Last weekend I gave myself eyestrain reading The Audacity to Win by David Plouffe, Obama's campaign manager. The book was very interesting. Now, admittedly, I voted for Obama and have always been fascinated by behind-the-scenes political stuff so if you're not a democrat or not terribly into politics, this book might not pique your interest. However, if you have any interest at all, this book will hold your attention. Did I mention I read the whole thing in about 36 hours (and gave myself eyestrain in the process)?
The book, written by Obama's campaign manager, starts at the veryyy beginning, before Obama has even decided he wanted to run. It outlines the initial meetings, the strategy, the staff picks, everything. It really lays it all out there in terms of how the campaign was run, from the inside-out. Plouffe is a pretty good writer and he's obviously a strategic genius but manages not to bog down the story arc in the book with too much technical number-crunching and strategy talk. Make no mistake, he does talk strategy a lot, but it's in a way that the average person (like myself) could understand.
He also talks about how Obama wasn't one of those "I've wanted to be President since I was a kid" people but instead about how he thought that at this point in the country's history, he thought he could do a good job solving the problems that we as a nation face. I thought that was an interesting way to frame the decision for a presidential run. Plouffe also talks about how hardworking Barack and Michelle were, and how committed they were from the beginning. The bulk of the book talks about the primary race against Hillary. Now, I was all for Hillary at the beginning but started to lose respect for her as the race intensified. After reading this book, I'm even more disappointed. This is not new news necessarily but her campaign was in the hole $30 million and kept going. She did not concede and acknowledge that Barack was going to get the nomination, no, her campaign kept spending money they didn't have, which forced the Obama campaign to spend money (that they did have). Then, when all was said and done, they wanted the Obama campaign to pay the debt of the Clinton campaign. This just made me red with anger, not the least because hello, do you know what else one could do with $30 million? The relief effort in Haiti comes to mind, among other things. That said, Plouffe did acknowledge that Hillary made a very compelling speech at the Democratic National Convention that graciously supported Obama wholeheartedly.
It also gets very touchy feely about how hard everyone worked and how much the campaign depended on supporters and the grassroots effort. There were several points in the book at which my eyes misted up a little bit. Plouffe (and, presumably, the rest of the campaign) really seemed to appreciate how hard everyone worked and how much they believed in Obama. It really warmed my cold dead heart, especially now that things are going less than stellar for the Democratic party (although that's another post for another time).
Anyway, I've yammered on enough about this book but I heartily recommend it. Up next: The Piano Teacher by Janice Y.K. Lee.