Is Ohio’s junior senator planning a 2012 run for president?
For someone who claims to have at one point been uncomfortable with campaigning, Schultz (Life Happens, 2006), a Pulitzer Prize–winning columnist and wife of Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH), sure does enough of it in this book. The story of her life during election season opens two years after Schultz and Brown married, and two weeks after Brown decided to give up a safe congressional seat to run against Mike DeWine, a two-term Republican incumbent in 2004’s most famous swing state. One morning, as Schultz watched, two men in bespoke suits leap out of a car and attempt to steal the family’s garbage. They were thwarted by Schultz and her disabled dog, but, clearly, the stage was set for drama. The campaign only got dirtier from there: Soon DeWine’s attack ads were using images of 9/11; critics demanded to know why Schultz kept her name; and Brown’s ex-wife had to clarify that, though they may have endured a bitter divorce, Brown is neither a bad man nor a wife beater. While Schultz delivers a chilling account of the hits she, her family and her career took, giving the now-clichéd term “battleground state” new life, she often dwells too lovingly on minor slights—it seems every reporter, every senior citizen, every blogger who slighted her or her husband is mentioned here—and wastes time establishing salt-of-the-earth credibility for herself and her husband when she could be bringing their characters to life. The book has all the elements we’ve seen in the autobiographies of politicians preparing a big run: canned home truths; hard-knock upbringings; genealogies proving a connection to the common man; and—most irritating of all—attempts to humanize through small “quirky” details. We learn, for example, that Schultz likes Brown’s hair curly, not cropped, and that Brown does romantic things for their anniversary—but Brown himself remains a cipher.
A book disappointingly devoid of substance.