The Magazine

Vote or, Like, Die

A post-teen's diary of the 2004 campaign.

May 30, 2005, Vol. 10, No. 35 • By JUDY BACHRACH
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Let's leave aside--but only for a moment!--the ineradicable image of a lot of bad blood running in both directions (Dr. Harvey, please report to surgery). Pelosi clearly has given but limited thought to the premise of her book. After all, if something is as "old as democracy itself," then it can't very well be, 230 years later, the undermining of the republic. And if this conflict is truly embedded--as those of us who followed the career of John Peter Zenger might perhaps conclude--then the press hasn't "stopped trusting politicians," as it considered them untrustworthy from the start. And finally (and it does make one wonder how many books the author actually read before she began writing), in what possible way is all this bi-directional blood "undermining our democracy"? Pelosi gives no examples, possibly for good reason. Show me a country where politicians are fond of reporters, and I'll show you the Soviet Union.

Like the author's ideas, her writing seems a slapdash effort, hastily contrived. Pelosi metaphors (and there are chapters and chapters stuffed with these) are trotted around and shuffled about, without her worrying overmuch about which ones actually get along.

"Because the senator doesn't trust the pack of unwashed snarling dogs at his heel, he acts like a scripted cardboard cutout," she writes of John Kerry's coolness toward the media. Or even better: "Covering this campaign, I have met some of the best journalists in the business. I have also met a lot of total buzzards.. ..Like the good America and the bad America (of which George Bush spoke in defense of the crimes committed at Abu Ghraib prison), there are always going to be a few rotten apples that spoil the lot."

Apples. Buzzards. Abu Ghraib. Unwashed dogs. And then, out of nowhere, at the very end of the book: "What would the Founding Fathers have thought about the live coverage of Jenna Bush applying lipstick?"

An excellent question, and one, oddly enough, that invariably comes to mind on checkout lines, in proximity to the Star. What would Thomas Jefferson have made of televised lipstick applications? Perhaps that the total buzzards were at last learning something useful.

Judy Bachrach is a contributing editor at Vanity Fair.