Memo To: Dick Morris
From: Jude Wanniski
Re: "Behind the Oval Office"
I've heard reports that your book is not selling as well as expected, in spite of your notoriety and the many national television interviews you've had to promote it. I'll have to admit that I did not immediately run out to buy a copy, even though I've been enormously impressed with your political skills. It was not until I was sufficiently impressed after seeing you on "Evans&Novak" that I decided to buy and read the book. I'm glad I did and can now conclude that you are indeed a political genius of the first order. I'd recommend the book to anyone who would like a better fix on Bill Clinton than has been available to date, from the David Maraniss biography and the Bob Woodward book, although both were excellent as well. Bob Novak told me last year that you were on the level of John Sears when Sears was in his prime. The fact that President Clinton came to the same conclusion is the only reason he is enjoying a second term. What helped you most was your understanding of the Republican mindset, because you had spent so much time under a GOP hat. It may be that this is the first thing that occurred to me when I saw you at work in early 1995, perhaps because I am a Republican after having spent more than half of my adult life — from teenage years to 41 — as a Democrat. Funny, but Trent Lott also spent his early years as a Democrat, which may be why bipartisanship is possible with him, where it was not with Newt. The fact that President Reagan spent the first half of his life as a Democrat did not hurt him either.
You are now in political no-man's-land, because Republicans are afraid of you for having outmaneuvered them at every turn, while Democrats would like to drive a stake through your heart for having succeeded with your strategies while theirs failed. Everyone would like you to go away. Your only allies are in the press corps, because they do appreciate a keen political mind, and that you have. While you are attempting to repair things on the home front (I was happy to learn), you might consider writing a weekly column for one of the syndicates, or knocking out an occasional piece for The New Republic, which I'm sure Mike Kelly would like to see. That would open up regular guest slots on shows like "McLaughlin Group" and Chris Matthews' "Hardball." There are so few political journalists who know what they are talking about beyond the superficialities that you would make a welcome addition to the talk-show lineups.
P.S. I was happy to see you think Jack Kemp will be the GOP nominee in 2000, but I gather you believe he is too conservative to be elected over your Demo choice, Al Gore. It does puzzle me that you consider Jack a conservative Republican, when most conservative Republicans think he may be too liberal. I'd like to kick that around with you one day. I also have some major quibbles about your views on how and why the campaign unfolded the way it did. By the way, the best paragraph in the book was your summation of Clinton on P. 164. I include it here for my website fans:
Bill Clinton's intelligence is characterized by tremendous strengths punctuated by blind spots. He absorbs and retains data at incredible speeds with pinpoint accuracy and near total recall. He knows endless facts and perfectly encodes the exact advice he gets from each source, down to the slightest nuance. He carries these details in his brain while he works through a decision. But he finds it hard assigning relative importance to the various facts and opinions. He is slow to see patterns and slower still to process them to conclusions. His perfectionism does not permit the rough assumptions from which to build the general theories that are vital to decision making. Of course, once Clinton reaches a decision, he is superb at communicating it to the greatest of intellects and the least educated of people. He reaches them both.