Blogging the Bookshelf

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The Price You Pay to Lead – “Primary Colors: A Novel of Politics” – Anonymous 

June 15th, 2011 · No Comments · Campaigning, Electoralism, Leadership, Means and Ends, Morality, Political Fiction, Politics

Only certain kinds of people are cut out for this work—and, yeah, we are not princes, by and large. Henry, you know this better than anyone. You’ve watched Larkin, you’ve watched O’Brien, you’ve watched me do it. Two thirds of what we do is reprehensible. This isn’t the way a normal human being acts. We smile, we listen— you could grow calluses on your ears from all the listening we do. We do our pathetic little favors. We fudge when we can’t. We tell them what they want to hear—and when we tell them something they don’t want to hear, it’s usually because we’ve calculated that’s what they really want. We live an eternity of false smiles—and why? Because it’s the price you pay to lead. You don’t think Abraham Lincoln was a whore before he was a president? He had to tell his little stories and smile his shit-eating, backcountry grin. He did it all just so he’d get the opportunity, one day, to stand in front of the nation and appeal to ‘the better angels of our nature.’ That’s when the bullshit stops. And that’s what this is all about. The opportunity to do that, to make the most of it, to do it the right way—because you know as well as I do there are plenty of people in this game who never think about the folks, much less their ‘better angels.’ They just want to win. They want to be able to say, ‘I won the biggest thing you can win.’ And they’re willing to sell their souls, crawl through sewers, lie to the people, divide them, play to their worst fears—


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