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Being a public figure is no walk in the park - the world focuses on every move that politicians make and highlights their every mistake. "Image collapse" can befall anyone whose carefully cultivated persona is pitted against intermediaries in the broadcast booths of cable news networks or behind the photo desks of newspapers, magazines, and today's host of digital platforms.
As a world-traveling "advance man," an operative who orchestrates TV- and photo-ready moments involving important political figures, Josh King has unique experience working with the reputations of officeholders, candidates and other public figures. In Off Script, King leads readers through an entertaining and illuminating journey through the Hall of Infamy of some of the most catastrophic examples of political theater of the last quarter century. Readers might remember these cringe worthy moments as simple cases of bad luck. King argues, instead, that they were symptomatic of something larger: our broad appetite for public embarrassment, the mediaís business imperatives in satiating that craving, and the propensity of politicians to serve it up on a platter, often by pretending to be someone theyíre not while strutting on the public stage.
We tour recent history Ė King calls it ďthe Age of OpticsĒ Ė to establish this syndrome, and then turn to the Obama administration and what Josh calls the emergence of the "Vanilla Presidency." King argues that Barack Obama has been more guarded and more protective of the presidential persona than anyone in history, and as we look to the elections of 2016 and beyond, we have to wonder: Will our future president follow Obama's example? If so, how will that influence the relationship between our nation's citizens and their leader?
Preface: The American Spectacle
Prologue: The Trophy President
Introduction: Politics 101
PART ONE: THE WORST POLITICAL EVENT IN HISTORY
1. The Advance Man
2. Playing with Firepower
3. This Whole Idea Stinks
4. The Troubleshooter
5. Game Day
6. A Story with Legs
7. Tank You Very Much
PART TWO: GETTING TANKED, 1992-2012
8. History Repeats Itself, Or Does It?
9. 1992: Bush and the Supermarket Scanner (Or, How a Courteous Gesture Cemented the President's Elitist Label)
10. 1996: Dole's Precipitous Fall (Or, How a War Hero Bending over a Balustrade Became Too Old to Be President)
11. 2000: Gore Floats into "Floodgate" (Or, How a Dam Release Turned an Environmentalist into a Hypocrite)
12. 2004: Bush, Dean and Kerry (Or, the Sign, the Scream and the Windsurfer)
13. 2008: McCain Goes Green (Or, How Bad Branding Made Mockery of a Maverick)
14. 2012: Romney Sings an American Tune (Or, How a Patriotic Businessman Crooned His Way to Caricature)
PART THREE: THE VANILLA PRESIDENCY
15. Obama and the Batsman
16. Controlling Image
17. The Last Mile
18. Comfortable in Your Skin
19. The New Age of Optics
Epilogue: Wearing Many Hats