Analysis Of Primary Colors


Analysis Of Primary Colors Essay, Research Paper

Politics is a bloodsport, one big game of corruption, muckraking, prostitution, and defilement, which is played by the politicians, the media, and the seemingly innocent public that tends to forget that politicians are humans also, no better than the masses except for one thing, the ability to play the game. Primary Colors by Anonymous portrays this fraudulent game perfectly, exhibiting all of the dark aspects of a political campaign: from the vicious media in their pursuit of scandals, to the traitorousness of opposing candidates to destroy each other, all the way to the secretive sexual interactions taking place during the campaigning process. Yet in this vice-corrupted novel, Anonymous also manages to let the human side of the tainted politicians shine through, showing that they are imperfect, that they have flaws and weaknesses, and that they make mistakes in exactly the same fashion as all other human beings do. It is with these decadent political figures, Jack Stanton and Freddy Picker, that Anonymous in Primary Colors shows that there is still a nobleness to politics, a dedication to the voters, a love of the political game, and a human compassion in all of it.

It is important to mention the definition of noble in order to avoid misunderstanding the word, for according to the Microsoft Encarta 97 Encyclopedia, the definition of noble is stately and imposing; of magnanimous nature, and referring to The Merriam-Webster Dictionary, noble means characterized by or indicative of virtue or magnanimity; high minded; imposing of appearance; grand; impressive (475). Both definitions of the word noble imply that a person can have a noble appearance and that a person s main objectives and actions are noble, but one should keep in mind that even noble people are not perfect people. This is especially true with the characters of Jack Stanton and Freddy Picker. Jack Stanton s appearance, especially when he is presenting himself to the public, doing what he loves best mingling with the folks, is noble. The public looks up to him, he was a big fellow (Anon., 1) and the manner in which he interacts with the people, his meaningful handshakes and physical contact to them, truly listening to them, always remembering their names, and considering them friends is exemplary of nobleness. On the other hand, Freddy Picker s appearance is completely different, a trim, taut, and serious man, someone who has had to struggle to come to terms with himself (299), but his nobility comes forth when he speaks to the public. In all of his public appearances, Picker always seems to be speaking what is exactly on his mind–just speaking the truth, and even when the reader discovers that he has been putting up a fa ade all along, the fact that Picker admits to his conflicts and problems only re-emphasizes his nobleness.

One of the most important components to a political campaign is the voter, for no political candidate can be elected without someone voting for them. The dedication of both candidates, Stanton and Picker, to their voters is another aspect that accentuates their nobleness. Stanton is remarkable in his devotion to the public; the ability to reach out and interact with the public and the power to help them is the reason why he loves politics. While campaigning it is the people that need him, like Danny Scanlon the crippled boy, the adult illiterates, or the unemployed in Portsmouth, that keep Stanton going, for they deserved a better country and that was what this election had to be about (144). There is a truth to Stanton s promises, similar to the way he doesn t forget people s names and the aspects of their personal lives, he also doesn t forget the promises he gives them in return for their support. For example, he remembers the promise that he made to Fat Willie about having him open a branch of his restaurant up in the capitol (214). But on the overall it is Stanton s genius that allows the people to relate to him, he lets them know that he associates with the problems they have and that he really cares about those problems (44), that is a noteworthy feature of his. With Freddy Picker, it is his honesty to the voters–to the American public, admitting the mistakes he had made in the past and confessing that he is not qualified to even pretend to run for the presidency, (501) what highlights his nobleness and shows how dedicated he is to the masses.

The truism of the unscrupulous game of politics is that one has to love the game dearly in order to succeed in it and be a good, noble politician. Picker does love the game, he does it for the pleasure of the challenge (486), but he plays for himself, and not for the public, which is a dangerous thing (486). His addiction to the political game as well as drugs made him quit the first time in 1978, and it is his addiction and not his love for the game that makes him crumble under the pressure of the present campaign. Picker avoids the game while campaigning against Stanton, and everyone on the Stanton campaign notices it, especially Jack himself: He isn t playing the game at all, not in any way He s not going to be able to sustain it (422). And the fact that Picker drops out of the campaign shows nobility, for he realizes he doesn t love the game enough to be as good a politician as Stanton is, and he even lets Stanton know this when he asks him how he manages under the pressure of the negative media (459).

In comparison to Picker, there is no one who loves the game more than Stanton, he needs the game and he does also admit to being addicted to it, but in the sense that he loves the interaction with the people and the game s strategy (496). Knowing that the game is necessary to succeed in politics, that it has developed very slowly and logically over time (422) shows that Stanton is high minded, a quality of being noble. His true love and dedication to the game come forth many times throughout Primary Colors, especially around the time of the Cashmere McLeod scandal when Stanton was regarded as history by the malicious media and it was in those times where he is running on sheer will power (228) that he eventually manages to prove everyone wrong. Or when the McCollister story broke, Stanton was completely humiliated at a Women s Political Caucus in New York and he didn t know if he could take much more, but he continues to fight (402-403), knowing that this is part of the game and he has to be able to deal with it if he wants to become President. Frustration does take hold of Stanton several times for he wants to prove to the people that he is not the average politician, he loves the game and he plays it, but not for ambition and glory but because we love doin for the folks (260).

There are times when ambition does dominate over the candidates nobleness, but this is only human and the ruthlessness is made up for and replaced with human compassion. Caught up in the race of political campaigning, Stanton almost decides to double-cross Picker with muckraking, Jack has forgotten that his central idea was to bring an end to that type campaigning and to make it clean. Because if its clean, we win because our ideas are better (465). The loss of a dear friend makes him remember his true beliefs and ideals, and that is when his compassion overcomes him as he realizes that he has become as corrupt as any other politician and the only noble thing to be done is to end his campaign (477). But that moment is not the only one where Stanton s emotional side comes forth, for there are many instances where Stanton cries–not fake tears but truly meant ones like when he visits the adult literacy program in Harlem (8). A similar moving situation occurs when Picker shows the same sort of compassion when he takes over Lawrence Harris s campaign and sheds a tear (346). Yet the most compassionate moment is when Picker breaks down while confessing to Stanton that he is afraid of the media s power to destroy his life, and Stanton immediately rushes to hug him, rocks him gently, and kisses him on the top of his head while Picker cries on Stanton s chest (495). The action speaks for itself: two grown men, tough political figures, becoming as loving and caring as a mother with her child–true human compassion.

Even in the fierce and heartless business of politics, certain noble human attributes such as a dedication to the public, a love of the game of politics, and the compassion shared in this sport are necessary for politicians, such as Jack Stanton and Freddy Picker, to succeed. Through Primary Colors, Anonymous truly depicts their imperfections, defects, and addictions in such manner that the reader realizes that these characters can not be perfect just because they are politicians. Although political figures are in the public eye, they are human like every other person and the pressure and demand to be faultless by the public is unreasonable and superlative. Politician s imperfection is best summarized by Anonymous character, Jack Stanton: This is about the ability to lead. It s not about perfection (503).

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