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McCain's Promise: Aboard the Straight…

McCain's Promise: Aboard the Straight Talk Express with John McCain…

by David Foster Wallace

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Looking back after the Bush II and Obama administrations, it might be hard to imagine why there would be something promising about McCain or why he would be the subject of a fascinating campaign book. Over the past twelve years, McCain has calcified into a strictly partisan politician. At the time the book was written, McCain was more of the maverick that he claimed to be in the 2008 election. In 2000, McCain was the less-polished, more sincere alternative to the establish-picked George W. Bush.
This brief book (originally this was a piece for Rolling Stone, that was severely cut to fit the magazine) follows McCain in South Carolina after his surprise win in the New Hampshire primaries. Because Wallace was writing for Rolling Stone, Wallace was not granted any access to the candidate. The book is like Roger & Me in a sense, that you never get to see the subject of the piece up close. Wallace ends up spending a lot of his time with the camera crews of the various news organizations. The title of the magazine piece was "Up Simba", which is what one of the camera men grunts each time he lifts his video camera. The camera men offer a unique perspective to the campaign. Wallace discusses some of the more absurd aspects of a political campaign such as: "the scrum", the surrounding of the candidate by TV camera men as the candidate leaves a venue and heads to the bus; or where do the huge American flags come from and what happens to them after the rallies. This a unique piece of political reporting and if you'd like an outsider's point of view on campaigns, I would highly recommend this book. ( )
  cblaker | Aug 25, 2012 |
So I think McCain is a right-wing slime bucket with the charisma of old chewing-gum, and David Foster Wallace thinks there's a lot more to him, much of it really good. One of the marks of a good political essay, for me, is showing an aspect of a person or a process that I have firm views on and re-jigging those views; Wallace does this really well, in the same way that he made me think better of tennis-players in a previous essay. Wallace is a seriously good essayist in the New Journalism Rolling Stone school, and his death is a significant loss. I shall certainly look out for his novels. ( )
1 vote JackTheRabbit | Oct 14, 2008 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0316040533, Paperback)

Is John McCain "For Real?"

That's the question David Foster Wallace set out to explore when he first climbed aboard Senator McCain's campaign caravan in February 2000. It was a moment when Mccain was increasingly perceived as a harbinger of change, the anticandidate whose goal was "to inspire young Americans to devote themselves to causes greater than their own self-interest." And many young Americans were beginning to take notice.

To get at "something riveting and unspinnable and true" about John Mccain, Wallace finds he must pierce the smoke screen of spin doctors and media manipulators. And he succeeds-in a characteristically potent blast of journalistic brio that not only captures the lunatic rough-and-tumble of a presidential campaign but also delivers a compelling inquiry into John McCain himself: the senator, the POW, the campaign finance reformer, the candidate, the man.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:16:08 -0400)

Offers a close-up look at John McCain and his campaign for president in 2000, exploring both the candidate's personality and the posturing, spin, and media manipulation of presidential elections.

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