Bob Shrum's career has spanned every presidential race since 1960. He has an undying commitment to the concerns of the common man and a passion for fairness and inclusion – even when that stance is unpopular to some segments of the public and sometimes even to the candidates themselves. He engenders strong feelings among fans and foes alike, but few of us are fortunate enough to have as loyal a friend or as aggressive an ally as Bob Shrum.
Bob's new book, No Excuses: Concessions of a Serial Campaigner, is dedicated to his wife, Marylouise – “Oatsie” – whom Bob, a child of southern California, once described in that most 'Disney-esque' way: “Being married to Oatsie is an E-Ticket ride!”
Bob wrote the book longhand, because, as he says on page 401, 'typing, like driving, is a skill I've never mastered', but, Bob, you've certainly mastered the skills that count.
Shrum would put it that he grew up $10 million south of here in Culver City … his Dad worked in aerospace … in high school Bob was a champion debater and that propelled him to a scholarship at Georgetown, and then a law degree from Harvard.
He's worked for scores of Democrats – from being an intern during President Kennedy's 1960 race all the way to John Kerry in 2004 – thirty winning Senate campaigns, twenty for Congress, and eleven for governor. He worked for one Republican – Mayor John Lindsay of New York.
In the bitter 1980 primary battle between President Jimmy Carter and Sen. Ted Kennedy, including gay rights in the party platform was on the table. Carter wanted none of it … Kennedy (with Shrum's urging) demanded it. It would be one of the first, but certainly not one of the last, times that Shrum found himself pushing for minority social justice.
It was during the 1980 race that Shrum met Oatsie here in Los Angeles. Three years later, he proposed at Spago … Warren Beatty went to the wedding – as did June, Oatsie's favorite cashier at the Beachwood Market.
Bob's written everything from key parts of the State of the Union address to scripts for the Kennedy Center Honors. Bob is a presently a Senior Fellow at NYU, and he and Oatsie live at “Shrum-a-lot” on Cape Cod, as well as at a home here in Los Angeles.
I spoke with my mother earlier today. Now my mother is a little hard of hearing sometimes and doesn't always get her facts straight. When I mentioned we were hosting a book party this evening for Bob Shrum, she exclaimed that all she'd been hearing about was the 'Shrum purse'; “What's so important about Shrum's purse, and what does he keep in it?”, she asked me. I said; “Mother, it's not Shrum's purse; you're referring to the phrase 'Shrum curse'. Oh, she said, now I understand: a man his age must need his own nurse.
As you can see for yourselves, Bob is far from needing his own nurse. The book we're celebrating this evening has been widely praised and, as Janet Maslin said “is catnip for the politically inclined”. No Excuses: Concessions of a Serial Campaigner shines a bright light on politics in America. We can be very grateful that Bob has enhanced the transparency of the political process with a candid, frank, and lucidly written book that is a testament to a remarkable career.
Bob has bent history in the direction of his beliefs, and the world is a much better place for it.
Please join me in welcoming the author of No Excuses: Concessions of a Serial Campaigner, Bob Shrum.