Well, that was quick. Faster than Michiko Kakutani can type "trite, implausible, and decidedly unfunny," speculation has reached a convincing pitch that the "Anonymous" behind O: A Presidential Novel is not someone in Obama's inner circle, but Mark Salter, John McCain's longtime speechwriter and amanuensis on books like Faith of My Fathers and Worth the Fighting For. The NY Postfirst guessed it was Salter last week--and got a "coy" non-denial denial from Salter--and then today Time's Mark Halperin (co-author of the bestselling book on the last campaign, Game Change) sticks behind the story with more circumstantial evidence and multiple anonymous (naturally) confirmations, though not from Salter or his publisher yet.
With initial response to the book pretty tepid, I'm not sure how much legs this story will have, but for political historians and junkies this scenario--a top aide writing a novel about his boss's presidential rival--is of some interest. Imagine, say, Ted Sorensen penning "Dick" in disguise in 1963, or Dick Cheney heading back to Wyoming in '82 to write "Peanut," with a giant Georgian grin on the cover. History might seem a little different. Meanwhile, picturing Salter behind the wheel might explain why the most appealing figure in the book, apparently, is O's GOP rival, a character most reviewers are comparing to Mitt Romney, but who Ron Charles saw another source for as well:
Instead, Obama's opponent is Tom "Terrific" Morrison, the perfect amalgamation of John McCain (without the maverick instability) and Mitt Romney (without the Mormonism): "square-jawed, straight-backed, irresistibly perfect." He's got it all: military service, humility, savvy and business acumen. You think this is a setup for the big reveal - the pregnant campaign aide, the blue dress that's never been dry-cleaned, the wide stance in a public restroom - but Morrison really is a fine, upstanding man. And what's more, he's determined to run a clean, fair, courteous campaign. Wake me up when it's over.