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Hired Guns and Watered-Down Messages

Peter Beinart has a review of Joe Klein’s new book, Politics Lost, in today’s Washington Post Book World.

First of all, I must tip my hat to whoever is behind Joe Klein’s PR campaign. In the last week or so, I’ve read countless reviews – and seen Mr. Klein give countless interviews about the book. In fact, this is the second time I’ve written about it (and I just picked up my copy yesterday.)  (BTW, you can read my first article about the book, here.)

As far as I can tell, the books’ message isn’t that political consultants are all bad (it would be a shame if candidates extracted that message from the book).

Candidates like Reagan and Clinton benefit greatly by surrounding themselves with smart political operatives who can share their experience and political acumen.

The danger is when weak candidates allow hired guns to seize control of their vision and water-down their message. Not all consultants are good. And even if they are good, that doesn’t mean they should be making policy decisions.

Recently, I authored an article for Campaigns & Elections Magazine on the topic of "Things you must know before hiring a consultant." If you are planning on running for office someday, I recommend you check it out (PDF).

And I’ll keep you posted on what I learn from actually reading the book …

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Mr. Lewis has managed political campaigns and served as director of grassroots for the Leadership Institute, as well as political director for GOPAC. In 2002, Campaigns & Elections magazine selected him as a "Rising Star of Politics." He is the author of "Teaching Elephants to Talk." His blog can be read at MattLewis.org.

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