, Andrew Young's tell-all book about working for John Edwards from 1998 to 2008, was released last Saturday. Young, of course, made headlines
as the fall guy during the Rielle Hunter/John Edwards sex scandal, going so far as to lie about being the father of Edwards's love child. I read The Politician
in two big gulps, and I'm here to tell you: Don't bother with this one
. All the nastiest truths of working for John Edwards—that he blamed aides for allowing him to have an affair with Hunter, that he became more and more arrogant as he got closer and closer to the presidency, that he obsessed over his hair—have already made the headlines. There are only a few anecdotes in the book that haven't already been mined and sprayed all over the news. All you get out of reading The Politician
is an overlong trip through Young's mind. Young, frankly, is not that smart and comes across as a highly unreliable narrator.
If you're in the mood for sleazy political writing, I'd instead recommend that you take a look at John Heilemann and Mark Halperin's Game Change
, which came out last month. Edwards only appears in Game Change
several times, but those appearances basically sum up the entirety of The Politician
: He goes from a smarmy politician with airs to a deluded, powerless freak in a few short months
. Game Change
tracks the Democratic primaries and 2008 political race in their entirety, and nearly every page has some insidery bit of gossip that will have you forever doubting the integrity of any human being who decides to run for President. It's like a good V.C. Andrews novel: You can't look away from the shameful behavior, no matter how hard you try.
A few of the revelations in Game Change, especially Bill Clinton's casual racism in private conversations and his anger at being called a racist, will make you think differently about familiar politicians you thought you understood. My personal favorite quote is credited to John McCain:
"FUCK YOU! FUCK, FUCK, fuck fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck!!!"
McCain let out the stream of sharp epithets, both middle fingers raised and extended, barking in his wife's face. He was angry; she had interrupted him.
There are parts of Game Change that feel a little shaky (for instance: How do Halperin and/or Heilemann know exactly how many fucks to attribute to McCain above, let alone the three exclamation points?) but it's a fresh look at a story we all know by heart. It's thrilling in that skanky book kind of way, and it's compelling in a way that The Politician never tries to be. It's pure, dishy soap-opera fun.