- “You’re not a real candidate, Pinocchio, if you haven’t written your own book,” said Mark Halperin, the political director of ABC News. “If you know everybody else is doing a book, you’ve got to do a book.”
- “The book publishing business has become the new exploratory committee,” said Chuck Todd, editor of the daily political tip sheet Hotline. “For [Barack] Obama, it was a way of testing the waters. That’s when you find out: Are you interesting enough to get enough interviews? Can you get people to show up for a signing?”
- “If a book is a narrative about who you are or something you believe in, it has to feel authentic,” said Peter Osnos, the founder and editor at large of PublicAffairs, who has published books by Mr. Obama, former President Bill Clinton and General [Wesley] Clark. “It has to feel that you’re really writing about yourself. It has to feel honest, to the extent that any public figure is honest.”
- Political insiders caution against reading too much into the tea leaves. While Mr. Clinton and Mr. Gore’s 1992 election-year manifesto, Putting People First, previewed a victory, John Kerry and Mr. Edwards’s 2004 book, Our Plan for America, modeled on the Clinton-Gore book, fizzled with the public. And though Mr. McCain’s 1999 book, Faith of My Fathers, was a critical success and a best seller, he failed to win the nomination in 2000. A Charge to Keep, by George W. Bush, was dismissed by critics as an expanded stump speech mostly written by Karen Hughes, his omnipresent communications adviser. The lesson? “Candidates can win,” said Mr. Halperin of ABC News, “even if their books don’t sell well.”
Thursday, February 22, 2007
On the stump, in the bookstore
The NYT has a piece this morning on books by political candidates. In the best tradition of political reporting, let me serve up a few soundbytes without any real context.