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.

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Honoring George

George Washington painted by Charles Wilson Peale in 1772
George Washington painted by Charles Wilson Peale in 1772

Today is President’s Day which is kind of a conglomeration of  Washington’s and Lincoln’s birthday, both of which occur relatively close to each other during the second month of the year. This holiday always brings opportunity for presidential antidotes. This year is no exception and thanks to a recent gaffe committed by one of the rising “Tea Party” political stars, slavery is in the news today, especially in the way it relates to the founding fathers.

Many of the Founding Fathers owned slaves including George Washington, who owned slaves, but also willed that they be given their freedom after both he and his wife had passed away. In fact this was a mildly popular sentiment that was common at the end of the Revolutionary War. Unfortunately, the beginning of the 19th century saw an increase in the slave traffic from Africa. This created much strife in the USA, a fact of life, which did not get resolved into the Civil War.

In years gone by, I use to enjoy railing against our first president, not so much because he owned slaves, but because the site of our nation’s capitol was named for the first general of the War for Independence and might have possibly been built on land that he once owned.

However, a quick bit of research, proved that this was not quite the case.  Though close to the present day District of Columbia, Mt. Vernon never included the land along the Potomac that is now the nation’s seat. Nonetheless, Washington did choose the sight for the new capitol, based on excursions he had once made along the Potomac in the years prior to the war. And the site was chosen because our first president considered to be one of the most beautiful locales in the original thirteen.

From this brief bit of research came another fascinating tidbit about Washington’s life. And that was his ideas on religious tolerance and separation of  church and state, a new concept that ranked very high in George’s attitude. Thanks to modern-day historians we know that Washington attended many different services, including Episcopalian, Quaker and Roman Catholic. When George was at home he did not attend church every Sunday, but often spent the Lord’s day writing letters, conducting business or fox hunting. When he did attend church at home he went to the local Anglican church, where he used to sit with the other Virginia gentry as was the custom of the day. Though once the war ended, George would always sit with the commoners and never did return to his respected place among the privileged.

And finally, it is fairly common knowledge that our first president definitely enjoyed his spirits.  Mount Vernon annually produced a large amount of whiskey, which was sold and traded throughout the region. In fact so much was produced that today the old plantation site is now part of the American Whiskey Trail.

Life of George Washington - The Farmer, lithograph by  Junius Brutus Stearns, 1853
Life of George Washington - The Farmer, lithograph by Junius Brutus Stearns, 1853

A Night In Old New Orleans
A Night In Old New Orleans