Tales of a White House Survivor
By Matthew Latimer
(Crown, Hardcover, 9780307463722, 304pp.)
Publication Date: September 22, 2009
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From a top speechwriter to President George W. Bush and Donald Rumsfeld, this may be the most deliciously candid memoir ever written about official Washington—a laugh-out-loud cri de coeur that shows what can happen to idealism in a town driven by self-interest.
Despite being raised by reliably liberal parents, Matt Latimer is, from an early age, lured by the upbeat themes of the Reagan Revolution and, in the tradition of Mary Tyler Moore, sets off from the Midwest for the big city, determined to "make it after all." In Matt's glory-filled daydreams, he will champion smaller government and greater self-sufficiency, lower taxes and stronger defense—and, by the force of his youthful passion, eradicate do-nothing boondoggleism and lead America to new heights of greatness.
But first he has to find a job.
Like an inside-the-Beltway Dante, Matt chronicles his descent into Washington, D.C., hell, as he snares a series of increasingly lofty—but unsatisfying—jobs with powerful figures on Capitol Hill. One boss can't remember basic facts. Another appears to hide from his own staff, barricading himself in his office. When Fate offers Matt a job as chief speechwriter for Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and Matt finds he actually admires the man (causing his liberal friends to shake their heads in dismay), his youthful passion is renewed. But Rummy soon becomes a piñata for the press, and the Department of Defense is revealed as alarmingly dysfunctional.
Eventually, Matt lands at the White House, his heart aflutter with the hope that, here at last, he can fulfill his dream of penning words that will become part of history—and maybe pick up some cool souvenirs. But reality intrudes once again. More like The Office than The West Wing, the nation's most storied office building is a place where the staffers who run the country are in way over their heads, and almost everything the public has been told about the major players—Bush, Cheney, Rice, Rumsfeld, Rove—is wrong.
Both a rare behind-the-scenes account that boldly names the fools and scoundrels, and a poignant lament for the principled conservatism that disappeared during the Bush presidency, Speech-less will forever change the public's view of our nation's capital and the people who joust daily for its power.
MATT LATIMER was one of President Bush's top speechwriters from March 2007 to October 2008. He was also chief speechwriter to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld for three years.
Matt Latimer, speechwriter to President George W. Bush during his last months in office, says his old boss didn't always stick to the script. His new tell-all memoir recounts more than one startling comment that Latimer says his boss made behind closed doors. More at NPR.org
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LEADING CONSERVATIVES PRAISE LATIMER'S
New Book by Former Bush Administration Writer Hailed by Right
"Probably the most important political book of the year… [Matt is] one heck of a great conservative. It seems to me [it is] getting a very good reaction from conservatives around the country… The last time I read a book that was this funny was Christopher Buckley's White House Mess."
Jed Babbin, Editor, Human Events
"Latimer comes across as honest...He's a deft writer, and has a good eye and a nice turn of phrase. You may find yourself surprised by what he has to report. I was. ... Let me simply admit that I was darned entertained by Speech-less...Latimer's contribution to the [White House memoir] shelf is welcome and worthy."
--Christopher Buckley, bestselling writer and commentator
"It's a good read… quite frankly, the stories are funny!"
Pat Buchanan, MSNBC news analyst and contributor
"Lots of people write accounts of their time at the White House. Virtually no one has done it as well... This book is excellent: funny, sensible, informative, interesting as hell, and beautifully written. If only there had been more Matt Latimers in the Bush administration."
Tucker Carlson, Fox News analyst, former co-host of CNN's "Crossfire"
"Matt Latimer's hilarious account reads like political satire, except it's all true…Latimer's description of government bureaucracy should be framed and placed in every government office… completely accurate and completely hilarious."
Ann Coulter, Best-selling Author and Fox News analyst
"It's fair to say that President Bush left office having disappointed many conservatives, despite his success at keeping the American homeland free from terrorist attack for seven years after 9/11… Mr. Bush said, 'but I redefined the Republican Party.' That may have been true, but how well did that work out for the Republican Party?"
John Fund, Editorial Page, The Wall Street Journal
"[G]ives Republicans in particular a lot to think about if they ever hope to reclaim power…Even more than the messages this book conveys, at its heart this is a compelling story about idols who sometimes disappoint you..."
Stephen F. Hayes, Senior Writer Weekly Standard, Fox News contributor
"A lot of really positive things about President Bush in this book… I like knowing more about what's happening in these halls of power. And as a conservative,… I'm fascinated by this because this can't happen again to the Republican Party. This party can't go down this road of big spending... That's not conservatism. Matt Latimer, Speech-less... Be your own judge. Pick it up and check it out and don't believe everything necessarily that you're hearing."
Laura Ingraham, Host, The Laura Ingraham Show
"A lot of conservatives that have read [Matt's] book have called me up and just said, 'Ok, so this was the problem with [Bush] all along.'"
Joe Scarborough, Host, MSNBC's Morning Joe