Guys. 2016 buddies. Y’all need to slow down.
In the last few days, several GOP candidates have released new books. Again. None of these are first-time authors, so these are their second books in under five years. I’ve already mentioned how Ben Carson has left the campaign trail temporarily to go on a book tour for his new offering, A More Perfect Union. Unsurprisingly, though, book tour stops tend to be clustered in important primary states.
Now we have Donald Trump offering us his second campaign book, Crippled America. Time to Get Tough, his previous offering, was released for a 2012 presidential run that never quite materialized, so this one is specifically for this run.
And not only do we have Donald Trump, but his (arch?)nemesis, Jeb Bush! Bush is releasing a 730-page volume of emails titled Reply All from his publicly distributed email address, firstname.lastname@example.org, spanning his time as governor. For the highlights, check out Politico’s list of the 11 best exchanges, although I would be curious to see the actual substance.
Additionally, Bobby Jindal’s book also dropped October 20th, but I haven’t heard much about him or his book.
Curiouser and curiouser. Jindal’s planned release now, along with these three other releases and the Bush campaign’s comment that this book has been long-planned (and well might it, for a 730-page book) is enough of a trend to make me think that this might be an agreed-upon piece of campaign strategy. I see some benefits: it’s something new for the political media to talk about, and can highlight a different side of a candidate, like Bush highlighting how in-touch he has been with his constituents.
It’s been my working hypothesis so far that memoirs have been moving from one of many potential options for a candidate’s early-run surfacing behavior to a necessary box-ticking exercise to be noticed and taken seriously. Perhaps this is related to the phenomenon I noted yesterday with candidates selling themselves to donors as opposed to voters–some donors might formally or informally require a candidate to present their authority and legitimacy through a book. This latest round of releases might confirm that hypothesis to an extent: it suggests that only the candidates with war chests to finance the ghostwriting or editing, publication, and marketing processes can get away with not only an initial surfacing book but also a second one in the second heat of the race. A 2012 WSJ story about ghostwriting indicates that good ghostwriters can charge up to six figures, so I think this might be reasonable. That Jindal waited to publish his first book in this second round (assuming that he only published one because of limited resources) might show how seriously candidates take this second surfacing.
More relevantly for this project–dang, I was just starting to feel like I was making a dent in this lot. I will indeed be following the rules that I laid out when I started. Since the rule is that I read the most recently-published book, I’ll now be reading Crippled America instead of Time to Get Tough, and I will indeed be reading A More Perfect Union and Reply All–just after I finish with the other candidates.
I’m writing up some last thoughts on Rand Paul, and then on to Mike Huckabee and Ted Cruz. Stay tuned.