In his new book, columnist, CNN host and registered Independent Michael Smerconish reflects on 100 of his most provocative columns.
Can you imagine political provocateur Michael Smerconish dropping by your next book club and stirring up some trouble? To promote his latest book, Clowns to the Left, Jokers to the Right: American Life in Columns ($30, Temple University Press), the Villanovabased CNN and Sirius XM host is offering up this experience to the highest bidder on charitybuzz.com (proceeds go to Philadelphia’s Children’s Crisis Treatment Center, where his wife, Lavinia, is a board member.) Just make sure to have some bourbon in the liquor cabinet for his drink of choice—a Manhattan—and be prepared to talk about anything from the merits of colored Christmas tree lights, to free speech for Holocaust deniers, to what kids can learn from having a yard sale or why he dumped his Republican party affiliation. The conversation may get heated, but it won’t be boring. This sounds a lot like the tenor of the Philadelphia Daily News and the Inquirer columns he’s penned for the last 15 years. The Doylestown native writes on a breadth of issues and wealth of adventures, from meeting Ronald Reagan in 1980 at the Italian Market to eulogizing his pet dog, Winston (which included a mea culpa for backing over a different family dog) to dining with Fidel Castro to enduring an awkward Amtrak ride with David Duke, a former grand wizard of the KKK. The anthology of his 100 most buzzworthy columns (with updates “for those I wish I could take a mulligan, and for those I wanted to expand”) blends the mundane with more profound topics of justice and politics. “Our opinions change over time,” says Smerconish. “The things I got right, I look back and I’m proud I nailed it. The other things… I wish I had the chance to write them over again. It’s been an eye-opener.”