“Primary Colors” is a fictional account of a presidential primary campaign. The
book is writen by Anonymous, who we now know is Newsweek colunmnist Joe Klein.
Klein includes a disclainer saying he invented the characters and situations, but I feel that
the book is about the Clintons. All the events are there. The champaign takes place in
1992. Stanton is the governor of a small Southern state. He has an authoritative wife,
Suzan. He also has problems with promisuity, draft dodging, and war protest.
The central charactor of the book is not Jack Stanton but the narrator Henry
Burton. Former congressional aide and grandson of the famous civil rights leader,
Harvey Burton. Henry tells the story of Governor Jack Stanton’s presidential campaign.
Young, black and no novice to insider politics, he signs on as deputy campaign manager
but rapidly becomes the Governor’s right hand man and psychological confident. Henry
struggles with his role in the campaign, his responsibility to the candidate, and most
disturbingly with how much he actually knows and believes in the real Jack Stanton–the
man he would help become the leader of the United States of America. He also
developes an odd comradeship in the manic, obsessive Richard Jemmons.
The governor of a small southern state, Jack Stanton is the consummate
politician. His love for the American people is palpable, but starkly contrasted with his
relentless pursuit of power and his on-going sexual indiscretions. He is a master of the
political system. Stanton has gone to great measures to surround himself with unwavering
supporters, from his wife Susan Stanton to people he connects with along the campaign.
Stanton is man who wants to be president and will let nothing, least of all his own
Susan Stanton is a skilled lawyer and experienced campaigner. She shares the
Governor’s same ruthless desire but is as careful as he is careless. She never falters from
standing by her man, but to underestimate her is to misunderstand the power she wields
behind the scenes of both the campaign and the Governor’s Mansion. Together they are a
formidable couple. She knows as well as he that they can only reach their dream together.
Susan’s identity is tied to her husband’s, but the control of the relationship is clearly hers.
She has her own way of dealing with his weaknesses.
Nicknamed the “Dustbuster,” Libby Holden has always been there in the past to
clean up Governor Stanton’s extracurricular indiscretions. Newly released from the loony
bin for this campaign, she is back and ready for action. And there is plenty of dust for her
to bust! Her methods are sometimes extreme but she is constantly looking for the truth
and always, always gets the job done. An overwhelming presence, she is keeper of all the
Stanton secrets; she knows both the Governor and his wife inside and out or thinks she
Known as the best democratic political strategist, Richard Jemmons is not your
run-of-the-mill campaign spin doctor. An explosive, hyper, and usually manic presence,
he knows how elections work but can’t quite seem to get a grasp of his newest
responsibility. At times obsessive, Jemmons knows better than anyone and earlier than
anyone, that the most dangerous threat to the Stanton campaign is not an opposing
candidate but Stanton himself and his own checkered past.
Up-and-coming media consultant, Daisy Green is responsible for the public
perception of the Governor. She is outspoken, fast-talking and a New Yorker at heart.
Daisy never quite makes it into the inner circle of the Stanton campaign. She does
however fall in love with Henry Burton. She discovers that the relationship, if it is going
to work, must survive the treacherous terrain of the political playing field.
All though this book we wonder if this a story about the Clintons. Like Stanton,
Clinton has been a politician since his college days. Like bill Clinton, Jack Stanton has a
hard time keeping his pants on around good looking women. Jack Stanton’s campaign
suffers from its own “bimbo eruptions.” Klein describes a complex man, like all great
men, has large virtues and failings. I feel that the author does love a part of Clinton,
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