Parlor games: The author mystery surrounding "O"
January 19th, 2011
06:22 PM ET
12 years ago

Parlor games: The author mystery surrounding "O"

(CNN) - The Ticker would be remiss if we did not throw ourselves into the latest Washington parlor game of trying to guess the identity of the anonymous author of the soon-to-be-released "O," a self-titled "political novel" that fictitiously forecasts President Barack Obama's upcoming campaign for re-election.

We received an advanced copy so we're giving you a sneak peek – with a little analysis (and read to the bottom because we're offering prizes to the first correct guesses for when the real author is inevitably revealed).

Whoever wrote the book is well-versed in the tactical minutia of presidential campaigns and the behind-the-scenes maneuvering of the press corps that covers them. Major characters in the story include Avi Samuelson, a thinly veiled clone of White House Senior Adviser David Axelrod, Maddy Cohan, a reporter for the hot-shot political blog "Body Politic" (clearly meant to be today's "Politico"), who seems to be based on an amalgamation of different reporter-personalities and Cal Regan, who is also a finely-crafted personality blend of operatives we all know and love (or love to hate). Finally, there is Walter LaFontaine, a longtime, loyal "O" aide on the outs with the inner circle.

The story begins in the Spring of 2011 and proceeds through a tumultuous 2012 re-election campaign. Along with fictitious White House and campaign staffers whose personality traits are vaguely familiar, there are glimpses of real-life, well-known GOP operatives woven in as well. And the Republican presidential candidate, retired General Thomas Irwin Morrison, has some recognizable traits, too.

The book officially releases on January 25th. Jonathan Karp, of Simon and Schuster, who published the book, says in the book press release that "the author is someone who has been in the room with President Obama and knows this world intimately. The author wishes to remain anonymous to avoid being pigeonholed or ignored or scorned on the basis of associations, views, or background."

This formula has been used before – "Primary Colors" comes to mind, the bestselling novel that anonymously painted a behind-the-scenes picture of President Clinton's first presidential campaign. Political journalist Joe Klein was eventually revealed as the author.

The comparison between "Primary Colors" and "O" is easily made if for nothing other than the anonymity of the author. "O" is dedicated "For K and R," and in the acknowledgements "K" and "R" are mentioned again when the author writes, "Finally, for their generous friendship, I want to thank K and R, to whom this book is affectionately dedicated."

Who do you think wrote "O"? Please submit your guess below in the comments section. Winners will receive (like the novel's author) a yet-to-be-determined prize. Good Luck!

Filed under: CNN Political Ticker
soundoff (14 Responses)
  1. Patriots Salute the Flag! Traitors don't!!!

    David Axelrod!

    January 19, 2011 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  2. PR

    Joe Klein

    January 19, 2011 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
  3. Chris

    My guess is Robert Gibbs. The timing of his departure from the Administration is just too coincidental.

    January 19, 2011 07:25 pm at 7:25 pm |
  4. Bob

    David Gergen. 😛

    January 19, 2011 08:14 pm at 8:14 pm |
  5. Survey says......

    "Whoever wrote the book is well-versed in the tactical minutia of presidential campaigns and the behind-the-scenes maneuvering of the press corps that covers them...."

    I think we can conclude with all certainty that it's not Sour Palin!!!

    January 19, 2011 09:32 pm at 9:32 pm |
  6. GOP = Greed Over People

    David Plouffe

    January 19, 2011 09:32 pm at 9:32 pm |
  7. Helen

    Maybe it is plouffe.

    January 19, 2011 09:41 pm at 9:41 pm |
  8. to-tell-the-truth

    I think the author is CNN white house correspondent Mark Henry

    January 19, 2011 10:12 pm at 10:12 pm |
  9. Andrew

    It's Kal Penn! I'm gonna win!

    January 19, 2011 10:18 pm at 10:18 pm |
  10. sanjay

    O author –
    Joe Klein (again !!)
    Margaret Carlson
    Bob Bechtel

    January 19, 2011 10:21 pm at 10:21 pm |
  11. Ryan Timpe

    Peter Orzsag

    January 19, 2011 11:16 pm at 11:16 pm |
  12. J.V.Hodgson

    I do not even want to play the game!! Why, if the author wishes to remain annonymous I hope he has a contract that earns him $ billions if his name is revealed by anyone who actually knows. You see to me freedom of speech if true and honest and decent or even if represented as half fiction and half truth, then an author has the right to remain a Psuedonym as he/she apparently wishes.
    So please give the author the very freedom you so often vigorously defend . Remember deep throat and how those Journalists defended his identity!? Get some integrity and stop trying rather encouraging to find a whistle blower.

    January 20, 2011 12:39 am at 12:39 am |
  13. CAMI

    I'm submitting the first name that popped into my head: Robert Gibbs

    January 20, 2011 02:33 am at 2:33 am |
  14. Henry Miller, Libertarian

    Rahm Emanuel is the author, based solely on the names "Avi Samuelson" and "Maddy Cohan," both of which sound kinda Jewish, as is Emanuel.

    January 20, 2011 02:54 am at 2:54 am |