American Life in ColumnsMichael A. Smerconish
Foreword by David Axelrod
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