Stone Cold Sunday

It’s been an eventful weekend, so I’m a bit delayed with today’s post (gotta keep the streak alive!).  That said, it’s going to be a short one.

I recently wrote a post about Roger Stone, the controversial, P.T. Barnum-esque political consultant, fashionisto, and latest victim of the Mueller witch hunt.  After doing some research on Stone’s over-the-top life, I decided to pick up his book, Stone’s Rules: How to Win at Politics, Business, and Style.

It arrived earlier this week, and I’ve struggled to put it down.  It’s fairly straightforward:  Stone dispenses his churlish wisdom gleaned from forty years in politics, sprinkled with interesting (especially if they’re true) anecdotes to illuminate the “rule” in question.  Mixed in with stories of past and current politicians are rules for dressing well for the “arena,” be it of politics or business.

In the spirit of Roger Stone—and my personal commitment to making 2019 the self-styled “Year of the Panther“—I’ve really been attempting to up my sartorial game.  While I’m not of the disposition (or constitution) to resort to some of Stone’s more outlandish tactics, I do find some of his advice applicable to many areas of life, kind of like irreverent proverbs for the morally ambiguous.  Regardless, his fashion advice is on-point, and I’m learning the value of crisp, white shirts and a good tan (Stone retells, multiple times, the well-worn tale of the 1960 Kennedy-Nixon debates, and how Kennedy spent the afternoon tanning with two babes on the roof of a building while Nixon refused to wear makeup and was recovering from surgery).

The best parts of the book are when Stone delves into some obscure moment from American political history to support his points.  These are entertaining and educational.  I’ve learned a great deal about Republican races in New Jersey!

One example from midway through the book.  “Stone’s Rule #66:  Never Turn Down a Major Party Nomination.”  Stone relays the story of Christine Todd Whitman, who ran for US Senate in New Jersey against Democrat Bill Bradley.  Whitman sought out advice from former President Richard Nixon, Stone’s idol (and, I learned from this book, the so-called “Sage of Saddle River,” as “Nixon came to be known in dispensing his wisdom from his modest residence in the New Jersey town of that name”).

Nixon told her to go for it.  Whitman lost the race, but clinched the Republican nomination for Governor the following year, and went on to win “in a major upset” the following year.

The takeaway:  if you win a major political party nomination and do well, even if you lose, you’ve set yourself up for future successes.  It’s a variant on “80% of life is showing up.”

There are many more choice examples (although I’m still working my way through the book).  The pages are fairly glossy and high-quality, making it a heavy book.  Stone also needed a better editor, as there are a number of typographical errors, and even a few minor issues with facts (he writes about Ross Perot spoiling the 1988 election for the Republicans, when he means the 1992 election).

Overall, though, it’s a fun, lively book.  I recommend you pick it up, especially if you’re interested in one of the more outrageous figures in modern American political history.

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