We're with Nobody: Two Insiders Reveal the Dark Side of American Politics

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Overview

In politics, finding the dirt is a multimillion-dollar business.

It’s called opposition research—“oppo” to insiders. Few Americans are aware of its existence, yet oppo has become an integral part of the campaign process, hastening the implosion of countless office-seekers around the country.

For nearly two decades, former journalists Alan Huffman and Michael Rejebian have been uncovering the buried truths about political candidates, from ...

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We're with Nobody: Two Insiders Reveal the Dark Side of American Politics

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Overview

In politics, finding the dirt is a multimillion-dollar business.

It’s called opposition research—“oppo” to insiders. Few Americans are aware of its existence, yet oppo has become an integral part of the campaign process, hastening the implosion of countless office-seekers around the country.

For nearly two decades, former journalists Alan Huffman and Michael Rejebian have been uncovering the buried truths about political candidates, from presidential appointees all the way down to local school-board hopefuls. We’re with Nobody is the eye-opening account of their life as opposition researchers—a remarkable adventure across the American political landscape and through the often seamy underbelly of U.S. politics. From doing battle with reluctant, sometimes purposefully misleading bureaucrats to arriving in an unmarked police car for a clandestine meeting on the New Jersey waterfront, We’re with Nobody offers readers a revealing slice of national and political life: a close-up look at today’s political process, the fallible men and women we often choose to represent us and the little-understood industry of trying to bring candidates’ weaknesses to light.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In this timely book, journalists Huffman (Ten Point) and Rejebian lift the curtain on political research to find dirt on opponents. While Americans are accustomed to hearing scandalous facts, lies, distortions, and gossip during campaigns, few people understand how legal political intelligence gathering has grown in scope since the Watergate break-in of 1972. Based on close to 20 years on the road, these two veteran practitioners, who worked for both parties, but mostly for Democratic clients, recount both minor legal infractions and major transgressions that they’ve uncovered on the part of individuals running for public office. While an occasional candidate has an unblemished record, most of Huffman and Rejebian’s subjects are unsavory. The authors defend their line of work, claiming the mantle of truth seekers, and asserting that their efforts are crucial to America’s “evolving democracy.” However, readers will likely shake their heads over the multiple car wrecks of people’s lives seen here. While possible solutions are mentioned in passing (such as truth-in-political-advertising laws that include fines and enforcement mechanisms, and resources like Factcheck.org and PolitiFact.com), the authors seem too accepting of this sorry state of affairs to clamor for change. Agent: Patricia Moosbrugger Literary Agency. (Feb.)
Sebastian Junger
"This book floored me. I could not stop reading about the strange, dark world that helps determine who we elect and who sinks back into the muck. It is phenomenal; for me politics will never be the same."
SEBASTIAN JUNGER
“This book floored me. I could not stop reading about the strange, dark world that helps determine who we elect and who sinks back into the muck. It is phenomenal; for me politics will never be the same.”
Kirkus Reviews
A bright romp through the world of opposition political research. Since 1993, former journalists Huffman (Sultana: Surviving the Civil War, Prison, and the Worst Maritime Disaster in American History, 2009, etc.) and Rejebian have worked in "oppo," gathering damaging information on political candidates and their opponents in local, state and national elections. "Everything we cite in our reports must be thorough, honest, accurate and, as we can't stress enough, documented," they write. How clients use the information is a different story. In this revealing, anecdote-filled account, the authors describe a year of investigations that took them from front porches to courthouses to presidential libraries in search of "political intel." We see them reviewing municipal records under guard, pitching prospective clients, fending off difficult people, fielding suspicious phone calls and using ingenious methods to deal with officious government clerks. No one knows quite what to make of them ("Who did you say you're with?"), and they vacillate privately over their own identity, seeing themselves on one hand as journalists without bylines and on the other as "part investigator, part critic, part paid informant." In fact, they are partners in the political research firm Huffman & Rejebian, part of a multimillion-dollar industry that is "a crucial underpinning" of American politics. Ironically, the authors are not deeply political people; they express disgust at the nastiness of American politics and amazement at the undocumented claims some candidates will make to get elected. They refuse to rely solely on online sources (often inaccurate or incomplete) and instead beat a path by foot to the doors of ex-wives and others in the know. They say many candidates don't know what's in their own record and don't want to. One prospective candidate, confronted with an incident report about the beating he gave his girlfriend at an airport, dropped his plans to run. A good book for anyone who has wondered how scandalous past behavior makes its way into campaign headlines.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780062015778
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 1/24/2012
  • Edition description: Original
  • Pages: 191
  • Sales rank: 1,287,849
  • Product dimensions: 5.20 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Alan Huffman

A partner in the political research firm Huffman & Rejebian, Alan Huffman has been a farmer; newspaper reporter; and aide to a Mississippi attorney general and a Mississippi governor. A contributor to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the New York Times, Smithsonian magazine and other publications, he is the author of Ten Point, Mississippi in Africa and Sultana.

Michael Rejebian has been a journalist and newspaper reporter in Texas and Mississippi; director of communications for the Office of Mayor, City of Jackson, Mississippi; political advisor to the Attorney General of Mississippi; and a partner in Huffman & Rejebian.

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Customer Reviews

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( 4 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Posted April 26, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Written by two journalists-turned-political-opposition researche

    Written by two journalists-turned-political-opposition researchers, Alan Huffman and Michael Rejebian, the book recounts their work digging up information on politicians, from US Senate hopefuls to local school board candidates.

    The men tell their story in alternate chapters, but the gist of it is that they travel to local government offices to gather information that is supposed to be available to anyone who asks, i.e. voting records, tax records, court documents, etc. One big take-away from this book is that people who work in these government offices are frequently reluctant to share this information, even though it is their job to do so.

    Time after time, the researchers have to cajole, flatter, and sometimes get indignant to get the information they need. The first question that is usually asked of them is "Who are you with?", thus leading to the title of the book. Their answer, more often than not, is "none of your business."

    The government employees often stall, and the researchers have been followed back to their hotel and verbally threatened to go "back where they came from." This book reinforces the often-held opinion that government employees are uncooperative.

    The men state that they are "guided, more or less, by the conviction that no one is fit to lead unless proven otherwise." They see themselves as "seekers of the truth." They believe that discovering the truth is"more crucial than ever, when today's news is prone to distortion, willful ignorance and lies."

    I loved this quote: "Truth is a word that should never be qualified. It's like pregnancy; it's yes or no", and they quote Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan who supposedly said "everyone is entitled to his own opinions, but not his facts." Amen to that!

    One of the more interesting incidents happened when they talked to the ex-wife of a candidate they were researching. They were looking about information about his business dealings, of which she had none. In the course of conversation, she complained that he never took her anywhere, but he takes his new girlfriend everywhere, and that he was arrested for beating the girlfriend up in an airport.

    That piece of information might be useful. She said it happened on vacation, so Michael found out where they vacationed, pulled out a map, checked possible routes, and proceeded to call airports to ask about arrest reports. After many, many phone calls, he finds the report.

    That information is passed along to a friend of the man, who takes the report to the candidate and shows it to him. The candidate withdrew from the running.

    The men say that finding information on politicians, such as who donated to the campaigns, and who benefits from their votes is important. They state "the same type of systemic abuse that results in poorly built sidewalks in an out-of-the-way township resulted in the failed federal response to Hurricane Katrina." I'm not sure I totally buy that, but it is something to ponder.

    They don't name names, although the reader is able to figure out that they did research on US Senate hopeful Christine O'Donnell and Sarah Palin.

    Political junkies will enjoy this fascinating look at a part of the political process that is usually done under the cover of darkness, and has been done since the time of Caesar. The subject is interesting and timely in this election year, and you will look at political ads in a different light after reading this book.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 11, 2012

    Waste of time and money

    I have never reviewed a book before. But I made an exception. Basically, the authors run out of actual material after two or three chapters. After that they subject us to something like ten extended, boring, stream of conciousness analogies- at least one per chapter- about what they do and why it matters and their shockingly naive, smug, partisan political views.

    Their silly, shallow, non expert discussion of politics in general and political theory in particular is the same crap you have to force yourself to sit there and listen to politely when you go to the family reunion and your weird uncle Ernie starts telling everyone who will listen his latest thoughts and theories about life and politics and you cant respond, even to the dumbest things he says, because you dont want to start a fight.

    It gets two stars because when they are telling actual stories instead of wasting my time with their opinions, it is pretty good. Unfortunately they cant seem to stick to what they actually know and understand, and the book is overall incredibly boring as a result.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 20, 2012

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    Posted September 12, 2012

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