With Gary Hart depleted, the book really lives up to its title again this week with the taking of the 'what' from Biden and Gephardt. Feeling the strain, not seeing the progress and wondering if it's worth it... the 'what' has been taken, folks.
|Biden at the August 1987 Democratic candidates forum|
So there's that problem, and then the other thing that happens when you're running for president is that other things happen. Like Supreme Court nominations that mess up your tidy campaign calendar. Reagan nominates Robert Bork to the Court, and Joe fumbles his reaction. It's around this time that Tom Shales writes that Biden "comes across on TV as someone whose fuse is always lit," and he's right: the propensity to explode. When he screwed up the Bork thing, he tells the gurus, it's not just his presidential campaign that's ruined -- it's his entire Senate career!
|First Ladies Forum, 1987|
The Gephardts were also overwhelmed. "It was like camping without the woods. Without the privacy. And with lots more stuff." That's how Iowa was for Jane Gephardt. Try doing laundry and running a presidential campaign at the same time. It's no fun. Jane is exhausted, to the point where it manifests in her humor at the start of her speech to the First Ladies Forum. Meanwhile, the consultants, Shrum and Carrick and Reilly, had to get Dick to kill, kill KILL Dukakis at the forum, and... Gephardt didn't get in a single dig. It was just as the consultants expected: he was too nice, would back down first chance he got. So they sent him back out and nothing again. Rich Gephardt, the high school actor, was in a "zombie-zone," trying to remember too many lines, too many stage directions all at once. They wiped his makeup off. This was a role he could not perform.
|Even Gephardt's son would tower over Dukakis, Dick's consultants giggled.|
Kitty, though, that was a different story. Presenting herself perfectly at a first ladies forum, really nailing it. And then, on a commercial flight stuck on the tarmac, she blows up with a 'DO YOU KNOW WHO I AM?' in front of a Boston Herald reporter.
A President Biden/President Bartlet Moment
Biden was done playing to the 1960's culture. "I don't want this crap. This is your story, not my story!" Biden shouts at Pat Caddell, the maddest guru in the guru madness. Luckily for Caddell, he later got the opportunity to craft the president he wanted: Josiah Barlet of The West Wing, where he served as a consultant.
This week, there was the particularly hilarious scene in which the Biden household is scrambling to get to the announcement in Wilmington (I picture the opening scene of Home Alone) and Caddell stops everyone in their tracks, shouting, "LISTEN TO THIS NOW" and proceeds to play the finale to Les Misérables.
You just know that this scene from the West Wing's season three finale came from the inspired mind of Caddell.
Share more quotes and scenes in the comments.