The Magazine

Joe Biden, cheapskate

From the Scrapbook.

Sep 22, 2008, Vol. 14, No. 02
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Readers should bear in mind that, in the world as seen by Robinson, Dionne, and friends, Ronald Reagan won the presidency by hypnotizing the electorate with his acting skills, George H.W. Bush beat Michael Dukakis with the help of Willie Horton and the ACLU, and George W. Bush booby-trapped Al Gore's voting machines and "swift-boated" John Kerry.

The problem is that after Democrats arrive at the depression stage-think the morning after Election Day 2004-they stay there indefinitely, or worse, never emerge from the anger period. And in THE SCRAPBOOK's experience, there is a point at which that anger is directed away from the Republican and straight at the disappointing Democratic candidate. You might call this the sixth stage of Democratic grief: recrimination. This happened to poor Michael Dukakis in 1988, and it certainly explains the furious complaints that John Kerry failed to respond to criticism four years ago.

So THE SCRAPBOOK's advice to Senator Obama is this: Watch your back. You've had an amazing four years of press adulation, Newsweek covers, and emotional tributes to your sacred qualities. But if the polls continue to fall, and your candidacy looks terminal, the fury that turns E.J. Dionne Jr. red in the face may soon be turned against the candidate of hope and change.

Author, Author!

A tip of THE SCRAPBOOK homburg to two of our stellar contributors: Peter Steiner, whose wry cartoons have adorned this page for many years; and Stephen Schwartz, whose passionate prose has informed STANDARD readers on subjects as diverse as Arthur Miller and Iranian politics.

Peter has just published his second thriller, L'Assassin (St. Martin's, 288 pp., $24.95), which, like his earlier French Country Murder, features the ex-CIA operative Louis Morgon, who has retired to a quiet village in the French countryside where he finds that all the wine and cheese in the world cannot insulate him from his shadowy past. Stephen's latest is The Other Islam: Sufism and the Road to Global Harmony (Doubleday, 288 pp., $24.95), a fascinating guide to the mystical side of Islam and a key to understanding a reformed faith that is truly a "religion of peace."

THE SCRAPBOOK, in its customary way, devoured both books in a single sitting, and attests that you'll learn things you didn't know in Stephen Schwartz's The Other Islam and won't soon forget the twists and turns of L'Assassin.