Buck Up, Suck Up . . . and Come Back When You Foul Up: 12 Winning Secrets from the War Room [NOOK Book]

Overview

The political strategists who directed the
Clinton campaign's War Room
reveal the lessons and secrets from
their hard-fought battles -- and how to
use these highly effective
strategies for success in everyday life.
James Carville and Paul Begala have waged political war all across America and on three ...
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Buck Up, Suck Up . . . and Come Back When You Foul Up: 12 Winning Secrets from the War Room

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Overview

The political strategists who directed the
Clinton campaign's War Room
reveal the lessons and secrets from
their hard-fought battles -- and how to
use these highly effective
strategies for success in everyday life.
James Carville and Paul Begala have waged political war all across America and on three continents. They've won some of the most spectacular political victories of the twentieth century and lost a few campaigns too. Along the way, they've learned a few lessons. Some sound simple, like "Never Quit," some comic, like "Kiss Ass," and some are more complicated and nuanced, like "Strategy Ain't Tactics." But each lesson contains tried-and-true wisdom, illustrated with colorful stories from long political experience -- many never told before:
  • Find out how Carville's mother, Miz Nippy, used a bass boat to "frame the debate" in selling encyclopedias.
  • Discover what success secret Hillary Rodham Clinton and Tom DeLay share.
  • Learn the War Room tricks for sharpening your message and delivering the perfect sound bite.
  • And much more.

Whether you are a senior executive or a secretary, a political junkie or the president of the United States, the rules to live by can be found in Buck Up, Suck Up...and Come Back When You Foul Up.
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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The Barnes & Noble Review
Political strategists Carville and Begala, the team behind the highly efficacious War Room that helped Bill Clinton win his first presidential bid, have distilled their campaign experiences and observations into this collection of 12 essential principles that will help you best your competition in almost any endeavor. The authors introduce their work with a surprisingly modest claim -- "This book won't change your life." They are right, of course: In the grand scheme of thing, instructions on how to beat the other guy aren't exactly what we think of as inspirational, life-altering literature. But, if you really want advice on winning (and many of us do at some point), this book, with its savvy techniques and battle-tested tactics, is a great place to start. Written with more than a touch of Carville's alternately self-depreciating and self-promoting rhetoric, this is a book that manages to be simultaneously funny, cutthroat, highly practical, and very honest about the ways in which success is usually achieved.

If you'd like an example, consider the second principle that Carville and Begala advance in the book -- the importance of what less-direct business books often call building a relationship with your boss. "Ass-kissing," our authors note, "is both an art and a science. No one gets to the top without leaning how to deal with people you can't stand. And usually the best way to deal with them is to pretend you can stand them. With all due respect, we think our background in politics has given us a Ph.D. in ass-kissing." Although this probably isn't the kind of advice taught in business school, it does have a from-the-trenches ring of truth that a lot of corporate survivors will probably appreciate. Lest you think that the authors only extol the virtues of sucking up, their next chapter, "Kick Ass," discusses the importance of aggression, counterpunches, and negative attacks. In fact, both the kissing and the kicking emerge in the book as "tactical weapons," nothing more or less than strategic choices made along the road to victory. While some readers may have difficulty with this openly Machiavellian approach, Carville and Begala do have a lesson to impart, as their own political successes certainly attest to. (Sunil Sharma)

Publishers Weekly
In their introduction to Buck Up, Suck Up... and Come Back When You Foul Up: 12 Winning Secrets from the War Room, political strategists James Carville and Paul Begala state, "If you buy this book and read it, you will not make $1 million at least not because you bought this book." But they go on to say that readers will get "good, sound advice on how to win." They proceed to make good on their word, offering secrets from the Clinton campaign that range from "kiss ass"' to "reward risk more than you punish failure." Their good-natured approach is humorous and refreshing. Agent, Robert Barnett. ( Jan. 15) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
Carville (Stickin': The Case for Loyalty) and Begala (Is Our Children Learning?: The Case Against George W. Bush), two of former President Clinton's most dedicated advisers, present an irreverent guide to success based on their many years of combat in the political arena. They offer commonsense but predictable advice: be flexible, maximize your strengths, don't confuse tactics with strategy, be an effective communicator, admit your mistakes, and so on. However, the political anecdotes that highlight the "winning secrets" are worth the price of the book. These two unabashed Democrats commend several Republicans for their mastery of politics, including Ronald Reagan, former speaker of the house Newt Gingrich, and Republican Majority Whip Tom DeLay, but Bill Clinton, despite his lies, remains "the Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods and Hank Aaron of politics." This down-home guide, which shows the reader when to "kiss ass, kick ass, and work one's ass off," is recommended for public libraries. Karl Helicher, Upper Merion Twp. Lib., King of Prussia, PA Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780743228794
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster
  • Publication date: 4/25/2002
  • Sold by: SIMON & SCHUSTER
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 651,963
  • File size: 2 MB

Meet the Author

James Carville is the best-known and most-loved political consultant in American history. He is also a speaker, talk-show host, actor, and author with six New York Times bestsellers to his credit. Part of a large Southern family, he grew up without a television and loved to listen to the stories his mama told. Mr. Carville lives with his wife, Mary Matalin, and their two daughters in New Orleans.
Paul Begala was a chief strategist for the 1992 Clinton-Gore campaign, which carried thirty-three states and made Bill Clinton the first Democrat to win the White House in sixteen years. He served as counselor to the president in the Clinton White House, where he coordinated policy, politics, and communications. He is the author of four books, including Is Our Children Learning?: The Case Against George W. Bush; It's Still the Economy, Stupid; and Buck Up, Suck Up...and Come Back When You Foul Up (with James Carville). Begala is a CNN political commentator and a research professor of public policy at Georgetown University's Public Policy Institute. Paul earned both his undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Texas, where he was student body president. He and his wife live quietly in Virginia with their four boys and a German shepherd. (Okay, so they don't live too quietly.)
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Read an Excerpt


Introduction

This book won't change your life.

If you buy this book and read it, you will not make $1 million -- at least not because you bought this book. This ain't the New Testament or the Tibetan Book of the Dead or the Talmud or the Koran. Buying it won't cause the Today show to do a one-hour special on you, and the opposite sex (or the same sex if that's what floats your boat) will not suddenly find you irresistible.

Here's what you'll get: good, sound advice on how to win. You'll get techniques and tactics that are battle-tested and proven in the white-hot crucible of politics.

In writing this book, we've learned a lot. As intuitive, trust-your-gut political strategists, we're a far cry from the political philosophers or political scientists who have dissected political strategy in scholarly texts. Nor are we corporate turnaround artists, self-help gurus, motivational speakers, retired CEOs or former coaches. All of them have written books that offer unique insights into the game of life as played on their turf.

But our turf is different. American politics at the dawn of the twenty-first century is a brutal, bloody, winner-take-all game. As it should be. The stakes in political combat are not multibillion-dollar mergers or championship rings. Those things are nice, and we're sure they're important to the folks who have a stake in them. But America and the world will not long remember or care whether Ford or GM had the bestselling family minivan, much less whether the Lakers can "three-peat" or Tiger Woods shanks a drive.

There are no higher stakes than determining who runs the only superpower on God's earth. Politics matters. It determines in large measure whether the Dow Jones Industrial Average goes up or down. It determines whether unemployment goes up or down. Whether the welfare rate and the crime rate and the prime rate go up or down -- whether America itself goes up or down. Politics, as John F. Kennedy Jr. used to say, is the only game for grown-ups -- and too important to be left to the politicians.

And the best thing about American politics is that, on Election Day, you matter more than all the special-interest groups and all the pundits and all the corporations. Because with your vote you decide the fate and future of the greatest nation in human history. That's why, while we never take ourselves seriously, we always took our work in political campaigns very seriously. Candidates have entrusted us with their life's dream, with their fondest hopes, their deepest ambitions, their darkest secrets.

The two of us combined represent nearly a half-century of involvement in politics. From local judicial races to the presidency, we've won some, we've lost some and we've blown some. And along the way we've learned a lot. A Carville-Begala campagin had certain attributes, some of them accidental, but most of them intentional, that reflected our approach to our craft.

We believe our approach is different from most of what you'd find in corporate life for one very simple reason: in business a 49 percent market share means you're rich. In campaigns it means you're through. In our business there is only absolute victory and abject defeat -- and both your victories and your defeats are played out on the front page of newspapers. That kind of zero-sum game, with those kinds of stakes, sharpens your approach.

Will political lessons translate to your corporate culture, your life, your work, your country? You'll have to judge for yourself. But we think so, and here's why: Having run campaigns on three continents and in too many states to mention, we recognize how very different each unique set of circumstances is. So we've tried to focus these rules on the eternal verities, on the stuff that works anywhere.

And that itself is a lesson: Focus on the big picture. When James went to Israel to help get Ehud Barak elected prime minister, he joked that after months of research he'd concluded that the election was going to be decided by one factor: the all-important Jewish vote. But behind that joke was a larger truth: It really didn't matter so much whether the Sabbath was on a Saturday or a Sunday; the same principles apply. Speed, a culture of aggressive action, openness, empowering people, rapid response -- all work across all borders.

And if the audience you're trying to reach is smaller than the one hundred million voters we spend our time trying to reach, we believe these lessons are even more important because your target audience is even more sophisticated, even more interested, even more up-to-the-minute. You should take note of the differences between our world and yours, but do not become enmeshed in them. The principles apply. The precise method of how you apply them is just one more test of your talent and creativity and flexibility.

The bottom line is that if you're faster, smarter and more aggressive than the other guy (or gal), you're going to win more often than not. The purpose of this book is to make you faster, smarter and more aggressive.

We aren't attempting to rewrite Machiavelli or Sun-tzu; no one will be studying this book five hundred years from now. But we do hope that we can give you practical, applicable strategies that will help you close a deal, land an account, get a raise, earn a promotion, win an election. And, most of all, beat your competition.

Copyright © 2002 by James Carville and Paul Begala

Rule 1: Don't Quit. Don't Ever Quit.

The successful politicians we've worked for and the successful leaders we've studied are a varied lot. They include the smart and...well...the not-so-smart, world-class charmers and world-class jerks, the lucky and the star-crossed. So we don't believe that brains or personality or good fortune are the most important attributes in a winner.

Perseverance.

Toughness.

Tenacity.

Those are the qualities that make the difference. Real winners know they've got to lose a lot. Look at the 1998 Yankees. The year they ran up the best record in the history of baseball, they still walked off the field as losers -- fifty times.

You're Not as Big a Loser as Lincoln Was

Everybody fails. Everybody. Every schoolchild has heard the story of Abraham Lincoln's great accomplishments. How he saved the Union and emancipated the slaves. But you can learn more from Lincoln's failures; he certainly did. And they were far more numerous than his successes.

He failed in business (as a shopkeeper). He failed as a farmer. He ran for the state legislature -- and lost. His sweetheart died. He had a nervous breakdown. When he finally got to the state legislature, he ran for Speaker -- and lost. He ran for Congress -- and lost. He was rejected for a job as a land officer. He ran for the United States Senate -- and lost. He ran for vice president -- and lost. He ran for the Senate again. Lost again. And when he was finally elected president, the nation he was elected to lead broke apart.

As commander in chief Lincoln was derided as inexperienced and inept. He lost the First Battle of Manassas. He lost the Battle of Big Bethel. He lost the Battle of Kessler's Cross Lanes. And he lost at Blackburn's Ford and he lost at Ball's Bluff and he lost at McDowell and he lost at Front Royal. He lost the First Battle of Winchester and he lost at Cross Keys and he lost at Port Republic. He lost at Drewry's Bluff and he lost at Gaine's Mill and he lost at Cedar Mountain. He went on to lose at Bristoe Station and to lose at Thoroughfare Gap and to lose at the Second Battle of Manassas.

Unfazed, Lincoln pressed on. He lost at Harper's Ferry and he lost at Shepardstown (after which he fired his general). Then with a new general in charge, Lincoln proceeded to lose the First Battle of Fredericksburg.

And that partial list of failures was all just in the first two years of the war. Lincoln was prone to depression. During the war his son Willie died and his wife was the subject of bitter political attacks for her allegedly spendthrift ways (including buying the famous bed that today is in the Lincoln Bedroom of the White House).

But despite all that failure Lincoln triumphed in the end.

The great Texas songwriter Kinky Friedman once warbled, "They ain't makin' Jews like Jesus anymore." And they ain't makin' politicians like Lincoln anymore either. But his lessons of toughness and tenacity are just as relevant today.

We guarantee this: If you show us a successful person, we'll show you someone who's failed. Your humble authors were abject failures at political consulting for years. James began his career as a political consultant in Louisiana after concluding he was such a poor lawyer that if he had to hire an attorney, he wouldn't hire himself.

So he went into the political-consulting business. And lost a lot. After being 0-for-life in Louisiana, James signed on to the Dick Davis for Senate campaign in Virginia.

And lost.

Then in 1984 James hooked up with the Lloyd Doggett for Senate campaign in Texas. That's where he and Paul first teamed up. And where they first lost. Big time. They suffered what up to that time was the worst defeat a Democrat had received in Texas history.

The Three-Time Loss from Holy Cross Runs a Fourth Time

Undaunted, the Carville and Begala team went on. And our careers were resurrected by a man who was then known as one of the greatest failures in his state's political history.

Bob Casey had run for governor of Pennsylvania three times -- and lost three times. A devout Catholic educated by the Jesuits at Holy Cross, Casey was dismissed by the smart guys in Pennsylvania politics when he decided to try a third run for governor in 1986. He had a hard time finding a campaign manager. And as a political-consulting team that had never won a race in our career, we had a hard time finding a candidate. We were like the last two kids at a homecoming dance, homely and awkward. All the good-looking, popular, cool kids had already paired off, leaving us losers behind.

But as Casey used to say, "The view from the canvas can be highly educational." He said he didn't mind being called "the three-time loss from Holy Cross" because the name "captures something about my life and my whole idea of America itself."

Casey used his previous failures, which had come at the hands of a political establishment that didn't want his independent, activist brand of government, to connect with the tough-as-nails people of his Rust Belt state. In 1986 he ran for governor a fourth time in the Democratic primary against Ed Rendell, the slick and savvy Philadelphia D.A. -- and surprised the doubters by beating Rendell handily.

But in the general election Casey, who was from Scranton, was running against a Scranton. William W. Scranton III, to be exact. The movie-star-handsome scion of the legendary Pennsylvania political family and two-term lieutenant governor under the popular Republican governor Dick Thornburgh. It was, Time magazine wrote, like a John O'Hara story.

Casey's father, Alphonsus, had worked in the anthracite coal mines of northeastern Pennsylvania. He'd been a mule tender, a kid who led the mules hauling loads of coal out of the mines. His hands were gnarled from being run over by the heavy coal cars, but his spirit was fierce. Alphonsus Casey had lifted himself out of those mines, gotten an education and become a lawyer. He died in his forties, leaving his son a legacy of bullheaded determination.

Young Bill Scranton's background couldn't have been more different. His father had been governor and a leader of the moderate wing of the GOP. He'd been talked about for the presidency, before the party moved to the Goldwater right. It was a classic matchup: The Scranton family had owned coal mines. The Casey family had worked in them.

After a nip-and-tuck campaign, Scranton opened up a lead in the final days by promising to stop all negative campaigning. The move was effective. The campaign had been rough, and Scranton wisely capitalized on the growing revulsion among voters. We were slow to pick up on it -- in part because we were such junkyard dogs that we were having a ball in the brawl. Besides, we knew that our attacks were more powerful than our positive message.

What do you do when your most effective weapon is neutralized? If you're Bob Casey what you don't do is give up. What you don't do is give in. In this case we tried to lift the campaign out of the mud by announcing that Casey had forbidden us from making an issue out of the alleged drug use in young Scranton's past. (Of course, that little announcement made it an issue, but folks didn't think it counted as negative campaigning.)

Then we did the cruelest thing you can do to a politician: We held young Bill Scranton to his word. We searched every corner of the Keystone State for any sign that Scranton was secretly trashing Casey. Nothing. The election was on November 4, and on October 25, James's forty-second birthday, we went to an afternoon movie to take our minds off our misery. The movie was Peggy Sue Got Married, and the only thing either of us remembers about it is that James periodically burst into tears in the dark, crying, "We're gonna lose! We're gonna lose!"

With that out of our system, we returned to campaign headquarters. There, by some miracle, we heard from a supporter who'd received a piece of attack mail from the Scranton campaign that accused Casey of being part of a corrupt era of politics that had brought Pennsylvania to its knees.

The supporter was upset. We couldn't have been happier. For one thing, Casey had been the reformer who'd fought his own party's corruption for years, so we knew there'd be a backlash. But, more important, we'd caught Scranton attacking, breaking his word, acting like a hypocrite. Gleefully we counterattacked, screaming at reporters with an indignation we hoped hid our glee. We accused Scranton of pontificating on TV, while his hate message "slipped silently through the mail." (As if something ever traveled noisily through the mail.)

Scranton said he hadn't known about the mailing. Big mistake. When you're running for governor, you know or you ought to know everything your campaign is doing. And even if you don't know, you don't pass the buck. People can forgive a mistake, but they hate a weasel who tries to shift blame. Besides, this was a 600,000-piece mailing, hardly the kind of thing that falls through the cracks of a campaign.

To drive our point home, we called Billy McGrath, Casey's son-in-law who worked for a big printing house, and asked him if he could get us 600,000 envelopes and deliver them to our campaign headquarters. To this day Billy's response is the stuff of Pennsylvania political legend. He didn't ask why. He didn't ask if we were crazy. He only asked, "What color?"

Casey went on to win that race and on inauguration day we gave him a small sculpture, carved out of the same anthracite coal his father had helped to mine. It was an image of a load of coal being dragged out of a mine by a mule tender and a team of mules. At the base we'd had engraved: "To Bob Casey, the son of a mule tender who is governor today because he never gave up and never gave in."

Casey would go on to be reelected by one of the greatest landslides in Pennsylvania history -- carrying sixty of the state's sixty-seven counties and defeating his Republican opponent by more than a million votes.

In any other political story that would be the happy ending. Casey's toughness and tenacity led to triumph. But his twenty-year odyssey to become governor was just a tune-up for the challenges to come. During Casey's tenure as governor he had heart bypass surgery, then he was diagnosed with a rare blood disorder that was slowly causing his heart muscle to thicken into a solid mass.

Giving up and dying quietly was not an option for Bob Casey. He found the smartest, most aggressive doctor he could, Dr. Thomas Starzl. Starzl was a pioneer in organ transplantation, and he gave Bob Casey a new heart and a new liver. Casey served his full term and is widely regarded as one of the best governors in Pennsylvania history.

Conservatives rightly remember him for his staunch commitment to his pro-life views. But they conveniently ignore Casey's lionhearted liberalism -- the fact that he'd been endorsed for governor by the Philadelphia Gay News, that he'd pushed for strong environmental regulations, strong unions and a strong government. He created a children's health-care program that became the model for the nation, passed tough environmental laws and reformed public education.

Outside the Governor's Mansion Casey built a statue of a heroic, muscular workingman, in the style popular during the New Deal. Casey worked hard to raise the money to build it. "Because," he once told us, "I want every son of a bitch who ever lives in that house to walk out that door every morning and be reminded he works for the working people of Pennsylvania."

Even more than his political accomplishments or his public-policy contributions, Bob Casey's lasting lesson is the raw power of sheer determination. You won't believe how far you can go if you simply refuse to quit.

Where the Comeback Kid Got His Resilience

Of course, even his most ardent detractors have to admit that Bill Clinton is the king of the comeback. There are a thousand reasons why attacks that would have killed anyone else barely fazed Clinton. But if you want just one, and you want to get touchy-feely about it, you should have known his mother.

Virginia Kelly was a piece of work. Flamboyant, full of life, wide open to whatever came her way. You would never have known by talking to this Hot Springs Auntie Mame that she had been widowed before her first son was born. That her second husband had been an abusive alcoholic who once shot at her with a gun. Or that her third husband had gone to prison, then died of cancer. Or that her beloved son Roger had had a terrible bout with drug addiction, which had landed him in prison as a result of a sting operation approved by her older son. Nor would you have guessed that, during her eldest son's first term in the White House, she was dying of breast cancer and she knew it.

"The most important thing," she said to Paul toward the end, "is to never, ever become bitter. I know some people get shot up in wars and some people die. Everyone has their share of heartache. But you must never become bitter. Never, ever give in to bitterness. Because becoming bitter is giving up."

Ms. Virginia Kelly, God rest her soul, was never bitter. She was no quitter. And neither was her firstborn son. He never said it out loud -- at least not to us -- but we always suspected that in the darkest hours, when everyone was wondering how he could keep on going, he heard his mother telling him, "Bill, you just keep putting one foot in front of the other. The presidency is easy; life is hard." Maybe that's why Clinton always seemed so wonderfully (or, to his adversaries, maddeningly) unaffected by his tribulations. Through his mother he'd seen real pain. Impeachment is a walk in the park compared with burying three husbands and facing terminal cancer with a smile.

Put Yourself in the Position to Win

One of the reasons that people who persevere often succeed in the end is that they put themselves in a position to win. The great Mississippi singer-songwriter Steve Forbert has a song titled "You Cannot Win If You Do Not Play," and like most powerful truths, this one is simple.

The easiest way to be undefeated is to never compete. But folks who don't try, who don't fight, who don't compete are losers already.

If you're one of the people Teddy Roosevelt called "those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat," who sit on the sidelines bitching, do us a favor: Don't buy this book. If you've already bought it, thanks, but give it to someone who wants to get into the arena and fight.

Michael Jordan was able to hit the winning shot at the buzzer in part because he wanted the ball when the game was on the line. The other nine players on the court were skilled professionals, but none of them had the cojones to grab the ball, take the risk and accept the consequences. They might have missed. Hell, Jordan might have missed, too. But you miss 100 percent of the shots you don't take.

Different people have different comfort levels with risk. That's okay. We're not trying to make you into something you're not, and we're not trying to sit in judgment of people who are not as comfortable putting themselves on the line. And there's an important place in the world for people who are risk-averse. We certainly hope the doctors and nurses who have our lives in their hands are risk-averse. But then again they're taking risks with other people's lives. We're talking about taking risks not with your life -- and certainly not with anyone else's life -- just with your career.

Because while we know and love people with a low tolerance for risk, the stark reality is that they are people who have a low propensity for success. Again, this is not a moral judgment. James's daddy was the most risk-averse person you ever saw. He was perfectly content to spend his life as a rural postmaster. For the life of him he could not understand why James, when he was young and single, would want to drive all the way to New Orleans to drink beer and chase women with his buddies. "We've got women here in Carville," he'd say. "And we've got plenty of beer. Besides, you can't park in the French Quarter and God only knows what might happen to you."

He was so risk-averse he didn't even much like it when the country would come out to fix a pothole. "They're just going to mess around and make it worse," he'd grumble.

To be fair (and accurate), Chester Carville was a success in the most important things in life: a devoted husband of thirty-five years, the father of eight children, he served as an army major in World War II and both practiced and preached racial tolerance at a time and in a place where racism was as thick as the humidity.

But this book is about politics and strategy and business and success. They are not the most important things in life. But as we said in the introduction, this ain't the Bible.

Chances are, if you bought this book, you've probably got a higher tolerance for risk than Mr. Carville did. Our hope is that we can ease that tolerance level up another notch or two. Because the odds are easy to figure: If you take more chances, you've got more chances to win. And the converse is also true: If you have a low tolerance for risk, you've got a lower probability of success.

You've probably seen this phenomenon at work in your personal life. How many times have you said "I'm not going to call that girl (or guy). Probably wouldn't go out with me anyway." Well, she (or he) is damn sure not going to go out with you if you don't ask. Back when James was a student at LSU he was smitten with a pretty young girl. She was everything he wasn't: attractive, popular, cool. James had a few classes with her, knew her casually, and she was always nice to him. More times than he can count he picked up the phone and started to call her. And more times than he can count he slammed the phone down in a panic before he dialed the last number.

Fast-forward from that campus crush of 1963 to the lecture circuit of 1997. Thirty-four years later James was giving a speech when a young woman approached him. She was attractive and cool -- and strangely familiar. She said, "Mr. Carville, I don't know if you'd remember her, but my mother went to LSU with you. She said she always had a crush on you, but you never asked her out."

Jesus wept.

James, on the other hand, was reminded once more about how foolish it is to be timid. What was she going to do, that pretty and popular girl, laugh at him? Of course not. She was far too sweet and well bred to do that. But because he was terrified of rejection, James never took the risk. The fewer stories like this you have when you lay your head down at the end of your life, the happier you're going to be.

The Point

The point here is very simple. Don't quit.

It's the ultimate easier-said-than-done lesson. Nobody thinks of himself or herself as a quitter. And yet most people who fail do so because they simply give in. They get tired, or they're worn down, or they lose whatever zeal got them motivated in the first place. There's a reason pit bulls are the best fighting dogs. They're not the biggest or the strongest or the scariest. They're the most tenacious. Once they commit to taking a piece out of your leg, there's precious little on heaven or earth that can get them off you. So be a pit bull, not a Chihuahua.

You can throw the rest of this book away -- and have a damn good shot at being successful in life -- if you swear, right here and right now, that you'll never, ever quit. (But that would be sort of like quitting on the book, though, wouldn't it? Hmmmm. You had no idea we were capable of such existential thought, did you? It's probably best to read on, just so we won't call you a quitter.)

The Legend of Jack LaPellerie

Of all the many legends of James's hometown of Carville, Louisiana, perhaps none has endured longer than that of Jack LaPellerie. Jack was a boilerman on the navy ship that carried President Woodrow Wilson to the signing of the Treaty of Versailles, which ended World War I.

Like virtually all of the white folks in Carville, Jack's people came from France -- with a stopover in Canada. Then these Acadians made their way to Louisiana, where they're known as Cajuns. But Francophiles' love for the motherland endures, and when it was learned that Jack was actually going to France, the local French teacher and lover of all things French, Miss Mamie Grevenberg, was beside herself.

During the entire time Jack was gone, Miss Mamie breathlessly lectured anyone who would listen about the thrilling sights Jack was beholding -- sights no one in that poor little burg had actually seen. So you can imagine the celebration when Jack returned from his heroic voyage. Miss Mamie rushed up to him and in her thick Cajun-French accent asked, "Jacques, tell me everything. Was the food heavenly? Is the Eiffel Tower really as high as the clouds? Is the City of Light as romantic and magical as a Victor Hugo novel?"

And Jack LaPellerie said, "Hell. I never left the boat.

You don't know what could happen in a foreign country like that. Food could be spoiled or the water could make you sick. Nosirree, I stayed safe and sound on that boat."

James's grandmother loved to tell him that story with her own punch line: "And don't you ever forget, son, that ninety percent of the people around here thought Jack was right."

Copyright © 2002 by James Carville and Paul Begala

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Table of Contents


Contents

Acknowledgments

Introduction

• RULE 1: DON'T QUIT. DON'T EVER QUIT.

• RULE 2: KISS ASS

• RULE 3: KICK ASS

• RULE 4: FRAME THE DEBATE

• RULE 5: UNDERSTAND THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN STRATEGY AND TACTICS

• RULE 6: BE OPEN

• RULE 7: KNOW HOW TO COMMUNICATE

• RULE 8: WORK YOUR ASS OFF

• RULE 9: TURN WEAKNESS INTO STRENGTH

• RULE 10: BE NIMBLE, JACK

• RULE 11: KNOW HOW TO RECOVER WHEN YOU REALLY SCREW UP

• RULE 12: KNOW WHAT TO DO WHEN YOU WIN

Conclusion

Source Notes

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Introduction

Introduction

This book won't change your life.

If you buy this book and read it, you will not make $1 million—at least not because you bought this book. This ain't the New Testament or the Tibetan Book of the Dead or the Talmud or the Koran. Buying it won't cause the Today show to do a one-hour special on you, and the opposite sex (or the same sex if that's what floats your boat) will not suddenly find you irresistible.

Here's what you'll get: good, sound advice on how to win. You'll get techniques and tactics that are battle-tested and proven in the white-hot crucible of politics.

In writing this book, we've learned a lot. As intuitive, trust-your-gut political strategists, we're a far cry from the political philosophers or political scientists who have dissected political strategy in scholarly texts. Nor are we corporate turnaround artists, self-help gurus, motivational speakers, retired CEOs or former coaches. All of them have written books that offer unique insights into the game of life as played on their turf.

But our turf is different. American politics at the dawn of the twenty-first century is a brutal, bloody, winner-take-all game. As it should be. The stakes in political combat are not multibillion-dollar mergers or championship rings. Those things are nice, and we're sure they're important to the folks who have a stake in them. But America and the world will not long remember or care whether Ford or GM had the bestselling family minivan, much less whether the Lakers can "three-peat" or Tiger Woods shanks a drive.

There are no higher stakes than determining who runs the only superpower on God's earth. Politics matters. It determines in large measure whether the Dow Jones Industrial Average goes up or down. It determines whether unemployment goes up or down. Whether the welfare rate and the crime rate and the prime rate go up or down—whether America itself goes up or down. Politics, as John F. Kennedy Jr. used to say, is the only game for grown-ups—and too important to be left to the politicians.

And the best thing about American politics is that, on Election Day, you matter more than all the special-interest groups and all the pundits and all the corporations. Because with your vote you decide the fate and future of the greatest nation in human history. That's why, while we never take ourselves seriously, we always took our work in political campaigns very seriously. Candidates have entrusted us with their life's dream, with their fondest hopes, their deepest ambitions, their darkest secrets.

The two of us combined represent nearly a half-century of involvement in politics. From local judicial races to the presidency, we've won some, we've lost some and we've blown some. And along the way we've learned a lot. A Carville-Begala campagin had certain attributes, some of them accidental, but most of them intentional, that reflected our approach to our craft.

We believe our approach is different from most of what you'd find in corporate life for one very simple reason: in business a 49 percent market share means you're rich. In campaigns it means you're through. In our business there is only absolute victory and abject defeat—and both your victories and your defeats are played out on the front page of newspapers. That kind of zero-sum game, with those kinds of stakes, sharpens your approach.

Will political lessons translate to your corporate culture, your life, your work, your country? You'll have to judge for yourself. But we think so, and here's why: Having run campaigns on three continents and in too many states to mention, we recognize how very different each unique set of circumstances is. So we've tried to focus these rules on the eternal verities, on the stuff that works anywhere.

And that itself is a lesson: Focus on the big picture. When James went to Israel to help get Ehud Barak elected prime minister, he joked that after months of research he'd concluded that the election was going to be decided by one factor: the all-important Jewish vote. But behind that joke was a larger truth: It really didn't matter so much whether the Sabbath was on a Saturday or a Sunday; the same principles apply. Speed, a culture of aggressive action, openness, empowering people, rapid response—all work across all borders.

And if the audience you're trying to reach is smaller than the one hundred million voters we spend our time trying to reach, we believe these lessons are even more important because your target audience is even more sophisticated, even more interested, even more up-to-the-minute. You should take note of the differences between our world and yours, but do not become enmeshed in them. The principles apply. The precise method of how you apply them is just one more test of your talent and creativity and flexibility.

The bottom line is that if you're faster, smarter and more aggressive than the other guy (or gal), you're going to win more often than not. The purpose of this book is to make you faster, smarter and more aggressive.

We aren't attempting to rewrite Machiavelli or Sun-tzu; no one will be studying this book five hundred years from now. But we do hope that we can give you practical, applicable strategies that will help you close a deal, land an account, get a raise, earn a promotion, win an election. And, most of all, beat your competition.

Copyright © 2002 by James Carville and Paul Begala

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