Halperin: It's Salter

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Jan. 27 2011 10:01 AM

Halperin: It's Salter

Mark Halperin runs with his scoop about the real author of O: A Presidential novel . It's longtime John McCain collaborator Mark Salter, the stylist behind Faith of My Fathers , Worth the Fighting For , Character is Destiny , and the rest of the McCain oeuvre. Salter is not saying anything.

Was Jonathan Karp on the level when he promoted this? Sort of. The author, we were told, was someone who'd been "in the room" with Barack Obama. That was a loose enough classification to apply to Sarah Palin or to Markos Moulitsas. But the book was also promoted as an insider account of how Obama thinks, which wouldn't have been possible if it was marketed honestly as "what a confidant of the man Obama defeated in 2008 thinks about Obama."

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The Salter authorship (unconfirmed! barely!) does allow us to revisit a few interesting items in the novel. Is the contempt that "O" feels for Sarah Palin supposed to be in the president's voice or Salter's? The president's, although Palin's dizzy quotes and decision not to run don't come from nowhere. Also, the six page section in which the war hero senator's speechwriter screams "Whhhhhhhyyyyyyyyyy?" makes more sense now.*

*I am kidding about this but it's worth a disclaimer when you're discussing a stunt.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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