Have you ever found yourself annoyed by the White House memoirs of former Presidential aids who swore that everything would have been just fine if people would have only listened to them? If so, you’ll enjoy Buckley’s novel The White House Mess, a satirical tell-all written by the fictional, fumbling Herbert Wadlough.
Wadlough is a boring square with a rather effeminate nature about him, who was brought up in English boarding schools and destined to have a love affair with accounting. He’s not a drinking man and you can tell he has reached his limit when he orders tea from his assistant instead of his regular hot water. After getting on President Tucker’s nerves for his constant foibles, he is moved to the East Wing of the White House to help the First Lady, a former actress itching to make a comeback to the silver screen despite disapproval from her husband. After a scandal in the press involving one of her homosexual friends and a misunderstanding, Wadlaugh is brought to further embarrassment, is beaten up by the First Lady, and fired. After thinking about moving with his wife his job is saved just in the nick of time. During all of this, the President is dealing with a marital crisis, trouble with Castro, and disloyal aids who are courting their own agendas. While Wadlaugh is inept, he has good intentions and is loyal through and through.
The reason that this book is so successful in accomplishing its aim is probably that Buckley himself was a White House speech writer and has relevant insight and experience with the goings on of the West Wing and its messy personal politics. Now, he’s "the poor man’s Jonathan Swift."
If Buckley is starting to sound familiar to you, it’s probably because he is more famous for the book Thank You For Smoking, made into the popular film with that tall glass of water Aaron Eckhart. His book Little Green Men is also being adapted into a movie and will come out sometime this year.