The Scandal Plan: Or: How to Win the Presidency by Cheating on Your Wife

Overview

With only a few months until Election Day, presidential- hopeful Senator Ben Phillips is getting battered in the polls and his staff is getting desperate. Smart, capable, fair, and honest, Phillips is the perfect man for the job—but he bores the voting public because he's such a straight arrow. Fortunately, political guru Thomas Campman has had an epiphany: all the candidate needs to revitalize his image—and to clear his path to the White House—is a tiny fake sex scandal, because there's nothing more humanizing ...

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The Scandal Plan

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Overview

With only a few months until Election Day, presidential- hopeful Senator Ben Phillips is getting battered in the polls and his staff is getting desperate. Smart, capable, fair, and honest, Phillips is the perfect man for the job—but he bores the voting public because he's such a straight arrow. Fortunately, political guru Thomas Campman has had an epiphany: all the candidate needs to revitalize his image—and to clear his path to the White House—is a tiny fake sex scandal, because there's nothing more humanizing than a harmless bit of dirt from the past.

But scandals—even the premeditated kind—rarely go as planned. And this made-up indiscretion is about to snowball into the biggest three-ring circus since Watergate.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

An earnest presidential hopeful's campaign staff invents a sex scandal in Folman's slick debut. After Machiavellian campaign manager Thomas Campman hears a voice telling him that sin will make his struggling candidate, Sen. Ben Phillips, human, Campman convinces Ben and his fellow advisers that having the candidate admit to a made-up, decades-old affair will endear him to the masses. Though the plan energizes the campaign and boosts Ben's image, it also puts a strain on Ben's marriage, and after other women begin claiming in the press to have had affairs with Ben, the ruse threatens to end in ruin. Though the novel takes a while to find its footing, Folman does a great job of constructing a funny, fast-paced story with plenty of texture. Side plots involving a young ambitious reporter and Campman's driver are neatly folded into the main goings-on, and it's especially enjoyable to chart Ben's transformation from flustered novice to confident charmer, even as his new persona begins to take him over the edge. The lackluster early chapters may thwart readers looking for a biting political satire, but those willing to stay the course will be greatly rewarded. (June)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Kirkus Reviews
Dirty and not-so-dirty tricks snarl a presidential campaign in Los Angeles resident Folman's debut. It's three months before the election, and Democratic Senator Ben Phillips is many points behind his rival, President Gregory Struck. Phillips goes rigid before the cameras, while the easygoing Struck is a guy you'd want to have a beer with. Both men are cardboard creations. While Struck mangles his words, Phillips is flawlessly articulate, and that's the problem: He's too good. However, his campaign manager Tom Campman has a plan to make his candidate slightly flawed, more human, maybe even cool. Invent a sexual indiscretion in his past, and the electorate will warm to him. He sells the senator and his wife Melissa on the plan (not easy; they're a faithful, devoted couple) and lines up the Other Woman. Tina James is just right, sexy and credible, and she sticks to the script, telling the world she and Phillips had a one-night stand 20 years before. That's pretty tame, so Folman tries to juice up the action by introducing other alleged old flames. The plot is still skimpy, so Folman introduces other diversions. Teen virgins attempt phone sex! Clownish Mexican chauffeur scores big as double agent! That same chauffeur, selling his tapes of Campman's conversations to the Republicans, becomes the quarry in a high-speed chase. All the hijinks would be fine if the humor were not so labored and sophomoric; the climax is more of the same, one almighty slap delivered at the final debate. Curiously, Campman's one really dirty trick, which involved blackmail and a candidate's suicide, happened during the primaries and is not properly integrated into the main story line. For all its busyness, a farcewithout sparkle or fizz.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061447655
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 5/13/2008
  • Pages: 448
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Bill Folman has enjoyed a brief career as a theater actor, directed a few short films, earned a few degrees, and spent countless hours shouting at the evening news. He lives with his wife in Los Angeles, where he writes books and screenplays.

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First Chapter

The Scandal Plan
Or: How to Win the Presidency by Cheating on Your Wife

Chapter One

The Billy Mack Show

Putting on makeup in front of a room full of people was always a strange thing. Senator Ben Phillips wondered if he'd ever get to the point where it felt normal. Probably not, he decided. As Shelly Greenblatt and Thomas Campman peppered him with last-minute questions and his makeup man powdered him with last-minute powder, as his assistant Charlie fixed him a glass of apple juice, Campman's wife photographed him, and his own wife smiled at him, Ben realized that this predebate ritual was something very few Americans would ever experience. There was a feeling in the air that history was about to be made, and the effect was dizzying.

"Remember not to let him out-smile you," said Shelly, who was pacing. "Struck is gonna be smiling and smirking. You can't always look serious in response. Smirk back sometimes."

"Shelly, I'm not gonna smirk at the president."

"Well just don't let him out-smile you by too great a margin."

"I know. I know."

"You're gonna do fine," said Campman.

"Ben, you'll be wonderful," said Melissa, always the supportive spouse. "You'll finally have a chance to square off on the issues, and that's exactly what we want. I'll say it again: I really don't see how he has a chance."

Melissa Phillips was wearing her green dress, the one that drew attention to the blazing green of her eyes. Her brunette hair fell down in waves, stopping at her shoulders but brushing the gold necklace that matched her conservative emerald earrings just a little too well. With herred lips and warm subtle smile, she looked every bit the first lady, sitting in that leather dressing room chair. What gave her away was the over-eagerness of her posture, the tension in her shoulders, and the tapping of her foot, all signs conspiring to betray her as the nervous girlfriend of a boxer, minutes before the big fight.

Melissa Phillips was a part-time member of the campaign, flying back and forth from D.C., where she continued to teach English at Georgetown University. She only had one summer class and was set for a light course load in the fall, but she refused to give up teaching altogether while her husband campaigned. He respected her for that. Ben had even grown to enjoy her constant coming and going from the campaign trail. As much as he knew it exhausted her, he couldn't deny that it energized him, these repeated farewells and rendezvous across the country. Seeing his beautiful wife after an absence of forty-eight hours was always a thrill for him, and this evening was no exception. He was, in fact, particularly excited to have her on set for to-night's televised debate on The Billy Mack Show.

President Struck's handlers had weaseled their way down to two debates for the campaign season, and tonight's tête-à-tête wasn't even a traditionally structured debate, but rather a casual seated double interview with America's most-watched TV interviewer, the grand softballer himself: Billy Mack.

The importance of the evening could not be overstated, particularly for Senator Ben Phillips. After months of sliding in the polls, The Billy Mack Show represented a crucial opportunity to turn around the momentum of the campaign, something that millions of dollars in advertising and a skillfully orchestrated Democratic convention had thus far failed to do. Ben Phillips knew he was running out of chances.

The dressing room was quiet now. Everything that needed to be said had been said numerous times. In this calm before the storm, as the makeup artist worked to define his eyes, the senator allowed his mind to wander.

He thought about Campman's crazy idea. It had been four days since his top advisors approached him with their plan to create a sex scandal. Ben thought they were joking at first but was surprised to find they actually considered this to be a viable strategy. He was even more surprised to find his old friend Shelly Greenblatt was one of the folks behind it all. After the meeting, he had pulled Shelly aside.

"Shel, do you really think this is a good idea?"

Ben knew that Shelly Greenblatt couldn't lie believably. Whenever the slightest fib was attempted, Shelly's body would have a violent physiological response. His skin would turn red, his throat would close up, and he would get short of breath. This made him a terrible choice to run for office but a great choice for an advisor, and Ben trusted him completely. For any politician who finds himself surrounded by "yes men" (and most do at one time or another), a savvy friend who is willing to give it to you straight is your most valuable asset. At the moment, Shelly's face was reddish but far from its peak hue. He would be telling the truth.

Shelly sighed. "I think it's probably not a good idea, Ben. But we are running out of options here. I just don't know what to tell you. Unless you can work some magic in that debate. . . . But then, I'm sure you will. You have to."

Ben found Shelly's grave tone troubling. He wondered: had his campaign really sunk this low? Was his situation so dire that they would actually entertain such a ridiculous idea?

Ben couldn't let himself believe it. He decided to stall, telling his advisors he wouldn't discuss any drastic measures for another week. "Let's see if the numbers pick up after the Billy Mack debate," he'd said.

Ben knew he was the more skilled debater, and his senatorial record was much less vulnerable to attack than the president's record (which was riddled with broken promises, inconsistencies, and poor judgment). Still, despite his confidence about the debate itself, Ben was deeply troubled by the bigger picture. He knew that for whatever reason, the public wasn't listening to him. And he knew he was losing. Badly.

The Scandal Plan
Or: How to Win the Presidency by Cheating on Your Wife
. Copyright © by Bill Folman. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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Sort by: Showing all of 6 Customer Reviews
  • Posted January 24, 2012

    An awesome and hilarious read! SO relevant to our times!

    This book was fabulously funny and witty, and truly is relevant for the upcoming election. It follows Senator Ben Phillips who is suffering in the polls before election, and so his campaign manager comes up with idea to create a fake scandal to increase publicity. Other subplots are woven into this story to conclude in a surprising ending. A great cast of characters too. I laughed my way through this one. Definitely on the Must Read list!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 31, 2011

    Excelent

    A great read.

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  • Posted September 28, 2009

    Funny and Irreverent

    A fun fictional look at the inner-workings of a desperate presidential campaign. At times laugh-out-loud funny, Folman takes the reader on an enjoyable ride straight through election day. Liberal or conservative, you should find something to enjoy about "The Scandal Plan."

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 28, 2008

    A reviewer

    If you want to know who you are deep inside. If you need to understand why do you always feel 'atracted' to the badboy/wildgirl. Even worst... why do you feel like dumping the 'nice gal/guy' who is part of your life? Then you must buy this book: It is the answer to all your prayers! You'll laught out loud with no fear, while the mystery's veil is ripped off to reveal our naked humanity: Our Underdog Hero vs. the Boring Overachiever Story. The Why We Americans Always Go With Second Chances and Love the Underdog Above All!

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  • Posted February 2, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    perfection can be a problem

    While untold miles of paragraphs have been written about the upcoming presidential election and the aspiring candidates it's doubtful that any are more edgy, more entertaining than those found in Bill Folman's debut novel The Scandal Plan. Take a picture perfect candidate, and he is picture perfect, '.....standing on the podium with his spine at attention, the late afternoon sun picking out the orange highlights in his graying head of hair.' Problem is Senator Benjamin Phillips, Democrat from Oklahoma, is just too perfect. His credentials are unassailable - he memorized the capitals of every nation in the fourth grade, was active in student politics, Vietnam veteran, Oxford, Harvard Law, and the U.S. Senate. He has worked for the White House all of his life and now with less than three months before the election an AP poll shows him 20 points behind the president. He's beleaguered by a major political gaff - in Nashville he called barbecued pulled pork on a bun his favorite sandwich when five months prior he had called a New York City pastrami on rye his favorite sandwich. This has become a major scandal - Sandwich-Gate, if you will. Poor Ben doesn't know how to deal with this. The issue worsens when he tries 'to have it both ways, claiming that while pulled pork was his favorite hot sandwich, pastrami was his favorite cold one.' Oh-oh, another gaff when all know that pastrami is usually hot. What can be done to save Ben's dream of holding the highest office in the land? Enter Thomas Campman, political advisor extra ordinaire, who believes he can restart Ben's campaign by creating a false scandal. Ben would no longer be picture perfect when people learn that he had once been unfaithful to his wife. What could be more winning than a man who confesses (when his phony former mistress comes forward) to this very understandable error and then asks forgiveness? There's many a slip twixt the plan and the outcome, all of which are smile provoking. Bill Folman has created a capital comedy of errors -enjoy! - Gail Cooke

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 20, 2008

    Great summer read

    THE SCANDAL PLAN is the perfect antidote to this year's election madness. It's laugh-out-loud funny with fantastic characters--one of the best political satires I've read in a long time.

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