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'O: A Presidential Novel' -- By Anonymous, Starring Obama and 'Self-Obsessive' D.C.

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A new story of O has arrived on some capital doorsteps, including mine. "O: A Presidential Novel," is a fictional – or is it non-fiction? – account of the Obama White House and the upcoming 2012 campaign by an author named "Anonymous."

Yes, it's another who-wrote-it mystery. "What can I tell you about the author of O? Very little," teases Simon & Schuster Executive Vice President and Publisher Jonathan Karp in a letter to readers. "The author is someone who has been in the room with Barack Obama and knows this world intimately."

Whether Karp's "room" is the Oval Office or a vast hotel ballroom is not clear. From the first 50 pages, I can say this: Many of the clever descriptions and conversations will seem familiar to close observers of the president and his administration.

You don't have to be a close observer to get the cover art: an O with a large ear attached to each side. "What's going on between those ears?" asks the first line of the Simon & Schuster press release on the book, officially due out Jan. 25.

My reading so far (including the book jacket) reveals some characters who are composites or imaginary, and some who are instantly recognizable. There's the president's closest adviser, Avi Samuelson, aka David Axelrod, "whose rumpled, tired and melancholy appearance belied his effectiveness" and whose "lumbering" walk revealed how long it had been since he exercised.

There's Willem Janssen (John Harris/Jim VandeHei), who "left a promising career at a newspaper of record to start Body Politic (Politico), with financing from a bored billionaire and a plan to make his new venture irresistible to Washington insiders by accelerating the news cycle from a day to an hour with hypercoverage of everything said or done by anyone with political credentials." His particular genius: "monetizing Washington's self-obsessive nature."

And we can't forget Bianca Stefani (Ariana Huffington), "the mercurial founder of the eponymous Stefani Report (Huffington Post), a news-aggregating, occasionally muckraking blogger free-for-all website that became the cyber newspaper of record for leftist activists, intellectuals, and dilettantes from Williamsburg to West Hollywood."

The Obama described in the book, or at least its first 50 pages, is an Obama we know. He doesn't believe his luck or timing are particularly good – rather, he believes he can exceed expectations in whatever he attempts, "which allowed him to glimpse possibilities in faint chances." His basketball style (his political style?) is "crafty and smooth. He let the game come to him and played for the win . . . He looked to pass more than he did to score. And he seemed more pleased with himself when he dished a no-look or behind-the-back for an assist."

There is interior monologue that backs up the author's conceit that this president is chafing at the limitations of the presidency. Who knows if "Anonymous" heard it or made it up, but it rings true to read about O's frustration that CEOs, Cabinet secretaries, four-star generals and members of Congress "can golf any goddamn weekend they please. But if the president plays a round or two on the weekend, the press totals them up, checks the genders and campaign contributions of his foursomes, and runs stories about America's golf-crazy president next to reports on that week's casualties in Afghanistan."

It also rings true when Anonymous says that "O" tries not to "rant out loud. Droll sarcasm was his preferred medium when displeased."

Karp explains that Anonymous has chosen anonymity to "avoid being pigeonholed, or ignored, or scorned." The author, he says, is following in the tradition of "Jane Austen, the Brontes, The Federalist Papers, The Story of O, and, of course, Lemony Snicket."

Not to mention Joe Klein, who wrote the classic "Primary Colors" under the pen name "Anonymous."

Klein has denied authorship of the latest political novel of mysterious provenance. So have a lot of other Washington types, so many that the publisher is nervous about the field narrowing to the point where we'll all figure out who wrote the book. Simon & Schuster is going to some lengths to prevent this, and even asked NBC's Chuck Todd to avoid saying yes or no if asked The Big Question.

"From S&S: 'You may be asked to comment on whether or not you are the author. If so, it would be great if you refrained from commenting,'" Todd tweeted Tuesday.

Experience shows, however, that all those denials don't amount to a hill of beans. After all, Klein initially -- and repeatedly -- denied that he wrote "Primary Colors." The latest Mr. or Ms. Anonymous is bound to 'fess up eventually, especially if the book gets good reviews.

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10 Comments

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ay1nd3nycny

This back and forth has really got to stop its getting annoying nuff said

January 27 2011 at 12:07 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Lou Jacobus

When people are so busy looking at and judging, others for flaws; then it is easy to pass judgement from yourself. You hide be hind your publisher or some other "trusted" by you to keep you identy a "mystery". All I can say is "Look in the mirror" Presedent Obama is doing rather well considering that his congress, Democrats, as well as republicans appear to be working against our President. Shame on you, our congress. You work for me. I hired President Obama as our president, to speak for me, one of the people that you asked me to allow you to represent Me. Few were any of you, gathered to the table working together to figure out how to create a workable health care plan that was good for all of the people. All wages, all stages, be they rich or poor, Everyone needs good health care, we all die. We all need to visit a doctor. However, Medical care should not be optional. It just should be.
Many of you say you are Christians, I then say to you "are called to be more like Jesus, looking out for us." History has proven that the rich always want and have slaves. You can say it is the same today, only we are calling it lower class, middle class, upper class and the super rich class. When we tried to count on the super rich class to help the all the other classes of people,they turn there backs on the Americans that are in serious trouble, but are willing to help 3rd world countries.
Also...a health care bill should not have attachments. So as the person that agreed to give you the job, I am very dissatisfied with your preformance this far. I want one republican and one democrat to get together for 6 hours a day, looking over the Health Care Reform Bill, removing all data that is not health care. I want this task done by the assigned 2 people, in 2 weeks at the max. Then I want each of you to go back to your party and tell your peers what was eliminate and what they need to go back to the table and write their own bill for these items if they want to keep it on the table. Also, congress WILL create a health care Bill that is workable for all. The 2 appointed members of congress will then both come before all the congress and share the new Bill they will be presenting our new Health Care Bill. This will take no longer than 6 weeks. (The reason you are given time restraints is for the slow readers or people unable to read to get some one to read for them) once you have the Health Care Bill in order, share what you will be sharing with congress, with our Presedent. Congress will roll up there sleeves and get to work. Reprogram your thinking, you work for ME! you report to President...Who has come to me and asked me my piorities. and listened. Congress' agenda was what can I do to look good in my state so they will vote me in again. Wake up congress, I hired you too, but you are still a one man dog and pony act. Dogs and ponies we're not hired. You were all hired "by the people." You need to serve in our best intrest, and make things better for me. President Obama was hired to keep you on task. Not to stand by his self and do all the work. Most of you should be saying, "lead, follow, or get out of the way, make me an instrument of a better tomorrow. The rest of you should hand in your resignation. Now, I expect you to get to work. Make America the nation that WE all want it to be. In 6 weeks, I should hear how Congress supported our President.

January 20 2011 at 2:28 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
themaskctf

WOW! How did the liberal press(and the White House propaganda machine)even allow this to be published? Hey Simon & Schuster: I'm gonna spend my $$ on a copy of this!! Gonna love to see someone take this clown down a peg or two...

January 19 2011 at 5:08 PM Report abuse +23 rate up rate down Reply
fpfp040408

Between those ears is greatness for which this nation will one day be eternally grateful and President Obama will sit next to all the other great Americans, like, MLK, JFK, LBJ, Washington, Jefferson, Hamilton, Franklin, Adams, Lincoln, Eisenhower, Einstein, ETC

January 19 2011 at 2:28 PM Report abuse -63 rate up rate down Reply
3 replies to fpfp040408's comment
Kenneth

Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie suggested in an interview published today that a long-form, hospital-generated birthcertificate for Barack Obama may not exist within the vital records maintained by the Hawaii Department of Health.

Abercrombie told the Honolulu Star Advertiser he was searching within the Hawaii Department of Health to find definitive vital records that would prove Obamawas born in Hawaii, because the continuing eligibility controversy could hurt the president's chances of re-election in 2012.

Donalyn Dela Cruz, Abercrombie's spokeswoman in Honolulu, ignored again yesterday another in a series of repeated requests made by WND for an interview with the governor.

Toward the end of the interview, the newspaper asked Abercrombie: "You stirred up quite a controversy with your comments regarding birthers and your plan to release more information regarding President Barack Obama's birth certificate. How is that coming?"

In his response, Abercrombie acknowledged the birth certificate issue will have "political implications" for the next presidential election "that we simply cannot have."

January 19 2011 at 9:09 AM Report abuse +24 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Kenneth's comment
Dottie

Seriously, don't you and the rest of the birthers think this is a dead horse, that needs to be buried. He's president, get over it. Suck it up, like so many other minorities did for centuries the man in the white house isn't white, get a grip, spank your monkey, have another drink, hit another pipe, complain at your next Klan meeting, whatever, but just let it go. In a few years, if he's smart, he will walk away. There is faction in this country, mostly who like to swill tea, who like them white, rich, and stupid. You didn't get it this time, but don't worry I am sure the Republicans will find a way to make sure you get it next time. Its only two more years. You had four years of Bush Jr. you can do two years of President Obama standing on your head. Come on now, man up, stop your whinnying, and iron your sheet you'll need it next Saturday.

January 20 2011 at 2:06 AM Report abuse -5 rate up rate down Reply
tistolaugh

The headline is almost correct, except it should say a "self-obssessed Obama and self-obssessive DC" because I have never seen a president so dazzled by his own voice and self-perceived brilliance. And I have been around awhle.

January 19 2011 at 12:27 AM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply

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