POST #400……….Happy Birthday America

American flags in Wells Beach, Maine....photo by author
American flags in Wells Beach, Maine….photo by author

 

from Democracy Is Coming To The USA    by Leonard Cohen

The US Needs Better Democracy

If there is one thing that seems apparent (at least to me) from this years presidential election is that America can do better with selecting its presidential candidates. This year with the looming nominations (things could still change) of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, it appears to me we are choosing two candidates that have mastered the fine art of using political position to obtain personal wealth.

True, we have had wealthy candidates and presidents in the past (JFK was actually one of the wealthiest), but they always seem to put some sort of national agenda ahead of their own personal gain. So far, this year seems to be different. On one hand you have a man, who brags about his wealth and uses this situation as a qualification for the highest political office in the land. On the other hand, you have a former Senator and Secretary of State, whose paid speeches would violate many ethics rules if she was still in the Senate or State Department.

So considering all that’s gone down so far, I’m hoping that both major parties circumvent what’s gone down in the primary process and go back to the drawing board in coming up with a presidential candidate…………… It’s not too late, really.

 

The old and the new in our first national capitol, Philadelphia
The old and the new in our first national capitol, Philadelphia

Can Hardcover Book Sales Successfully Predict Who the Next President Will Be?

The White House as seen from the extensive front lawn, from wikipedia, photo by Daniel Schwen
Who will the next resident be?   The White House as seen from the extensive front lawn, from wikipedia, photo by Daniel Schwen

Presidents As Authors

Just the nature of the job demands that the President of the United States be very adept with the English language. Keeping this in mind, it is no big surprise that the highest office in the land is filled with many authors. In fact, one of the twentieth centuries most successful author-presidents now resides at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. In 1995 Barrack Obama released Dreams From My Father, a personal memoir of the President’s youth. This memoir helped the Illinois Democrat launch his political career, as he was elected to the Illinois State Senate in 1996.

Then in 2003, Obama wrote another book, titled The Audacity of Hope. This non-fiction piece was very successful (it has sold over 4 million copies to date), as was Barrack’s Obama campaign for the US Senate. So successful in fact, that in 2008, Obama was elected president of the United States. In 2012, Barrack won re-election.

Presidents As Authors

The tradition of presidents as authors goes all the way back to George Washington, who wrote a memoir about his adventures in the western wilderness, long before the United States became a reality and General Washington was elected to be the first president.  Since then many presidents have followed suit with books written both before and after serving in the White House. Since WWII the frequency of presidential authorship seems to have increased dramatically. Some of the classic examples of books written by future presidents include Six Crises by Richard Nixon (1962), Crusade In Europe by Dwight D. Eisenhower(1948), Profiles In Courage by John Kennedy (1955) and the already-mentioned Dreams From My Fathers by Barrack Obama. Otherwise most post WWII presidential literary efforts seem to be either post-presidential or written solely as pre-campaign literature.

Looking Ahead To 2016

Presently there are many aspiring presidential candidates for 2016,  a situation made more interesting by the fact that our present Commander-in-Chief will be ineligible to seek another term. Though these candidates come from many different political stripes, their one common denominator seems to be that they all have recently written a full-length book detailing their political philosophy and visions for a future America. On the Democratic side, the main contenders appear to be Hillary Clinton, author of Hard Choices(2014), Joe Biden, who has written Promises To Keep (2007),  and Elizabeth Warren, who recently pened A Fighting Chance (2014). Hillary Clinton leads the pack in book sales by a long shot with her recent release about her tenure as Secretary of State, but it remains to be seen if she will even run, much less take the nomination.

Although book sales of potential Republican candidates lag behind their Democratic counterparts, there is no shortage of literary contenders to be the next resident at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. On this side of the aisle, Rand Paul is in the lead with Taking a Stand (2014). Also of note are Scott Brown’s Against All Odds, Rick Perry’s Fed Up, Marco Rubio’s A Political Son and  Scott Walker’s Unintimidated.  Followers of the political spectrum should also be aware of  Ted Cruz’s recent 1.5 million advance for a political memoir to be released before the 2016 election and Paul Ryan, who has also received a 2013 book deal that is due out sometime this year.

The Prediction

So there you go; Hillary Clinton will defeat Paul Rand to win the 2016 presidential race, unless of course Paul Ryan or Ted Cruz set the literary world ablaze with their upcoming book releases.

A Literary President

Obama and George W. Bush meet in Oval Office, White House photo by Eric Draper
Obama and George W. Bush meet in Oval Office, White House photo by Eric Draper

Last night Barack Obama gave his State of the Union (SOTU) speech to a packed house and a national TV audience. I did not watch much of it ( not much interest in watching a large crowd stand up every two minutes and applaud, then sit down), but I did happen to listen to the speech, while was working on my computer. The speech conveyed lots of important ideas and goals, plus it was delivered in fine style by a president with good oratory skills.

However, it is Barack Obamas prowess  as a man of words that I would like to focus upon. Though lots of presidents have been able to write well and find success as an author,  Obama stands out in the way by which his literary skills have been so instrumental as a springboard to his political career. In 1995 Barrack Obama released his memoir, entitled “Dreams From My Father” and then a year later he published, “Audacity of Hope”. Although not a professional writer by trade, Obama’s memoir was well received by the American public, even though he was an unknown at the time.

It is from this background that the president speaks, as he did last night. And as was obvious last night, when he does speak, he does so in a very articulate manner.