Clowns to the Left of Me, Jokers to the Right

American Life in Columns

Michael A. Smerconish, foreword by David Axelrod
Book Cover

PB: $19.95
EAN: 978-1-4399-1636-0
Publication: Mar 20

HC: $30.00
EAN: 978-1-4399-1635-3
Publication: Jun 18

Ebook: $30.00
EAN: 978-1-4399-1637-7
Publication: Mar 20

384 pages
6 x 9
31 halftones

The opinions—and evolution—of Michael Smerconish, the provocative radio/TV host and political pundit

Read the Introduction (pdf).


Opinionated talk show host and columnist Michael Smerconish has been chronicling local, state, and national events for the Philadelphia Daily News and the Philadelphia Inquirer for more than 15 years. He has sounded off on topics as diverse as the hunt for Osama bin Laden and what the color of your Christmas lights says about you. In this collection of 100 of his most memorable columns, Smerconish reflects on American political life with his characteristic feistiness. A new Afterword for each column provides updates on both facts and feelings, indicating how the author has evolved over the years, moving from a reliable Republican voter to a political Independent.

Clowns to the Left of Me, Jokers to the Right covers the post-9/11 years, Barack Obama’s ascension, and the rise of Donald Trump. Smerconish describes meeting Ronald Reagan, having dinner with Fidel Castro, barbequing with the band YES in his backyard, spending the same night with Pete Rose and Ted Nugent, drinking champagne from the Stanley Cup, and conducting Bill Cosby’s only pretrial interview. He also writes about local Philadelphia culture, from Sid Mark to the Rizzo statue.

Smerconish’s outlook as expressed in these impassioned opinion pieces goes beyond “liberal” or “conservative.” His thought process continues to evolve and change, and as it does, he aims to provoke readers to do the same.

All author proceeds benefit the Children’s Crisis Treatment Center


"Michael Smerconish is the rare political observer who can get pumped up over important, weighty subjects like gerrymandering and closed primaries. He’s a post-partisan problem solver who is trying to restore sanity to the political process. If only more of the country could be as passionate as Smerconish about the need for change, we could end partisan gridlock and get our politicians working for the people again. I have always believed in Dwight D. Eisenhower’s wisdom that the center of the road is the only usable space and the extreme left and right are the gutters, and Clowns to the Left of Me, Jokers to the Right says this perfectly. It’s an entertaining collection of 100 of his engaging newspaper columns written in a post-9/11 world, each followed by a new Afterword. Fire up a stogie and enjoy this book, knowing that as you’re getting wiser, your support will help benefit the Children’s Crisis Treatment Center.”
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger

"Michael Smerconish's collection is compelling and entertaining—not as a filtering of daily news through a predictable ideological lens, but as a group of insightful entries into conversations about current events and issues.... Smerconish's subjects—sometimes whimsical, most at least touching on the political—will be appreciated by Americans on the right, left, and center."

"This collection will be of interest to (Smerconish's) fans from satellite radio and cable TV and those who eagerly read the columns contemporaneously as he gave attention to a wide range of noteworthy topics with his signature warmth and direct, personal tone."

"Clowns to the Left of Me, Jokers to the Right... brings together a representative selection from the 1,047 columns (Smerconish) has written over the past 17 years that cover politics, profiles, life, and miscellanea. A good number of these columns have stood the test of time.... They make for enjoyable reading and remind us that journalism properly practiced requires a good deal of nerve, honesty, and insight, along with openness to dialogue and the determination not to live in a bubble.... To his credit, he has approached complex cases with a sense of humor and detachment that has prevented him from being self-righteous or embracing false certainties.... By refusing to serve a doctrinaire, ideologically driven agenda, Smerconish’s columns and broadcasts are unlikely to be loved by purists on either side of the aisle."
The Daily Beast

Table of Contents

Foreword, by David Axelrod

America Offers Opportunity to Those Who Work

High Fidel-ity: Daily News Columnist Gets Up Close and Personal with Castro
A Politically Incorrect Extravaganza
Kobe? He’s Not One of Us
Gay Numbers and 9/11
The Sins of the Father . . . and Mother
That Apology?—It’s Bunk
Rebuild ’Em!
Want Ratings? Bring Back the Beauty
Conspiracy: The Oklahoma City–September 11 Connection
Suspensions: A Wake-up Call for Parents
C’mon, Mr. President, Show Us the Evidence
Two Good Reasons to Oppose Tort Reform
I’ll Miss the Merry Prankster
Summer and Smoke: My Gay Epiphany
Robbing Dr. Barnes’s Grave
Maureen Faulkner, Still on the Job
One Voice for Katz
Dreaming of a Non-white Christmas
Tough Questions from Tough Guy on 9/11 Commission
How to Get Quasimodo a Date
A Brush with Greatness, Thanks to a Little Truancy and Some Connections
Jim Beasley, the People’s Lawyer
Dreaming of a White (House) Christmas
Cos Case: It’s Kobe All over Again
Air-Travel Screening Stupidity—Times 4
Postcard from Gladwyne
Good with a Pen, as well as a Football
Small Gesture for a Real American Hero
Duke Case: Revenge of the Nerds
Setting the Record Straight
A Dog Named Winston
Roger Waters: The Pinko in Floyd
The Garden of Eternal Vigilance
Manhunt for Osama Dropping on U.S. Agenda?
Should Free Speech Allow Holocaust Denial

Guilty as Charged: I Don’t Support Imus’s Firing
The War Comes Home
Unexpected Memorial Day Lesson from Decorated Marine
The World according to Bruno
An Immigrant’s Dream Still Means Something
Proof a Son’s Head Is Far from Dismal Adult Events
A Navy SEAL’s Gut-Wrenching Tale of Survival
“Anti-Semitic” Label Curbs Talk about Israel
The Face of September 11, 2001
How Rush Became the King of Talk
Why Rudy Wasn’t in Iowa on Tuesday
Specter Practices—and Endorses—Civility
Mr. Chrome Dome Gets Fuzzy
Obama Sees Route to Righteousness
How I Got the Bird
Russert-Brand Discourse vs. Cable Carnival Shoutfest
Requiem for an Era
McCain Fails the Big Five Tests
Their Stanley Cup Runneth Over
My Dinner with Pervez
Jack Kemp’s Winning Game Plan
Checking in with Smokin’ Joe to Thank Him for His Dignity
Sorry, but for Me, the Party Is Over
Yard Sale 101
The Power of Pin Money
Farewell, My DN Friends

Investment Giant on Living Well—and Madoff
A Lesson in Gumption, and Its Rewards
Can You Imagine How Christie’s Son Feels?
“Mormon Issue” Still Handicaps Romney
9/11 Generation Is Highlight of Speeches
It’s Time to Break the Mold on Talk Radio
Lessons from the Cheap Seats
Bursting a Class Bubble
A Shattered Spirit
Warren’s Shaky History
Zeppelin Communication Breakdown
The Teacher Who Opened a Mind
Unpaid but Richly Rewarding
Pennsbury Grad Makes a Splash in D.C.
Nightmare on Health Site
Secret Facet of Westboro Case
SATs Don’t Always Mark a Successful Path
Worthy Subject of Protest May Target Workers
Mystery Tip that Broke Sandusky Case
Recalling Gary Hart, Debating News Policy
Overreaction in C.B. West Hazing Case
Cat Stevens’s Politics
Go Old School on Drinking?
My Dinner with Roger Stone
Family Farmer Whose Labors Never End
A Subject’s Portrait of the Artist
Take Note, Candidates, of Reagan’s Words
In Philly, Sinatra and Sid Mark Play On
Trump’s Candidacy Is Right out of Seinfeld
A Must in Life: Try, Try Again
My Heimlich Maneuvering
The Right Spot for the Rizzo Statue? Right Where It Is
Civility Wins if “Comments” Unplugged
Yeah, Yeah, Yeah: Larry Kane, Fab Historian
Births to Illnesses, Our Life with Grace
Trump Not My Fan, but Quite a Loyal Follower
A Changing of the Guard in Gladwyne

In 2017, Getting to Know the Other Half


About the Author(s)

Michael A. Smerconish is a SiriusXM radio host, CNN television host, and Sunday Philadelphia Inquirer newspaper columnist. A Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Lehigh University and the University of Pennsylvania Law School, he is of counsel to the law firm of Kline & Specter. He resides in the Philadelphia suburbs, where he and his wife have raised four children.