The First to Speak

Kristin Clark Taylor, Author
Kristin Clark Taylor, Author Doubleday Books $22.5 (303p) ISBN 978-0-385-42510-0
Reviewed on: 05/31/1993
Release date: 06/01/1993
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This inside look at the Bush White House comes from the unique perspective of an African American, conservative, Republican woman. Taylor, the youngest of seven children of a working-class Detroit family, was brought up to excel. Her parents strove to assure that she and her siblings had the best education available. After working at USA Today , she joined the White House staff in 1987, and at age 28 was appointed Vice President Bush's assistant press secretary. When she was named White House Director of Media Relations in the Bush administration, she became the first ever African American woman to hold that post. Taylor explains that she went to the White House because ``I wanted to do my part to serve my country.'' Pages later, these idealistic words ring hollow as she ponders, ``Was there an extra spin we needed to try to put on an issue?'' We see the White House through her eyes, which, at times, can be both irritating and hilarious: John Sununu is the ``plump python''; ``Reagan was the ultimate actor who delivered his lines flawlessly''; Bush's people ``were more laid-back and less anal-retentive than the Reagan types.'' Taylor portrays George Bush as an extremely personable and decent human being, but the reader is given little insight into such momentous events of his presidency as the invasion of Panama and Desert Storm. Taylor frequently refers to her own ``cultural schizophrenia'' (on the one hand, she urges that the word ``nigger'' be removed from a Bush speech and on the other, she defends the 1988 Willie Horton ad campaign, considered by many to be a blantantly racist attempt to exploit the fears of whites). And this book itself at times seems to be a justification of an administration that was viewed in certain quarters as insensitive to African Americans. (Aug.)
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