GOP strategist displays on ‘It Was All A Lie’ with Midtown Reader
As a former Republican and now the owner of the independent bookstore Midtown Reader, I was dying to read Stuart Stevens’ book on Donald Trump’s Republican Party. Stevens is one of the most famous and respected GOP strategists of his time. Just in time for the 2020 presidential campaign, his searing indictment against Trump and his Republicans hits bookstores.
In addition to his 25-year career in political campaigning, Stevens is a prolific travel writer, novelist, and screenwriter. He is the author of seven previous books; His articles have been published in the New York Times, Washington Post, Esquire, and Outside. and he has written for television shows such as Northern Exposure, Commander in Chief, and K Street.
Stevens’ latest book, It Was All A Lie: How the Republican Party Became Donald Trump, recounts his start as a young film student at UCLA who was called to Mississippi to write and produce television spots for an aspiring congressional candidate.
Stevens continued to work for leading Republicans such as United States Senator Connie Mack of Florida, George W. Bush and Mitt Romney. “It was all a lie” describes his love-hate relationship with the GOP and illustrates his conviction that the foundations for President Trump’s campaign and the subsequent presidency were laid long before Trump emerged as a surprise candidate in 2015.
I met Stevens recently to discuss his book, his frustration, and his view of the future of the Grand Old Party.
Q.: Stuart, I enjoyed your book (although I’m not sure if “enjoy” is the right word). Surely something wasn’t a lie?
ONE: I believe in a reasonable center-right party – I just don’t know how long it will be before I get there. We need a moment of truth and reconciliation. To commit to conservative principles again.
Q.: But you are not responsible for Donald Trump. They worked for Reagan, Bush, Romney – Republicans who believed in the power of ideas. Honest, committed conservatives who believed in public service.
ONE: It’s too easy to blame others. Trump is the Republican Party. You can’t stand that. And that is exactly what made me write this book: trying to understand what I was missing along the way.
Q.: Was it liberating to write this book? I know in a way that it has to be sad.
ONE: There is liberation in sadness! (Laughs) I don’t know of any Republican who will privately say that Donald Trump is qualified as president. Is there anything about what happened to the system that draws weak people into the process? Is the process fundamentally flawed? There is cowardice.
Q: If you could help rebuild the GOP after Trump, what advice would you give? And what are you really worried about?
ONE: You may have a second chance, but you have to try. You have to acknowledge what happened; There has to be a mea culpa. There needs to be a correction of course that focuses on politics. At least Elizabeth Warren has a government theory – I think it’s wrong, but it’s a coherent theory. We have become the party of anti-science, anti-intellectualism. What really worries me is that what Trump said is being forgotten. It’s not that Donald Trump made people racist, but he got it right to be racists. Trump brings that out. It is poisonous.
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About book events
Stuart Stevens, author of “It was all a lie: How the Republican Party became Donald Trump” will be speaking to Sally Bradshaw, former Chief of Staff to Governor Jeb Bush Wednesday, October 21, 7 p.m. online via zoom. Purchase the book from Midtown Reader to participate. After placing your order, you will receive a link to participate in the Zoom event.
Schedule for upcoming events
Ron Rash with In the Valley: Stories and a Novella Based on Serena. In conversation with the author Kim Michele Richardson. Wednesday, October 7th, 6 p.m. Online via zoom.
Ron Rash, a long-revered presence in the American letter landscape, has been called “one of the great American writers at work today” (Janet Maslin, NYT). Now the writer, poet and story writer is offering a collection of 10 scorching stories with “In the Vallery”. In these stories, Rash weaves a haunting allegory of the times we live in – rampant capitalism, looting of the natural world, opioid crisis, and more – yet he illuminates acts of extraordinary decency and heroism in that world.
Gabriel Bump with Everywhere You Don’t Belong. In conversation with Ravi Howard, author and professor of creative writing at FSU. Tuesday, October 13th, 7pm. Online via zoom.
“Everywhere You Don’t Belong” is a dark, funny, heartfelt debut novel about what it means to grow up young and black on the south side of Chicago when you feel like your choices are small. The book oozes wildness and originality and is tailored to the irony of our 21st century landscape. It marks the arrival of a brilliant young talent.
Senator Connie Mack with Citizen Mack: Politics, an honorable calling. In conversation with former Governor Jeb Bush. Thursday, October 15, 6 p.m. Online via Zoom (book purchase required to participate).
For all events, visit midtownreader.com for details, purchase books and a link to register.