Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Book/Rant: Confessions of a Political Hitman, by Stephen Marks (2008)

This book is lousy. Which is unfortunate, because there’s a great tale to be told about the world of opposition researchers, who dig up dirt on political candidates.

Marks insists on referring to himself throughout by his alter ego “Oppo Man,” a device that gets tired instantly. The book is clogged with lazy writing; Rudy Giuliani’s 1989 mayoral campaign is caught “flat-footed” twice in three pages, while Congressman Richard Gephardt responds “lamely” twice in two pages. And it comes off the presses past its sell-by date, with Marks singing the praises of sure-to-be-GOP-nominee Giuliani and offering a handful of tips to John McCain “if he’s still even a factor in the race.”

But the book’s worst feature is its truly abysmal copy editing. Not just the dropped punctuation marks that seem commonplace in every book published these days. I mean the misspellings of names.

I’ll let “Brittany” Spears slide. But a book that purports to give you the skinny on how politics really works should not feature appearances by former House Minority Leader Bob “Michael,” California Congressman Dave “Dreir,” Florida Governor and Senator Bob “Gramm,” Utah Senator “Orin” Hatch, New Jersey gubernatorial candidate “Brett” Schundler, Michigan governor “Gennifer” Granholm, and Pennsylvania Congressman “Kurt” Weldon.

I’m not a shadowy political operative. I’m just a guy who reads the newspaper every day. And even I knew those names were wrong.

Oh, and “Hitman” isn’t one word.