The double standard for [Gary Hart] is unmistakable. [RICHARD BEN CRAMER] is tough on [Richard Gephardt] for pushing his 16-year-old son to support his presidential run, but says nothing about the effect on Hart's children during the periods when his preoccupation with politics contributed to splits with his wife. Similarly, Cramer portrays [Michael Dukakis] disdainfully as a know-it-all who lectured people on his version of what was right. But Hart had a strong didactic streak, too, which Cramer celebrates with a glowing account of Hart in front of a blackboard, lecturing college students.
In the end, Cramer blames the press -- the "pack" and the "Karacter Kops" -- for doing Hart in, and certainly much of the press coverage of Hart was sensational, unbalanced and unfair. But the press did not sink Hart; he had a clear shot at the voters in Iowa and New Hampshire. As Cramer himself describes it, the voters swept Hart from contention while most reporters were still taking him seriously. If Cramer's bouquets for Hart are surprising, they are not the only ones; his assessments of all his candidate-subjects seem to be the reverse of the voters'.
Most of them did not write it with the same voice, however, and this raises two issues. One is Cramer's jazzed-up, diddybop prose. Better breathless than turgid in a book of this length, probably, but Cramer often goes wild. In a brief passage about Hart's college life, covering one third of a printed page, for instance, Cramer crams three dashes, three exclamation points, five ellipses, nine uses of italics, two parentheses, one word all in capitals and one word all in italic capitals into five jolting paragraphs.
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