The Washington Post

Former “press tart” bares all in tawdry memoir

Baron, a former press advisor for well-known Republicans such as Ralph Reed, Darrell Issa and Christine Whitman — a job that also went by the title of “press tart” — once dreamed of being a White House press secretary for a Republican administration.

If she still harbors that aspiration after publishing her tawdry memoir, “Life of the Party,” she can dream on.

“Life of the Party,” to be published by Citadel Press in July, panders to lurid curiosity. It is filled with material sure to interest columnists who trade in the gossip of this town’s bold-faced names, as well all those politically ambitious (and anonymous) underlings who roam the halls of government. Think Chelsea Handler, but aimed at 20somethings with “staff assistant” in their title.

Baron only makes it to page five before she’s describing a sexual encounter with Ari Fleischer, the former press secretary for George W. Bush, in a Greenville, S.C., hotel room.

She was 26 years old and working for Christian Coalition director Ralph Reed while he campaigned for Bush in the 2000 Republican presidential primaries. What motivated her to go into Fleischer’s hotel room that day?

“To be able to say, ‘I’m with the such-and-such campaign,’ or I work for ‘Senator So-and-So’ is to us political junkies what ‘I’m with the band’ is to Pamela Des Barres. My remarkable encounter with Ari in that unremarkable hotel room perfectly summed up my groupie-like relationship to politics at that time — I wanted it, I worshipped it, and I went for it.”

The majority of the book is focused on her time with Reed, the controversial conservative activist whose company lobbied for Jack Abramoff — and on the “double life” she had to lead. By day she was working for a staunch social conservative; by night she was a hard-partying heathen focused on booze and boys.

Baron says mostly nice things about Reed. But now off their payroll, Baron has no interest in making some of her other ex-bosses look good.

Of Whitman, the former governor of New Jersey and chief of the EPA, Baron writes: “It was hard working for someone who treated her campaign staff like dirty laundry, with her nose pinched and her head held high up in the sky.”

She then goes on to call Whitman names that violate this website’s standards of decency.


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