primary colors by annoynomus



Theresa Purpura
Professor Shannon
Government 1
8 April 1999

Primary Colors

Primary Colors opens with a quote be Machiavelli, “Men as a whole
judge more with their eyes than with their hands.” This is a great statement
that sums up a good deal about Jack Stanton, the presidential candidate that
this book follows. The handshake is the threshold act of politics and Jack
Stanton knows it. He loves to go out, meet the people and shake hands with
them. When he lost the New Hampshire primary he was not upset at all. A
large number of voters on leaving the polls said the deciding factor was that
they had met Stanton. Unfortunately though the people began to judge
Stanton by what they had read in the papers. If the voters had judged Jack
Stanton with their hands, a handshake, instead of their eyes, he would have
easily become President because everyone that met him loved him.

The book is told through the eyes of Henry Burton. He is a young, well
educated and brilliant political strategist who formally served as a
Congressional aide. He is also well know for being the grandson of a
beloved Martian Luther King like figure of the civil rights era. Burton had
resigned as a Congressional aide because he longed to work for someone he
could believe in. He is consistently searching to rise above cynicism and
make a positive and lasting political and social contribution. He reluctantly
serves as the campaign manager for unknown southern Governor Jack
Stanton. Susan Stanton convinces Burton that the fight will be uphill, but
worth it. Throughout the Presidential race Burton flip-flops between
enthusiasm and disillusionment. Each time Burton’s faith in Stanton was
tested, it was soon renewed when he saw the way Stanton could mesmerize
a crowd.

Jack Stanton does have his faults, but he does seem to be the person
that Burton and other Americans can believe in. He is sincerely dedicated to
making American lives “just a little bit better” and he truly feels everyone’s
pain. So what, if he is a womanizer and has more skeletons in his closet then
his staffers dare find out about? And so Burton and many others join the
crusade to make Jack Stanton President. Richard Jemmons is a loud
political strategist who proudly proclaims that he’s a redneck and tells Burton
that he is blacker then him. Libby Holden, “the dustbuster,” has recently
been released from a mental hospital and has shown up to clean up the
Governor’s mess. She is lesbian who has a loud mouth and occasionally
carries a gun to back up her opinions. Libby is dedicated to the Stanton’s
and is just as idealistic as Burton. It was no wonder the two quickly became
friends. Daisy Green is a nicotine-puffing New York media consultant who
remains Henry Burton’s girlfriend even after Stanton fires her.

Throughout the campaign mud is constantly being hurled at Jack
Stanton. His faithful staff are kept busy around the clock trying to access the
damage and prevent future atrocities. As the campaign heats up Stanton’s
clan are beset with a number of moral and ethical dilemmas.


Many people considered Primary Colors reminiscent of President Bill
Clinton’s initial presidential campaign in 1992. The book was such a
phenomenal best-seller, partially because so many journalists inside and
outside of Washington, D.C. were running around trying to find the identity of
the author. Besides the fact that each of Stanton’s staffers are very much like
those of Clinton’s there are inside touches that are quit accurate to Clinton’s.
The way Jack handles Susan Stanton when she is upset is pretty much the
way Bill handles Hilary. Also the conversations between Stanton and NY
Governor Orlando Ozio are almost the same as between Clinton and Mario
Cuomo. But most important is that the book captures Clinton’s complexity.
The book is generous about his enthusiasm for politics and there are precise
observations about the Clinton technique, like the handshake. Primary
Colors was published three years ago and told us a good deal about Clinton
that we knew. On the other hand it told us elements of Clinton’ character that
we did not know, like his womanizing. Today we know more intimate details
of Clinton’s sex life then we do of some of our friends.

When it comes down to it, whether or not the book is about Clinton is
irrelevant. What is important is that the book is educational as it shows how
political campaigns are run and how candidates and those around them
handle unimaginable adversity on an almost daily basis. I knew a