Campaign America: The View from the Couch

William O'Rourke, Author Marlowe & Company $24.95 (304p) ISBN 978-1-56924-758-7
This is the political diary of a couch potato who is also a novelist (Notts), professor of literature at Notre Dame and author of The Harrisburg 7 and the New Catholic Left. Day by day, beginning with December 31, 1995, O'Rourke charts what he learned about the 1996 presidential election by watching TV and listening to the radio. He paid little attention to the network evening news programs though, and concentrated on C-SPAN, Nightline, the Sunday morning talk shows, Larry King, the McLaughlin Group, Jim Lehrer's NewsHour and 60 Minutes. The radio programs he follows are those of Rush Limbaugh and Diane Rehm. And, of course, he tuned in to the debates and the televised moments from the national conventions. O'Rourke is at his best when he is like one of those folk who wants to tell you all about what he saw on TV the night before. Only he does it with wit and flair, coming up with pointed observations (e.g., the Clinton team really didn't think they were going to win in 1992 and were unprepared to govern). However much O'Rourke argues that TV presents the true face of American social culture, he's dealing with old news here; by the time the returns start coming in, the reader, entertained at first, feels trapped in a season of endless TV reruns. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 03/01/1999
Release date: 03/01/1999
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