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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Saturday, June 22, 2024

Political literature a campaigning trend

The anticipation and fanfare surrounding the next presidential campaign has begun to gather steam, especially since political superstars like Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton have announced their intentions to jostle for a place on the next presidential ticket.  


For student council, all a political hopeful had to do was gather a few signatures from the cafeteria, and make a speech that went something along the lines of, ""I promise I will drag my over-caffeinated self to the 7 a.m. meetings, eat all the doughnuts and make sure there is no shortage of stars and blue streamers at Homecoming like the fall crisis of '02.""  


Now the latest trends in presidential political strategy are calling for candidates to pull stints as authors before embarking down the campaign trail. Books are the most popular thing on the political playground, and if you don't have one, expect to be the last one picked for kickball or to get stale corndogs tossed at you.  


The modern subgenre, dubbed ""candidate lit,"" is often a memoir of sorts, a sweeping political manifesto or a detailed take on a particular current American issue (i.e.: Al Gore's best seller, ""An Inconvenient Truth""). 


Candidate lit can trace its roots back to the 1950s, when U.S. Sen.John F. Kennedy, wrote a book that became his introduction into the public eye. The book, entitled ""Profiles in Courage,"" describes eight U.S. senators who risked their reputations to carry out acts of integrity in the governmental arena.  


Kennedy won a coveted Pulitzer Prize in 1957 for his writing, though speculation has suggested that Kennedy's ""research assistant"" may have done a great deal more writing than latte fetching and grammar checking. 


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No politician has won an award to rival Kennedy's, though several memoirs have sold well, depending on how much celebrity the political figure already possessed or how much the media find to stew and jump around excitedly about. 


The senators, representatives and such, probably don't mind not winning esteemed literary prizes. With the help of ghostwriters and the aforementioned ""research assistant,"" a few hundred pages or even multiple books can suddenly become a more effective tool in political campaigns than all the college interns desperately manning the phones put together. 


The books can be extremely lucrative and can help fund the expense of all those buttons and pricey ads gently pointing out an opponent's shortcomings. 


Also, within the confessional pages of a memoir, a political candidate reaps the sentimental opportunity to gather public empathy. Empathy is particularly important to a candidate looking to scrub away any unseemly political plaque he/she may have gathered. 


In Obama's 1995 memoir, ""Dreams of My Father,"" he openly and very eloquently, addresses his troubled childhood, which included drug and alcohol abuse. Judging by Obama's growing popularity—honesty may be the new ticket to forgiveness for the American public.  


Perhaps we, the general public, can use this idea. Wouldn't it be nice if we could use publication as a kind of moral eraser? Next time your dubious past comes up at an interview for a job, graduate school, etc., just tell them you ""address that in your book.""

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