Wednesday, January 19, 2011


A couple of weeks ago, I took a wild guess that the anonymous author of the Obama novel O would turn out to be Sally Quinn. I hadn't read a word of it at the time -- it still hasn't hit the shops yet -- but now Ron Charles has reviewed it for The Washington Post and Politico's Ben Smith also has a write-up, and I'm changing my guess:

Chris Matthews.

I say that based on the fact that we know the author has "been in the room with" Obama, and on this from Smith's comments:

The author really doesn't like Arianna Huffington. The author seems to have had more fun writing her stand-in, Bianca Stefani, than anyone else in the book. A former "courtesan to the wealthy and powerful" she's "infamously changeable" and disloyal, with just "one abiding passion: her own notoriety."

So who in the world has actually been in the same room with Obama, but dislikes Huffington? I thought virtually every political and/or media insider on the face of the earth got along with her.

Well, not Matthews, who became enraged at her a couple of years ago when the HuffPo was investigating Tim Russert for a story. He's been snappish in televised discussions with her. And she's been less than kind to him over the years.

The Ron Charles review says the book isn't very interesting -- it's about Obama and his fictional 2012 GOP opponent, who is reasonable and thoughtful where it would be much more fun to have a crazy candidate.

Instead, Obama's opponent is Tom "Terrific" Morrison, the perfect amalgamation of John McCain (without the maverick instability) and Mitt Romney (without the Mormonism): "square-jawed, straight-backed, irresistibly perfect." He's got it all: military service, humility, savvy and business acumen. You think this is a setup for the big reveal - the pregnant campaign aide, the blue dress that's never been dry-cleaned, the wide stance in a public restroom - but Morrison really is a fine, upstanding man. And what's more, he's determined to run a clean, fair, courteous campaign. Wake me up when it's over.

That seems like Matthews -- boringly respectful of the GOP (in a stodgy, I-miss-Tip-and-the-Gipper-sharing-drinks kind of way) even as he's complimentary about Obama. (Charles on the book: "Obama laments that everything he did 'to alleviate the anxiety of the American middle class seemed at times only to exasperate the people more. It was as if they had expected O to turn the country around in his first month in office, and when he didn't, they hardened their hearts against him.'")

Life's a Campaign, the last book Matthews wrote, was not a success, and he was memorably humiliated by Jon Stewart when he went on Stewart's show to promote it. I could imagine that Matthews might have wanted to go in a completely different direction for his next book.

So that's my guess. And it's my final answer. This book doesn't seem worth much more speculation.

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