Every single Republican who threw their hat into the 2012 Presidential election season has been mocked mercilessly by the press and the general public. Many of them *cough Pawlenty cough* have looked like little more than a deer in headlights or like a raving lunatic (read: Herman Cain), with ideas either too bland to capture anyone’s imagination, or with statements so fringe nobody could take them seriously. The litany of horrible one-liners that came out of the nonstop GOP debate schedule made all of these contenders look completely unqualified or incapable of running the White House office supply order, much less the country. And poll after poll showed President Obama significantly ahead of not just the field of self-named candidates, but ahead of a generic Republican opponent.
Many of us have asked, what is going on here? Surely there are informed, reasonable Republicans with solid experience who could be in this campaign–not that anyone comes to mind in the ten seconds I’m willing to think about it. But out of 313 million Americans, isn’t there someone with foreign policy experience, a non-reductive reading of the Constitution, and a willingness to work in a bipartisan way in Washington, DC?
Some Democratic and left-leaning cynics have said that there are reasons to run for the highest office the country has to offer, other than winning the mantle. Like getting a chance in the spotlight, and the money that flows to people seeking the presidency.
I’m not certain about these individuals’ motives, but one thing is common among the GOP field this year: many of them have books or book deals. Here’s a non-exhaustive list.
Michelle Bachmann–Title: Core of Conviction, Sentinel HC Publisher. Sales of Bachmann’s book have been abysmal for all of the publicity she received. It’s almost like readers don’t care what she has to say about herself.
Newt Gingrich–A Nation Like No Other: Why American Exceptionalism Matters, Regnery Publishing. Gingrich also has a new co-authored history book for sale, and his wife is peddling her own tome at the moment. There have been days on the campaign trail when Newt has done more book appearances than campaign stops. I’m sure he has his priorities in line.
Herman Cain–This Is Herman Cain, My Journey to the White House, Threshold Editions. It takes some chutzpah to title a book like this, in such a flirting with hubris way. I wonder if there will be a sequel entitled, Who Needs the White House Anyway?
Mitt Romney–No Apology: The Case for American Greatness, St. Martin’s Press. Big banner publishing house, big sales. And still the conservative edge of the good old party worries about electing this guy. Tangled webs, people.
Ron Paul–Liberty Defined: 50 Issues that Affect Our Freedom, Grand Central Publishing. Paul, like Gingrich, has several books in print, this one being the latest. And while Paul started out his run as a Republican candidate, people don’t doubt that he could wind up an independent candidate in the general election.
Rick Perry–Fed Up!: Our Fight to Save America from Washington, Little, Brown Company. Granted, this title was released in 2010, well before Perry announced he was running for President. But let’s not pretend his campaign hasn’t helped sales of this or of his other title, On My Honor: Why the American Values of the Boy Scouts Are Worth Fighting for, co-authored with Ross Perot.
I’m not saying that book sales are the only reasons why these folks jumped into the fray, but sales from their books aren’t considered campaign contributions, either. Most of these folks wouldn’t hold much interest for a publisher but for the fact that they’re candidates.
The general campaign season is right around the corner and many of these titles will lose their luster, destined for the same bargain bins that once held John Kerry’s A Call to Service and John McCain’s Why Courage Matters. And then maybe we can get back to reading about vampires and broomsticks. And wondering what the election of 2016 will hold for all of us.