Opinion

A Great Read: CNN’s Bob Beckel’s New Book, I Should Be Dead

This past week, CNN hired Bob Beckel, former co-host of Fox News’s “The Five,” as a political commentator to offer a “blue-collar liberal” perspective. On Nov. 3, Beckel’s new memoir I Should Be Dead: My Life Surviving Politics, TV, and Addiction goes on sale.

In June 2015, after Beckel had finished his third stint in rehab, Fox News fired him. Beckel had just finished rehab at the Betty Ford Pain Management Center because of addiction issues surrounding his use of painkillers after back surgery. The first two times were for alcohol.

In I Should Be Dead, Beckel tells of attempting to dodge the Vietnam draft by entering the Peace Corps. While in the Philippines, he not only drank and slept around with as many women as but he also got involved in local politics, a violation of Peace Corps rules. Once when he was at a political rally, a grenade was thrown at him and landed at his feet but didn’t blow up.

After that, Beckel moved to Washington, D.C., where he got involved with national politics — and frequented many bordellos. When he ran congressional campaigns, Beckel says, he did anything and everything to get his candidates elected.

Later, working under Jimmy Carter as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Congressional Relations, he writes about how he skirted and even broke many laws in order to get the Panama Canal Treaty ratified.

Beckel refers to himself a “survivor.” Both of his parents were alcoholics, and his father was abusive to his mother and to him. Beckel also fell victim to alcohol and more. He wrote that when he first did cocaine, it was in the White House.

Later, as campaign manager for Walter Mondale’s 1984 race again Ronald Reagan, the heavily drinking Beckel led Mondale to win only one state in the general election.

When his first child was born, Beckel remembers, and while his now ex-wife was in the hospital, he slept with a prostitute.

Among other “highlights” of Beckel’s life was in the early 2000s, when a prostitution ring attempted to extort $50,000 from him. Beckel went to the police and was listed as “Victim X” on all the court documents. Then, in the attempt to arrest the perpetrators, an Alexandria, Va., police officer leaked that Beckel was involved with a prostitute. Beckel writes that even though he never slept with that specific prostitute, the event continues to harm his reputation.

Another interesting asides that when he was running Alan Blinken’s 2002 campaign to unseat Idaho Senator Larry Craig, through opposition research, he found out Craig was gay, but he had no way to substantiate it. In 2007, Craig was arrested for lewd conduct when he attempted to solicit sex from an undercover male police officer.

Last, Beckel talks about how he became a born-again Christian after his friend and conservative writer Cal Thomas invited him to attend church with him. And Beckel has been sober from alcohol for well over a decade now.

“I Should Be Dead” is not for the faint of heart, the moralizer, or the person who doesn’t want to know anything about the inner workings of the political world. Beckel shines a light on the dark side of politics and human nature, but reveals that there is still hope, and that no one is too far gone.

The book is a great read, perhaps as an engaging psychological study for some, and a must read for fans of “The Five” who would want to get inside the mind of the lone liberal on the show.

Buy I Should Be Dead: My Life Surviving Politics, TV, and Addiction on Amazon.

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