One of the Northeast GOP’s top campaigners tells how he became an agent of corruption for the Republican revolution.
Raymond’s great-grandfather, John Thomas Underwood, founded the famous typewriter company, and while the author’s share of that fortune ensured that he’d never go hungry, “family pride—hell, my own pride—ensured that I’d never be some yacht-hopping scion.” After graduating from college in 1989 and spending a few desultory years in PR, he wandered into the Graduate School of Political Management. Based at the time in New York City, GSPM pushed a militaristic, Machiavellian approach to the business that was seductive to a drifter like Raymond: “I wanted to pick a fight, have a fight, and win a fight.” For little apparent ideological reason, he went to work for the Republicans in New Jersey; later he ran a doomed campaign for a pro-choice GOP Philadelphia socialite with more friends than smarts. Raymond climbed the party ladder during the heady post-Gingrich days, when the very thought of compromise could infuriate the new South-centric Republican leadership, whose campaign rhetoric he derides as “pro-life, snake-handling babble.” It’s surprising at first to hear such criticisms from a highly placed operative in the Republican National Committee, but it becomes markedly less so once Raymond gets to the crux of the matter: how he was hung out to dry and went to jail for following orders to jam Democratic volunteers’ phone lines. As he states early on, “In GOP circles in 2002 it seemed preposterous that anything you did to win an election could be considered a crime.” He saw the light in prison and decided to tell the American voters about the dirty tricks he practiced, which he sees growing ever more common. “Now what are you going to do about it?” he asks.
Refreshingly candid about his vindictive motives, Raymond offers a damning chronicle of political hubris.