mekor Haim Street in Jerusalem.



Home » InDepth » Monitor »

A Screamingly Funny Memoir


Media-Monitor-logo

Share Button

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

Share Button

About the Author: Jason Maoz is the Senior Editor of The Jewish Press.


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.

No Responses to “A Screamingly Funny Memoir”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Flyers ordered Jews to appear at a designated location in Ukraine, in Sept., 1941. The next day, the Jews lined up at the Babi Yar Ravine.
‘Jews Must Register’ Flyer in Ukraine an Echo of Babi Yar
Latest Indepth Stories
matza

If itis a mitzva to eat matza all Pesach, then why is there no berakha attached to it?

Masked Palestinian Authority Arabs hurl blocks at Israel Police during and after "worship" at Temple Mount mosque. (archive photo)

When we are united with unconditional love, no stone will be raised against us by our enemies.

Haredim riot after draft-dodger is arrested.

The reporter simply reports the news, but it is greater to be inspired to better the situation.

Bitton-041814

The Big Bang theory marked the scientific community’s first sense of the universe having a beginning.

Freeing convicted murderers returns the status of Jewish existence to something less than sanctified.

“The bigger they are the harder they fall” describes what God had in mind for Olmert.

We, soldiers of the IDF, who stand guard over the people and the land, fulfill the hopes of the millions of Jewish people across the generations who sought freedom.

How much is the human mind able to grasp of the Divine?

Jews have brought the baggage of the galut (exile) mentality to the modern state of Israel.

The Haggadah is an instruction manual on how to survive as strangers in strange lands.

It’s finally happened. New York Times public editor Margaret Sullivan reported on her blog that “many readers…wrote to object to an [April 2] article…on the breakdown in peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians,” claiming “[they] found the headline misleading and the article itself lacking in context.” Ms. Sullivan provided one such letter, quoted the […]

Nor did it seem relevant that according to widely circulated media reports, Rev. Sharpton was caught on an FBI surveillance video discussing possible drug sales with an FBI agent.

Jewish soldiers in the Polish forces often encountered anti-Semitic prejudice.

When the state was established, gedolim went to Ben-Gurion and asked him not to draft women and, later, yeshiva bachrim.

More Articles from Jason Maoz
Bob Grant

What really makes one wonder about the affinity felt by certain Jews for Grant was the welcome mat he put out for some of the country’s most pernicious anti-Semites.

Camelot-112213

With 2013 marking half a century since Kennedy’s fateful limousine ride in Dallas, the current revels are exceeding the revisionist frenzies of years past, with a seemingly endless parade of books, articles and television specials designed to assure us that, despite everything that has come to light about him since his death, JFK was a great president, or at least a very good president who would have been great had his life not been so cruelly cut short.

As someone who for the past fifteen years has been writing a column that largely focuses on the news media, I’ve read what is no doubt an altogether unhealthy number of books on the subject. Most of them were instantly forgettable while some created a brief buzz but failed to pass the test of time. And then there were those select few that merited a permanent spot on the bookshelf.

George W. Bush has been getting some positive media coverage lately, with recent polls showing him at least as popular as his successor, Barack Obama, and a big new book about the Bush presidency by New York Times chief White House correspondent Peter Baker (Days of Fire, Doubleday) portraying Bush as a much more hands-on chief executive than his detractors ever imagined.

Readers who’ve stuck with the Monitor over the years will forgive this rerun of sorts, but as we approach the fortieth anniversary of the Yom Kippur War – and with the stench of presidential indecisiveness hanging so heavily over Washington these days – it seemed only appropriate to revisit Richard Nixon’s role in enabling Israel to recover from the staggering setbacks it suffered in the first week of fighting.

Shakespeare had it right. The evil that men do indeed lives after them. Case in point: Nahum Goldmann, who served in a variety of Jewish and Zionist organizational leadership posts from the 1920s through the 1970s.

Oscar “Ossie” Schectman, who scored the first basket in the history of the league that evolved into the National Basketball Association, died last week at age 94.

It’s certainly been a while, hasn’t it? And yet it seems like the conversation was never really interrupted, as I’ve enjoyed, in the three and a half months since this column last appeared, many an interesting exchange, via e-mail and phone, with some very intelligent readers.

    Latest Poll

    Now that Kerry's "Peace Talks" are apparently over, are you...?







    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...

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: