What It Takes (Magill Book Reviews)
Evocative of Tom Wolfe’s THE RIGHT STUFF (1979) in its stream-of-consciousness style and of Hunter S. Thompson’s FEAR AND LOATHING ON THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL 1972 (1973) in its almost surrealistic tone, the book seeks answers to two basic questions. First, what manner of man would be so vain as to seek the office of President of the United States? Second, is success possible without sacrificing one’s privacy, humanity, even sanity? Cramer thinks not (and might have more aptly titled his tome WHATEVER IT TAKES). In his opinion, George Bush prevailed in 1988 precisely because he gave himself over totally to a tawdry process which turned him into a shill and a chameleon.
Gary Hart emerges as the book’s unlikely hero. A member of the transitional “silent generation” which came of age in the 1950’s, Hart’s visionary “New Ideas,” his ironic sense of humor and his contempt for politics-as-horse-race infuriated the media and got him branded as a weird loner with an identity problem. Cramer suggests that the Donna Rice affair may have been a mere flirtation, and that what really doomed Gary Hart’s candidacy was his refusal to sacrifice his freedom. Highly recommended, especially for political junkies.
Sources for Further Study
Chicago Tribune. June 28, 1992, XIV, p. 3.
The Christian Century. CIX, August 12, 1992, p. 731.
Los Angeles Times Book Review. July 12, 1992,...
(The entire section is 265 words.)
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What It Takes (Magill's Literary Annual 1991-2005)
The bottom was dropping out…everywhere. The last states—Texas, Arkansas, Oklahoma—states where he had a chance, till the end…well, this was the end. His numbers were melting like butter in a pan.
And even then, they meant to fly him on that lousy plane (no bathroom—no one would trust himself to have a beer)…across four hours of the country…again…to Miami, to another motel, middle of the night…Florida was only on the schedule for a fund-raiser in West Palm Beach. But the fund was canceled now…All he had was breakfast at a senior citizens’ center—seven in the morning on three hours’ sleep, in a state that was lost…yet the pros scheduled Dick to eat Raisin Bran and chat with his elderly tablemates while an old man in plaid pants and dyed orange hair entertained with his rendition of “New York, New York.”
And even then, on Super Tuesday, the day of his demise, [Congressman] Dick [Gephardt] did it.
The stream-of-consciousness style and suggestive title of What It Takes are reminiscent of Tom Wolfe’s The Right Stuff (1979), while the satirical and at times almost surrealistic tone evokes Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail ’72 (1973). Its theme of politics as all-consuming horse race harks back to Theodore S. White’s four-part “making of the President” series that began with the 1960 election. The difference is that while White...
(The entire section is 2394 words.)