The Battle to Serve

Garry Wills argues that the “making of the president” books popularized by Theodore White have become largely superfluous in the satellite age, when cable news networks handicap the electoral horse race in microscopic detail. Supporting his point is this 59-minute video by Christopher McKool, which documents the quixotic efforts of multimillionaire Democrat Roger Kahn to unseat archconservative Republican Bob Barr in Georgia's Seventh Congressional District. The contest was closely watched on the national level—Barr had made a name for himself leading the impeachment procedings against President Clinton—and Kahn, a gentlemanly liquor wholesaler, spent $2 million of his own money on the race and eventually embraced his opponent's attack-dog strategies. You'd never guess any of this from McKool's dull succession of boilerplate speeches and backslapping fund-raisers; his video is so devoid of substance and insight you could easily mistake it for a campaign commercial, which makes its tendentious score, full of martial taps and ominous strings, all the more nauseating.

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