Highlights from the 2016 Campaign Literature


The Claude Rains Award for total transparency: Mike Huckabee, for his forthright declaration that "I didn't kidnap the Lindbergh baby, I didn't sink the Titanic, and I wasn't standing on the grassy knoll in Dealey Plaza in Dallas on November 22, 1963." He also denies ever having tasted Boone's Farm Strawberry Hill wine.

The MKULTRA Award for a veiled bid to run the CIA: Ben Carson, retired neurosurgeon: "I could take an 85-year-old man and place depth electrodes into a certain part of his brain followed by an appropriate electrical stimulation and he would be able to recite verbatim a book he read 60 years ago."

The Don-Draper-on-Acid Award for political advertising: In the 2010 U.S. Senate primary in California, Carly Fiorina portrayed her opponent as a sheep with hellfire-red eyes wearing a Jason-style hockey mask. The "demon sheep" ad, as it became known, was "unconventional," she recounts with considerable understatement. More accurately, the online outlet SFist proclaimed: "Fans of batshit insane campaign commercials rejoice!"

The greatest circumlocution since "It depends on what the meaning of the word 'is' is": Hillary Clinton, describing an argument over whether the raid on Osama bin Laden's hideout could be scheduled during the White House Correspondents' Dinner, at which Barack Obama was scheduled to speak: "While I don't remember exactly what I said, some in the media have quoted me using a four-letter word to dismiss the correspondents' dinner. I have not sought a correction."

The most ringing endorsement of technology: "I don't buy into the dystopian scenario of self-aware robots enslaving mankind," declares a defiant Marco Rubio.

The John Galt Award for the most concise description of a libertarian society ever: Rick Santorum, the former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania: "It has become popular, particularly among libertarians, to think of freedom as being allowed to do as we please….Smoking marijuana, hiring prostitutes, aborting your child, ignoring the poor and doing whatever else gives you momentary pleasure, as long as no one else gets hurt."

The most useful guy to have around in a post-apocalyptic landscape: Huckabee, who pugnaciously notes that his family was so poor when he was growing up that he had to learn to stab frogs with regular garden tools instead of fancy store-bought frog-stabbers.

The best Hallmark moment: The first nine months of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's first term were mostly spent battling public sector unions who took over the Capitol building, picketed his home, and vandalized the Capitol grounds. When it all ended, Walker's staff presented him with a scrapbook of clippings and photos, including some of demonstrators with signs comparing him to Hitler. "Now when we're old and sitting in our rockers," murmured his wife Tonette, "we can look back and remember how 100,000 people hated you."

The With-Charity-Toward-All-and-Malice-Toward-None Award: Carson writes that Adolf Hitler's regime "may have started out innocently enough, but…"

Most likely to stand up to Big Vegan: Huckabee, the unapologetic animal lover: "I loved them baked, fried, roasted, grilled, sautéed, steamed, smoked and poached." On the other hand, there goes the barbecue vote.

Have I mentioned how hard-working and experienced I am? Did you know Clinton visited 112 countries as secretary of state? She mentions it three times in the first four pages.

Ruthless ambition? Who, me? Clinton's book also mentions "public service" four times in the first three pages.

The Henry F. Potter Humanitarian Award: To Rubio, for explaining that we need to offer parents generous tax credits for having kids, because they're raising "the children who will be the taxpayers of tomorrow and who will support the generational entitlements like Social Security and Medicare that we all benefit from." And if they get mouthy about it, we can turn them into Soylent Green.

The most gratuitous smear of Arachnid Americans: Carson: "I have never been a fan of big hairy wolf spiders."

Best vocational tip: Thanks to guaranteed overtime stipulated by their union-negotiated contract, seven bus drivers in Madison, Wisconsin, made more than $100,000 in 2009, writes Walker.

Best tip for patronage seekers in a Hillary Clinton White House: His intelligence services warned Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov that when Clinton's hair was pulled back, she was in a bad mood.

Let them eat fried green tomatoes—or else: None of that "I'll be president of all Americans" stuff for Huckabee. "If people don't put pepper sauce on their black-eyed peas or order fried green tomatoes for an appetizer, I probably won't relate to them without some effort," he warns. "I'm a catfish and cornbread kind of guy, not a caviar and crab salad connoisseur." He does not preview what might happen the first time President Huckabee is sitting at an arms-control summit table with Kim Jong Un and the kimchi comes out.

Most horrifying personal revelation if you're Harry Reid: Carson confesses that, during an argument, he once stabbed a high school classmate in the stomach.

Most horrifying personal revelation if you're everyone else: Carson confesses that in high school, he carried a slide rule in a holster.

Worst researchers: Those on Team Hillary (she employed at least four, according to the acknowledgments), who found such brain-deadening quotes as this one from a 2009 economic conference with China: "We need to build a resilient relationship that allows both of us to thrive and meet our global responsibilities without unhealthy competition, rivalry or conflict." I'm sure on the audiobook version you can actually hear reporters shrieking as they jab chopsticks into their ears.

Best researchers: A tie among all the Republicans, whose talent for oppo research consistently produces priceless stuff like Huckabee's description of environmental dilettante John Travolta explaining to reporters that flying his jet to London for a movie premiere shouldn't count against his carbon footprint because "otherwise I couldn't be here doing this."