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What A Party!: My Life Among Democrats: Presidents, Candidates, Donors, Activists, Alligators and Other Wild Animals Paperback – February 5, 2008
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From Publishers Weekly
The ex–Democratic National Committee chair and political super– fund-raiser lives up to his nickname Mad Dog in this boisterous memoir. McAuliffe is rabidly aggressive toward Republicans (whom he describes as "willing to lie and cheat any way they could"), savaging them on talk shows and facing them down in bristling social encounters. He relentlessly pursues donors, happy to wrestle alligators and sing karaoke for checks ("for $500,000 I didn't mind humiliating myself"). He golfs, dances and plays cards with his political masters Hillary and Bill Clinton ("the Babe Ruth of American presidents"), forever preening over the role his advice and prodigious fund-raising played in their success. But on the exchange of money for access implicit in his activities, he is blustery but evasive. McAuliffe has incisive comments on the Democrats' shortcomings, especially their faintheartedness in fighting Republicans. Though he champions the Democrats as the party of the little guy—contrasting their jeans-and-barbecue shindigs with "swank, hoity-toity" GOP fund-raising events —that stance is undercut by all the name-dropping ("Ben Affleck joined Robin, Marsha, Dorothy and me for a quick tour of the skeet range") and elbow rubbing with grungily dressed billionaires. McAuliffe's inflated self-regard may give more ammunition to Republican opponents than his partisan vitriol does to Democratic allies. Photos. (Feb. 1)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.
McAuliffe, who has been involved with Democratic campaigns for the past 25 years as fund-raiser, advisor, and chairman of the Democratic National Committee during President Bush's first term, offers an energetic, behind-the-scenes look at politics. He began his career as a fund-raiser with the Carter campaign in 1980 when he became famous for wrestling an alligator. McAuliffe has gone on to raise more than $1 billion for Democrats. As an entrepreneur and millionaire, McAuliffe might be assumed to have more in common with the Republicans. But he traces his bona fides back to his childhood and his family's long-standing interest in Democratic politics. Despite his love for Democrats, he lambastes his party for failing to fight harder when the 2000 presidential election popular vote--and arguably the electoral votes as well--favored Al Gore; the Kerry campaign's reluctance to challenge Bush's qualifications as commander in chief when he allegedly had not completed his National Guard duty obligations; and a host of other sins. McAuliffe's exuberance and insider status combine to make this a fascinating look at political campaigns. Vanessa Bush
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.
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Is the book honest; does it give the unvarnished truth about what happened during the times and events that McAuliffe is writing about? Of course not, nor would you expect it to. When you read this book, you are looking for an understanding of what it was like for the dominant financial fundraiser of the Democratic Party of his generation to do what he did. From that perspective, it just doesn't get any better than McAuliffe's book.
It is not a short book either. It is close to 400 pages done with a moderate size font, but in those pages, the man demonstrates a joy for life, and it's a life on a big scale. He knows the movers and the shakers, the real guys and the pretend guys. It's all here, and for the reader you get the inside scoop on life at the top of one of the two major political parties in our land.
Talk about bias though. McAuliffe does sometimes speak about history and events as though he's the only one who's got the story straight. He also tends to think of the Democrats as being pure as the driven snow, and the Republicans as though they are in bed with the devil. Only partisans live that nonsense.
The author has to be forgiven for his partisanship because he has so much invested in the GAME. You are not reading the book to learn about history. You are living this man's life in these 400 pages, and it feels very real. Some of the fabulous stories you will read in this book include:
· How's he's trying to get a couple of hundred grand out of a guy by inviting him to a party. He tells him Sammy Davis Jr. is coming and will be singing, even though Davis had been dead 10 years.
· He goes to a guy in California to get a million bucks and the guy brings his friend who is dressed like a bum. The bum takes out a wrinkled check, has holes in his t-shirt, and writes a check for a million also.
· The stories on Lew Wasserman, the man who ran Hollywood for decades are priceless. McAuliffe asks Wasserman how his desk could be absolutely clean, not a piece of paper on it. Wasserman tells him, "If I get a piece of paper here, I either throw it out or act on it. I don't let anything sit." What a priceless piece of advice to the rest of us.
· A fundraiser is brought to meet former Vice President Mondale in 1984. The fundraiser happens to be gay unbeknownst to Mondale. He tells the VP, there's something I need to tell you. "I've come out of the closet." After the man leaves, Mondale ask in a serious voice, "What was he doing in my closet."?
· The stories on Tip O'Neill are nothing short of spectacular. Tip tells McAuliffe about JFK and Tip doing a fundraiser. At the end of the evening JFK asks Tip how did we make out. Tip responds we got cash and checks. The future President comes back, "You take the checks, I'll take the cash."
· His stories on boar hunting are dead on accurate. I've done this, and the man knows what he is talking about.
· He's got a couple of tips about fundraising that you could never hope to learn unless someone passed them on to you. They include always accept a drink from a potential donor. It loosens every body up. Don't let anybody get drunk however, because they might not remember the amount they committed to. When doing a fundraiser always use a smaller room than you need. It gives off a more successful appearance.
When I read any book I am looking for that one thought that makes the whole book worthwhile. On page 200 I found that thought. President Clinton talks about what he believes in passionately.
"Don't let somebody bad-mouth you out of the game, and then sit on the sidelines and lay down. Don't let them score without trying to tackle them. If you're going to play, you ought to know going in what to expect...So half the time when you get hit upside the head, people don't necessarily believe it. What they're really interested in is: how are you going to respond? That's how they can get some guidance as to what sort of President you'd be, or senator, or congressman, or governor."
The second fabulous insight was a statement that President Clinton made about what he learned from Nelson Mandela about anger and hatred, when he asked Mandela, "....didn't you really hate those who had imprisoned you?"
Mandela responded, "Of course I did, for many years. They took the best years of my life. They abused me physically and mentally. I didn't get to see my children grow up. I hated them. Then one day when I was working in the quarry, hammering the rocks, I realized that they had already taken everything from me except my mind and my heart. Those they could not take without my permission. I decided not to give them away." Mandela then told Clinton, "Neither should you." P164
Read the book, it's a BLAST.
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