On Sunday, The New York Times Magazine took an especially harsh look at the leaked Michelle Nunn campaign memo. (Truly the 144-page document is the gift that keeps on giving). I only read dead-tree editions of newspapers, so I saw this after finishing my morning reads.
The content of the memo is even more dispiriting. I read every word, and my main “takeaway” — as we helpfully summarizing reporters like to say — is that a political campaign today is a soul-killing pursuit and would generate the precise opposite of the “joy in my heart” that Jeb Bush says he would wish to bring to a presidential campaign if he were to undertake one in 2016. (Memo to Jeb: Do not read this memo.) In other words, this document confirms every worst suspicion that people tend to have about campaigns.
Suspicion: Sometimes when a member of a campaign’s communications staff is nice to me, it is not because he likes me as a person; it is because he is trying to manipulate me.
Confirmation: It made me very sad to read one particular portion of the memo. “Being able to interact with the press on the campaign’s terms is the most important way campaigns can guide reporters’ coverage,” the document says. The authors also believe that Nunn’s media team should “leverage relationships” with the press in a way that will help them “kill or muddy” bad stories. So much for love and poetry. But presumably this will also highlight what the authors hail as one of Nunn’s biggest assets — her “authenticity.”
That last line has to sting.