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Monday Reads

All the News That’s Fit to Recommend

Should you desire to get caught up on your political reading, here are several “must reads” to start the week:

Walter Shapiro has a tough take down of Mitt Romney in The New Republic. Shapiro makes the case that there hasn’t been a major party likely nominee since Mike Dukakis (another Bay State governor) who has been so unable to excite the electorate. Here’s a line from the piece: “A new marketing campaign or a clever slogan cannot save a dog food that the dogs don’t like. So too is it with the Romney campaign. At this point, his only hope is to prevail by using about the oldest argument in politics: ‘The other guys are worse.'”

Old rule of politics: when you’re an operative – stay out of the news, which means off the front page of The New York Times. The old grey lady profiles Barack Obama’s alter ego David Plouffe in a not all together positive way.

Plouffe refused to be interviewed for the piece, a no win position, and it’s clear he’s not a favorite of the press herd. Reporter Mark Leibovich pointed out twice that Plouffe refers to the White House press as “jackals.”

Here’s a sample: “Mr. [David] Axelrod [a former business partner of Plouffe and another Obama operative], who compares his yin-yang with Mr. Plouffe to that of Oscar and Felix in the Odd Couple, is the expansive slob to Mr. Plouffe’s fastidious detail man. At a going-away party for Mr. Axelrod last year that was attended by numerous White House officials (including the president) and Axelrod pals (including the jackals), Mr. Plouffe looked as if he would rather be cleaning a litter box. He slipped out early.”

I’ve always thought it must have been both hell and irresistable trying to work in Lyndon Johnson’s White House. Harry McPherson, a gifted writer and thinker, and like Johnson a Texan, did it for most of LBJ’s presidency. By all accounts he regularly told the boss the unvarnished truth. Terence Smith at The Atlantic website has a warm tribute to McPherson who died recently at age 83.

Lloyd Grove at The Daily Beast has a preview of the two-part American Experience bio of Bill Clinton that starts tonight on PBS. Grove says: “More than a decade after leaving the White House, Bill Clintonhas yet to release his grip on our collective imagination.  The country bumpkin who makes it big in the big city, only to stumble over his own appetites and ambitions—be he Youngblood Hawke, Lonesome Rhodes, or (an utterly sinister specimen) Flem Snopes—has long been a central theme of American mythology, at once inspiring and tragic.”

Now that’s good stuff. Part one airs tonight at 8:00 pm Mountain on PBS.

And, pitchers and catchers are in camp. The great young catcher of my beloved Giants – Buster Posey – was taking throws yesterday. It’s reported he’s been told by the front office not to block the plate. Yea, right.

The weather in Idaho is grey and cold this morning, but somewhere the sun shines and grown men play the boy’s game again. Maybe winter is close to being over. I hope.