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Jill Lepore: Confessions of a Presidential Candidate

How the political memoir evolved.

Amy Klobuchar, Camp Fire girl, was kicked out of fourth grade at Beacon Heights Elementary School, in Plymouth, Minnesota, for wearing pants, and not just any pants but superfly, pink-flowered bell-bottoms. “Amy Klobuchar,” the principal told her, “at Beacon Heights School you wear dresses.” When Julián Castro was in seventh grade, in San Antonio, he poured Elmer’s glue into a school aquarium to see what would happen to the fish, and his mother—a Chicano activist who once ran for city council—set him straight about the consequences of cruelty. Cory Booker’s parents fought against housing discrimination, braving the bared teeth of a real-estate agent’s Doberman pinscher, and when they moved with Cory and his little brother into an all-white neighborhood in New Jersey his father said that the Bookers were “four raisins in a tub of sweet vanilla ice cream.” Kids in Scranton, Pennsylvania, mocked Joe Biden because of his stutter; so did his seventh-grade teacher. “Mr. Bu-bu-bu-bu-Biden,” the nun taunted, until Biden’s mother went to the school and told the nun that if she ever spoke to Joey that way again she would rip her wimple right off her head. Kirsten Gillibrands childhood nickname was Loudmouth; this did not daunt her. “I am sometimes bossy,” she wrote, philosophically, in a school paper, when she was around nine. “I also tease my sister, but I feel this is natural.”

Klobuchar, Castro, Booker, Biden, and Gillibrand are all running for President. After the first Democratic Party debate, in June, a few of the field’s nearly two dozen candidates will start dropping out of the race. So far, just about everyone who’s declared has written a book, or, let’s be honest, has had a book written—political memoirs that flicker with primal scenes that explain the candidates’ rise from obscurity to fame, and, if not their rendezvous with destiny, at least their do-si-dos. The life is the message; the child the father of the man, the kindergartner the mother of the candidate. In “The Senator Next Door: A Memoir from the Heartland” (Holt), Klobuchar wants voters to know that, despite her impressive degrees and her well-paid (and, to progressives, faintly suspicious) stint as a corporate attorney, she’s just that feisty bell-bottomed Midwestern kid. Castro, the former mayor of San Antonio, offers “An Unlikely Journey: Waking Up from My American Dream (Little, Brown), a lovely story about the abiding virtue of his mother and grandmother, as a parable about the importance of immigration to American greatness, and goodness. “United: Thoughts on Finding Common Ground and Advancing the Common Good (Ballantine), Booker’s kitschy chronicle of his climb from mayor of Newark to U.S. senator, imagines a post-segregation America, the pure sweetness of raisins in a tub of vanilla ice cream. Biden published a memoir in 2007, Promises to Keep,” explaining why he was running; his newer one, “Promise Me, Dad: A Year of Hope, Hardship, and Purpose (Flatiron), explains why he didn’t run in 2016, and hints at why he’s running this time around: he conquered that stutter; he has endured terrible tragedies; he can conquer anything.Off the Sidelines: Speak Up, Be Fearless, and Change Your World” (Ballantine), by Senator Gillibrand, of New York, markets itself as theLean In of political memoirs, but, really, it’s a very weak cup of tea, a diluted version of Shirley Chisholm’s “Unbought and Unbossed,” which Chisholm published just before she became the first black woman to run for President, in 1972. Chisholm was unbossed; Gillibrand is a disciple of Hillary Clinton.

If books were candidates, and the next President were the person who’d written the best one, the unchallenged front-runners would be Pete Buttigieg and Elizabeth Warren. (Both also wrote their own books.) Buttigieg’s “Shortest Way Home: One Mayor’s Challenge and a Model for America’s Future (Liveright) is the best written of all these books; it offers the most unembarrassed political hope; and it’s got the best love story. Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend and a former Rhodes Scholar and Navy veteran, lives with his husband, Chasten, a schoolteacher, in an old house on the same block as Buttigieg’s parents, in a neighborhood where, when he was growing up, in the nineteen-eighties, the factories lay in ruins, the wind whistling through their broken windows just another sound of his childhood, along with “crickets in the summer, crows in the fall, and all year long the echoing horns of trains rumbling through in the night on their way to Chicagoland.” Buttigieg’s stirring, honest, and often beautiful book is a story of how the people of South Bend rebuilt their Rust Belt city, and made it a better place, and it’s an argument for what it means to answer a calling, and why it’s important to ask, again and again, “what each of us owes to the country.”

Elizabeth Warren’s “This Fight Is Our Fight: The Battle to Save America’s Middle Class” (Picador) is part memoir, part political manifesto, and it hits all kinds of nails right smack on their heads, with the hammer of a political Thor. Warren, who is not only a Massachusetts senator but also a scholar (her book has footnotes), tells the story of her life alongside the stories of other people’s lives to demonstrate how conservatives have destroyed the American middle class, like moths eating holes in your sweaters. Warren grew up in Oklahoma, the youngest of four children. When her father lost his job, in the early nineteen-sixties, and the family lost their station wagon and very nearly their house, her mother, who had a high-school education and no job experience, supported them by getting a minimum-wage job at Sears. That’s no longer possible, Warren argues, and there’s no disputing her evidence: “Adjusted for inflation, the minimum wage today is lower than it was in 1965—about 24 percent lower.” The nation’s largest employer is Walmart, which reported $14.69 billion in profits in 2015. The seven members of the family who founded the company, the Waltons, “have more money than 40 percent of our nation’s population put together,” but Walmart’s wildly underpaid employees get by only with assistance from the federal government. Warren writes, “The next time you drive into a Walmart parking lot, pause for a second to note that this Walmart—like the more than five thousand other Walmarts across the country—costs taxpayers about $1 million in direct subsidies to the employees who don’t earn enough money to pay for an apartment, buy food, or get even the most basic health care for their children.”

Buttigieg, who is thirty-seven, didn’t witness the decline that Warren, sixty-nine, has witnessed. “I never did see those factories off Main Street and Indiana Avenue throbbing with activity, or the thousands of people who worked there pouring into Robertson’s Department Store on a Thursday evening for a family night out,” he writes. If he had, he’d miss them, but he didn’t, and he doesn’t, and he isn’t interested in the nation’s former glories or in its “vanished past” but in what he believes to be its future, of startups and small businesses and smart streets and farmers’ markets and religious traditions and civic virtue. Warren, who knew those factories off Main Street, is angrier. “What has happened to this country?” she asks herself, lying in bed in the dark the night after Senate Republicans defeated a bill that would have reduced the interest rate on college debt. “What has gone so horribly wrong that democratically elected officials can offer a big wet kiss to rich people and giant corporations while they spit on students?” Buttigieg argues with more art, Warren with more force. But in making sustained, intricate arguments, woven together with the stories of their lives, their books stand alone, on a ballot of two.

Every political autobiography is a meet and greet, on the cheap. “Hi! I’m Kamala Harris. I’m running for district attorney and I hope to have your support,” a young and exuberant Harris told shoppers rolling their carts through the parking lot of a supermarket in San Francisco in 2003, when she first ran for public office. “In truth I would have settled for them just remembering my name,” she confesses, in her clear-eyed and affecting memoir, “The Truths We Hold: An American Journey(Penguin Press). Campaign books, their jackets plastered with photographs of the candidates, beam their smiles at voters from every airport bookstore and wave at political junkies from every hepped-up, hot-takes Amazon home page. Even if you never pick up Harris’s book, or click on it, the gambit works: Hi, I’m Kamala Harris, and I’m running for President. I’m hoping for your support. Remember my name!

“My name is pronounced ‘comma-la,’ like the punctuation mark,” Harris writes; kamala is Sanskrit for “lotus flower.” You can learn a lot about the candidates by reading these books, and if you read them all you can learn a lot about the Party, too. It’s a moving testament to the American experiment and to the unprecedented diversity of this election’s Democratic field that so many of these candidates explain how to pronounce their names or to locate on a map the part of the world their family came from. This didn’t start with Barack Hussein Obama. (“People call me ‘Alabama,’ ” he said on the campaign trail. “They call me ‘Yo Mama.’ And that’s my supporters!”) And it isn’t even really new (“always pronounced Ra-gan,” Ronald Reagan told readers in his first memoir). But it keeps getting more interesting. Harris’s father was born in Jamaica, her mother in southern India. Her grandfather P. V. Gopalan fought for India’s independence. Castro’s grandmother Victoriana Castro grew up in San Pedro, in the Mexican state of Coahuila, and in 1922, as a seven-year-old, she travelled six hundred miles to cross the border into the United States, an orphan without a home. Just short of a century later, her grandson was appointed Secretary of Housing and Urban Development.

Buttigieg’s father emigrated from Malta in the nineteen-seventies. When Buttigieg ran his first campaign, for Indiana state treasurer, he and his campaign manager spent half a day coming up with a phonetic spelling and settled on “Buddha-judge,” but on the yard signs they went with “Meet Pete.” (The campaign now sells T-shirts that read “Boot Edge Edge.”) Klobuchar’s maternal grandfather, a pie maker, emigrated from Switzerland, illegally, and, as Klobuchar points out, if he tried to get into the country today the way he did in the nineteen-twenties he’d be held in detention, or deported. Her father’s grandparents all came from Slovenia; “Klobuchar means ‘hatmaker’ in Slovene,” but in the U.S. the Klobuchar men worked in the mines. “My last name is hard to pronounce,” Klobuchar writes, telling a story about being called on in her first-year torts class, in law school, to answer the question of which theory applied in a hypothetical case, and giving the answer as “foreseeability” (awarding damages based on whether someone could have foreseen the consequences). Her professor, she writes, yelled “Miss Klo-boosh-er, Miss Klo-boosh-er, do you really think the answer is foreseeability?” Then “he lay down on his back on the long table that stood in the front of the classroom, tilted his head, put his fingers in his mouth, and pretended to gag himself, all the time calling out ‘foreseeability. foreseeability. foreseeability.’ ” (Meanwhile, you picture Klobuchar, muttering, between clenched teeth, “klow-bu-shar, klow-bu-shar, klow-bu-shar.”) Booker traces his ancestry back to Henrietta Stamper, his great-great-grandmother, and to her father—and owner—a Virginian named James Stamper, descended from the original settlers of Jamestown, a man who also claimed as property Booker’s great-great-great-grandmother, a woman known in Booker’s genealogical research only as “Slave Mother.” Americans, together, are descended from all of these people, a family tree of tangled roots and grafted limbs and wisteria, twining along the branches, its purple flowers cascading.

Although you can learn a lot by reading this stack of books, most of them take a very long time to say very little, and the worst of them read like résumés. “College led to a master’s degree, which led to a Rhodes Scholarship, which led to law school,” Booker writes. “Every step of the way, I had white-boards up in my bedroom or dorm room with my goals written out. I woke up and went to bed determined and focused.” Sometimes Presidential candidates write books about their vision for the country; sometimes they write books about themselves. And then, sometimes, their vision for America is a vision of themselves. Most recent campaign books aim to combine memoir and platform, no mean feat. In trying to move from their lives to their ideas, both Booker and Gillibrand lose their way and end up writing a lot about their clothes and their diets, producing books that read like the sort of self-help paperbacks you’d see on a rack next to the drugstore cash register: Selfies in Courage.

t’s not necessary to write a book about your life in order to run for President. Beto O’Rourke hasn’t bothered; instead, he blogged for a while, and live-streamed on Instagram, once memorably posting a video of his mouth while he was getting his teeth cleaned. John Hickenlooper, a Colorado governor and onetime brewer, did write a book, “The Opposite of Woe: My Life in Beer and Politics” (Penguin Press), with Maximillian Potter, his former speechwriter and media adviser, but it is every bit as unappealing as the view of O’Rourke’s uvula. The opening scene has Hickenlooper and his wife in couples therapy, Hickenlooper confessing that he has “issues with abandonment and intimacy” and suffered from a “general immaturity into my adult years.” Not everyone looks charming in closeup.

Most of the books by the Democratic Presidential contenders of 2020, in other words, are not great books, and some of these people just don’t seem like good people. That doesn’t mean they wouldn’t make good Presidents, I guess, but it raises a question: Why do they write this stuff?

Before the nineteen-sixties, the books Presidential candidates wrote weren’t usually memoirs; they were collections of speeches. In an age of arduous travel, printing speeches was an excellent way to get ideas to voters. In 1860, Abraham Lincoln won every state in which he’d published a book called “Political Debates,” transcriptions of his 1858 debates with the Illinois senator Stephen Douglas. In 1908, The Real Bryan: Being Extracts from the Speeches and Writings of ‘A Well-Rounded Man,’ ” promised readers that the book would help them know the Democratic candidate William Jennings Bryan “even as he is known by every Nebraska neighbor who has had the advantage of intimate acquaintance with the man.” Two years later, “The Real Roosevelt: His Forceful and Fearless Utterances on Various Subjects” assembled Theodore Roosevelt’s more memorable sayings, including “Populism never prospers save where men are unprosperous,” introduced with this promise by Henry Cabot Lodge: “Here in these pages is ‘The Real Man.’ We may agree or disagree with his views, but we have that satisfaction which passes all others of knowing that it is the man himself who speaks to us and not a hollow voice sounding like that of a Greek actor from behind a mask.”

In 1920, Warren Harding became the first Presidential candidate to record his speeches, which were sold as a phonographic disk. But, even in the age of radio, readers still bought Herbert Hoover’s “The New Day” (1928) and F.D.R.’s “Government—Not Politics” (1932), an anthology of his magazine articles which reviewers claimed ought to “be taken as the program of Governor Roosevelt.” By 1936, when the Republican nominee Alf Landon came out with yet another of these books, a reviewer observed, “The brave words spoken by Presidential candidates, even by those who aspire to be candidates, have a habit of drawing together to form a book.” The trick was to ask, “Behind the words and phrases, what sort of man can be detected?”

Bernie Sanders’s “Where We Go from Here: Two Years in the Resistance” (St. Martin’s) belongs to this tradition. “Here is the speech I delivered,” he writes, in a chapter on foreign policy, introducing a 2017 speech that quotes from Winston Churchill’s 1946 “Iron Curtain” speech and Eisenhower’s 1960 farewell address, and which offers an homage to Ronald Reagan’s 1987 “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” Sanders: “I say to Mr. Putin: We will not allow you to undermine American democracy.”

Sanders is a throwback. This kind of book began to fall out of favor after the Second World War, partly because of television, partly because of the growing popularity of another kind of political book: the post-Presidential memoir. “The Personal Memoir of Ulysses S. Grant” was published in 1885. Grant left office deeply in debt and dying from cancer, and wrote the book because he needed the money. “The Memoirs of Harry S. Truman” appeared, in two volumes, in 1955 and 1956. Like Grant, Truman had very little money when he left the White House, in 1953; he wrote because he needed the cash—he was the first President to do a book signing—and from a sense of obligation: “I have often thought in reading the history of our country how much is lost to us because so few of our Presidents have told their own stories.”

Ex-Presidents are more candid than would-be Presidents. The success of Truman’s book inspired political candidates to experiment with more intimate kinds of writing. In 1957, in “Profiles in Courage,” John F. Kennedy offered the reader the chance to detect the real man in the men he admired (in a book he did not write). In “Six Crises” (1962), Richard Nixon drafted the chapter about his Checkers speech, itself an intimate confession, claiming that it had made his cocker spaniel more famous than F.D.R.’s Scottish terrier. Still, candidates kept publishing speeches and addresses: in 1964, in “The Cause Is Mankind: A Liberal Program for Modern America,” Hubert Humphrey wrote, “We plead for progress, for greater understanding, for a more compassionate approach to our own and to world problems.” Lyndon Johnson did the same, albeit with sterner prose, in My Hope for America”: “Our land is young. Our strength is great. Our course is far from run.” But he also offered something more personal: “I know what poverty means to people. I have been unemployed. I have stood in an employment office, waiting for an assignment and a placement. I have shined shoes as a boy. I have worked on a highway crew from daylight until dark for a dollar a day.” Surprisingly, in To Seek a Newer World,” a book that Robert F. Kennedy published in 1967, while preparing for his Presidential bid, the chapter called “Youth” isn’t about his childhood; it’s about the discontent of younger Americans, their opposition to the war in Vietnam, and their disillusionment with liberalism. And, in what amounted to a gift for Nixon, George McGovern, weeks before the 1972 Democratic Convention, inexplicably published his 1953 doctoral dissertation, a study of the great coalfield war of 1913.

Like gods and superheroes, Presidential candidates require origin stories; lately, these stories have involved their childhoods. The real person is no longer to be detected in a collection of the candidate’s speeches but to be found in a series of confessions about the candidate’s earliest years. This trend dates to the nineteen-fifties, the heyday of psychoanalysis, but it became established by way of a single book, from 1965: Where’s the Rest of Me? The Ronald Reagan Story.”

“I am afraid it is autobiographical,” Reagan apologized in 1963, when asked about the book he was putting together with Richard Hubler, a screenwriter and author, as he prepared to run for governor of California. “Where’s the Rest of Me?,” as the literary historian Craig Fehrman has argued, is an old-fashioned conversion narrative, chronicling what Reagan described as his transformation from “a near-hopeless hemophilic liberal” and famous movie star “into a dedicated defender of the American heritage.” But when Reagan started writing the book he was still a movie star; his final film, “The Killers,” wasn’t released until 1964. And “Where Is the Rest of Me?” doesn’t borrow from the campaign book; it borrows from the Hollywood memoir. In the fifties and early sixties, the age of Confidential magazine, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Bette Davis, and Lionel Barrymore were among those who produced movie-star memoirs, books the press reported on, breathlessly. “The first version of Errol Flynn’s memoirs is so hot the publishers are handling it with fire tongs,” the widely syndicated columnist Dorothy Kilgallen reported, in 1959. Jayne Mansfield was said to be writing a book called “Am I Really Jayne Mansfield?”

Who was the real Ronald Reagan? “Where’s the Rest of Me?” is the celebrity psycho-self-puffery on which nearly all later American campaign memoirs are based, the story of stardom. It’s as staged as a movie script, it begins in infancy, and it opens with these words:

The story begins with the closeup of a bottom in a small town called Tampico in Illinois, on February 6, 1911. My face was blue from screaming, my bottom was red from whacking, and my father claimed afterward that he was white when he said shakily, “For such a little bit of a fat Dutchman, he makes a hell of a lot of noise, doesn’t he?”

Closeup, the naked body, and the colors red, white, and blue.

“Where’s the rest of me?” was Reagan’s most famous line, uttered in a film in which he wakes up to find that a sadistic doctor has amputated his legs.“I decided to find the rest of me,” Reagan says, at the beginning of the book. He depicts his political awakening, and his conversion to conservatism, as a change not in himself but in the nation: “The classic liberal used to be the man who believed the individual was, and should be forever, the master of his destiny. That is now the conservative position.” And he closes the book with a newfound political resolve, not a bawling baby but a real man, standing on his own two legs: “I have found the rest of me.” Closeup, the complete man, in the colors of the flag.

By the time Reagan published his next autobiography, “An American Life,” in 1990, political memoirs had become big business, politicians had become celebrities, and publishers had become corporations whose business model relied on blockbusters, handled by wheeling-and-dealing literary agents. Geraldine Ferraro signed a million-dollar book deal after her run, in 1984, as the Democratic Vice-Presidential candidate, and, two years later, so did Donald Regan, Reagan’s Secretary of the Treasury and then chief of staff. In 1989, Edwin Meese, who served as the Attorney General under Reagan, was paid about a quarter of a million dollars, talked about how much he enjoyed the writing process, and then apparently never wrote a page of his proposed “Witness to History: Power and Politics in the Reagan White House.” Journalism got soft—in 1980, two-thirds of political news stories concerned policy reporting and analysis; only about half did in 2000—candidates felt a growing need to write books, especially because, as it turns out, the people who are most likely to influence other people’s political opinions are the people who read the most books.

Publishers wanted to publish these books, and candidates wanted them published, but that didn’t mean candidates wanted to write them. Jimmy Carter did write his own campaign memoir, Why Not the Best?,”for the 1976 Presidential race, but most celebrity and political memoirs of the nineteen-eighties and nineties were ghostwritten. Donald Trump’s two-bit “The Art of the Deal (1987) belongs to this era; Random House paid five hundred thousand dollars for it, but Trump proved to be a terrible negotiator, and half of the royalties went to his ghostwriter. The Democratic Speaker of the House Jim Wright published a hundred and seventeen pages of his speeches and notes as Reflections of a Public Man,” in 1984, but an ethics investigation, led by Newt Gingrich, revealed that Wright had used congressional funds to pay a former staffer to edit it, and campaign funds to publish it. (Donors also bought thousands of copies as a way of making illegal campaign contributions.) Allegations followed that Gingrich had used his staff to write a book of his own, called “Window of Opportunity,” and that he’d used Republican campaign funds to promote it. Some two dozen people wrote Reagan’s “An American Life,” but the publisher nevertheless held a press conference in its offices in Manhattan, where Reagan and the editor-in-chief of Simon & Schuster, Michael Korda, posed, as if in a writer-editor conference, poring over a manuscript. As Reagan left the office, he turned toward the press and said, “I hear it’s a terrific book! One of these days I’m going to read it myself.”

The week before the 1992 election, Ross Perot’s “United We Stand,” written by his staff, stood at No. 1 on the Times paperback best-seller list, followed, at No. 2, by Bill Clinton and Al Gore’s Putting People First.” “The good news is that people are buying political books,” the head of Random House’s trade division told the Times. “The bad news is that these are the printed equivalent of sound bites.”

Nothing sells like celebrity. In 1995, Barack Obama published “Dreams from My Father,” which he wrote; it sank like a stone when it came out, but made him a fortune after 2008. Joe Biden, in his latest memoir, “Promise Me, Dad,” reports that Obama loaned him money, out of his royalties. “Promise Me, Dad” is a hybrid, part ex-Vice-Presidential memoir, part candidate autobiography. It recounts Biden’s chief accomplishments during his two terms in Obama’s White House, but, more, it recounts, with deep sorrow, how Biden decided not to run for the Democratic nomination in 2016. That story has partly to do with Obama, who discouraged him, but mainly to do with Biden’s grief over the illness and death of his son Beau. If you read Biden’s two memoirs together, you can see how Beau’s suffering would have brought back, for Biden, Beau’s months in the hospital, as a little boy, after he and his brother were injured in the car accident that killed Biden’s first wife and their young daughter. “I understood the difference between an electoral loss and a real loss,” Biden writes, of a moment when he is just about to throw his hat in the ring for the 2016 race and, stopping at an Air Force base in Colorado, a man who served with Beau calls out to him, and Biden, falling apart, has to rush back into a waiting car to cry. That settles it. He writes, “This was no way for a presidential candidate to act in public.”

Political memoirs reach readers, and they make money. Earlier this year, when Michelle Obama’s post-First Ladyship memoir, Becoming,” was No. 1 on the hardcover best-seller list, Kamala Harris’s “The Truths We Hold” débuted at No. 4. If you didn’t know that these two books were political memoirs, you’d assume that they were celebrity memoirs. (The jacket of Harris’s book is uncannily similar to the jacket of Tina Fey’s “Bossypants.”) Buttigieg’s “Shortest Way Home” made the best-seller list, too, and so did Warren’s “This Fight Is Our Fight.”

People do buy these books; whether they read them or not is another question. The Web site FiveThirtyEight looked at how much time people spent listening to the audiobook editions of recent campaign books and, of those written by candidates running for President in 2016, found that, as a percentage of the book’s length, people listened longest to Marco Rubio’s American Dreams,” Mike Huckabee’s “God, Guns, Grits, and Gravy,” and Ted Cruz’s A Time for Truth,” and least to Bernie Sanders’s Our Revolution,” Hillary Clinton’s Hard Choices,” and Donald Trump’s Great Again.” So, if 2016 is any indication, books aren’t candidates, voters aren’t readers, and the next President is not likely to be the person who wrote the best book.

The Democrats running for President in 2020 have walked in different shoes, from ballet slippers to football cleats. They carry different banners. They are fighting different fights. But most of their books contain one version or another of an eerily similar scene, from a single night. On November 8, 2016, Kamala Harris, running for the Senate, was in California at a party with a thousand people. “I had written a speech based on the assumption that Hillary Clinton would become our first woman president,” she writes. “I left that draft behind.” Julián Castro was in New York. “The anticipation felt more like New Year’s Eve than the night of an election,” he writes. Castro headed to a lavish party hosted by the Clinton campaign in the glass-ceilinged Javits Center. That ball-dropping feeling? It didn’t last. Bernie Sanders was at his house in Burlington, Vermont, with a few friends, platters of cold cuts, and bowls of potato chips. The plan was to head to a celebration in a hotel ballroom, hosted by the Vermont Democratic Party, after the results came in. “We never made it downtown,” Sanders writes. “We were just too depressed.” Elizabeth Warren was at her house in Cambridge, with her husband. “I’ll get the popcorn,” she called out to him, as she headed to the TV room, with snacks, beer, and her laptop. They turned on the television. Warren writes, “It was like watching a train wreck in slow motion.”

The train came, and the train crashed. And it’s still off the rails, and the tracks still need repairing, rail by rail, tie by tie, word by word. ♦

 

 

 

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