Thursday, April 1, 2004
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What are the popular foreign policy books?
They've just come out with March's bestseller list:
If you look at the whole list, there are only three books that could be thought of as sympathetic to Bush's foreign policy -- Frum and Perle's An End to Evil, Richard Miniter's Losing Bin Laden, and Gaddis' Surprise, Security, and the American Experience
Question to readers -- does this mean:
a) A lot of Americans are interested in books that are critical of Bush's foreign policy (which implies a lot of Americans are unimpressed with it)?
b) The kind of people who buy foreign policy books in the first place are predisposed to dislike Bush's brand of hawkishness?
You be the judge!!
Alternatively, maybe Barnes and Nobles are located in primarily liberal areas skewing the results.posted by: JS on 04.01.04 at 06:23 PM [permalink]
Or could it be there is just that much wrong with Bush foreign policy? THe answer to the question would to be to find out how many foreign policy books have been written that are not critical of Bush. Dan??posted by: Kat on 04.01.04 at 06:23 PM [permalink]
Another possibility is that the pro-Bush authors like Laurie Mylroie or Richard Perle shot their wad last year or earlier, and have saturated their market.
So nobody's buying their books now.
Also, old books that talk about the threat of Iraqi WMD and such aren't worth the paper they're printed on these days, are they?posted by: Jon H on 04.01.04 at 06:23 PM [permalink]
FUnny you should mention Richard Pearle Jon, you probably can answer this question for me.
My brother just purchased the book " An End to Evil, How To Win The War On Terrorism" and I was wondering what others thought of it. I am going to grab it and Clarke's book somewhere after I get paid. Any input?posted by: Kat on 04.01.04 at 06:23 PM [permalink]
It's the nature of the book business. Who wants to read how wonderfully the president is doing his job? He should do his job well. that?s what he was elected for. Only criticism will be read. Remember the throusands of books about Clinton and "his" cocaine trade and murder spree and God knows what. Bush supporters do not buy pro Bush books. Bush haters do buy anti Bush books. Makes them feel good to read how lousy Bush is.posted by: Ricky Vandal on 04.01.04 at 06:23 PM [permalink]
Or big media's refusal to push pro-Bush material?posted by: BigJosh on 04.01.04 at 06:23 PM [permalink]
Love your comment. It perfectly illustrates the conspiracy-first mindset of the right. You are right, of course; sinister agents of the Big Media will never let a pro-Bush book get published. Never! And if they do, they'll make sure that their own book is a flop. They're just like that.posted by: Detached Observer on 04.01.04 at 06:23 PM [permalink]
Books have such a long lead time that they can't keep up with the daily changing justifications for Bush's foreign policy.
I can't find the story, but wasn't it a few months ago that the party line went from the CIA being too modest with intelligence assessments to being too loose leaving an entire book by Laurie Myrolie out to dry. No wonder they don't sell, they are trying to sell yesterday's party line.
Imagine how many manuscipts are wasting away detailing how the invasion of Iraq saved us from horrible WMD attacks Sadaam was planning.posted by: Rich on 04.01.04 at 06:23 PM [permalink]
Ordinarily an American administration does most of the explanation and defense of its own foreign policy itself. It has sometimes been the President himself who leads this effort, occasionally even in fora that allow questions to be put to him directly.
The Bush administration does things differently, and having left a vacuum where the explication of its foreign policy should be has seen it filled by critics. It has itself and no one else to blame for this.posted by: Zathras on 04.01.04 at 06:23 PM [permalink]
Or big media's refusal to push pro-Bush material?
Because, what, all those fawning kiss-ass Bush at War reviews and articles never happened? Please tell me you're kidding.posted by: agrajag on 04.01.04 at 06:23 PM [permalink]
“It's the nature of the book business. Who wants to read how wonderfully the president is doing his job?”
Indeed, the negative books concerning Bill Clinton also sold very well. Why did the Richard Clarke work sell particularly well? The enemies of President Bush probably suspect that they have given it their best shot. This may be the last major criticism before the election. Clarke is enjoying the final minutes of his fifteen minutes of fame. The President may very well have endured the roughest challenge to his reelection efforts. It may very well be smooth sailing from here on end.posted by: David Thomson on 04.01.04 at 06:23 PM [permalink]
Jon H has it right, I think.
The people in favor of this admin's policies got slightly more advance warning of the course events were likely to take.
The people against this admin's policies--those who were surprised and aghast by the Iraq adventure--needed a little more time to do their research and to write it up.
And the publishers may have needed some time for the market to lose that starry-eyed stare.
Two years ago, I bet the best-selling foreign policy books were not so dovish.posted by: NoName on 04.01.04 at 06:23 PM [permalink]
It is uncharacteristic for you to engage in such wishful thinking that it will be smooth sailing from here on out. The fact is that the Kerry campaign has hardly begun to really attack Bush given all the ammunition he has provided them.
My guess is that they are going to try to win by taking the high road. If October rolls around and that is not working they will start a scorched earth campaign against Bush. All the stories that you think are gone will be brought back up: What is the real story with his National Guard service? What happenend with the Plame investigation? Where are the Weapons of Mass Destruction? Why didn't he focus more on terrorism prior to 9/11? Why does most of the world hate George Bush? Why did Halliburton get all those Iraq contracts? Why did they resist the Department of Homeland Security? Why are so many tax cuts going to the rich? Why are they doing nothing to stop outsourcing of US jobs? And the list could go on.
I am not saying all these attacks are true, or that they will work, or that they lead to good policy. All I am saying is that there is a lot of ammunition the Kerry Campaign has to use and you are naive to think they will just softly sulk to defeat.posted by: Rich on 04.01.04 at 06:23 PM [permalink]
It is uncharacteristic for you to engage in such wishful thinking that it will be smooth sailing from here on out.”
Wishful thinking? President Bush’s chances for reelection just keep get better and better. Are you totally unaware of what happened about an hour ago?:
“U.S. job growth soars
Gain of 308,000 jobs far better than Wall Street's forecasts”
John Kerry’s people are probably close to being suicidal. The situational is looking desperate. As for Richard Clarke and his collaborators---the American people have concluded that they are simply partisan jerks unworthy of being taken seriously. How can I tell? Simply look at the polls before this morning’s fantastic economic news. The issues you cite are of importance only to the radical Left.posted by: David Thomson on 04.01.04 at 06:23 PM [permalink]
You miss the point of what I was saying. It doesn't matter if it is true, it doesn't matter if it will win the election, it doesn't matter who will eventually win the election. All I was saying is that if Kerry is behind in October he will not hesistate to get very negative and launch attacks from all angles against Bush. So don't think they are out of the woods on these issues yet.
I won't even bother with your perceptions of what is important to the American people. My dream is that Bush puts you in charge of his communication strategy for a week.posted by: Rich on 04.01.04 at 06:23 PM [permalink]
"What is the real story with his National Guard service?"
Yeah, nobody is sick of that yet.
"What happenend with the Plame investigation?"
"Where are the Weapons of Mass Destruction?"
"Why didn't he focus more on terrorism prior to 9/11?"
Why wasn't BL dead prior to 9/11? Supposedly, we had him in our sites 3 times...
"Why does most of the world hate George Bush?"
By most of the world, you mean France and who else exactly?
"Why did Halliburton get all those Iraq contracts?"
Like if somebody else got them, you wouldn't be complaining about them, too?
"Why are so many tax cuts going to the rich?"
Uh, cause they pay the most taxes, and it is better to have them spending money in the economy than throwing it down the Treasury rathole. Besides, they still pay more taxes that you and I combined.
I would continue, but this is just boring. Kerry has already run these issues up the ol' flagpole, and hasn't really gotten anywhere. The problem with the Kerry campaign is Kerry himself, not issues.posted by: JK on 04.01.04 at 06:23 PM [permalink]
“I won't even bother with your perceptions of what is important to the American people.”
Who cares about my perceptions of the American people? What does that have to do with anything? Just look at the polls. Common sense dictates that the middle of the road voter is fed up with the cheap shots against the President. Either Bush’s critics come up with something very substantial---or the regular folks will click them off their radar screen. Also, please note that my earlier comments were posted at 05:09 AM----long before the fantastic jobs reports released at 7:30 AM EST. At that time, my views were premised upon this report merely showing a decent improvement. Needless to add, they were far better than that! Yup, it looks like President Bush may be home free. What was that scream I just heard? Could that be John Kerry’s people jumping out of the skyscraper window?posted by: David Thomson on 04.01.04 at 06:23 PM [permalink]
posted by: Bithead on 04.01.04 at 06:23 PM [permalink]
Your argument about the tax cuts going to the rich might work, except it isn't the biggest absolute amount in tax cuts, it's the biggest percentages. And the middle class pays a bigger percentage of income, if you include state, local, social security taxes, etc.
As for the rest of your arguments, they seem to boil down to "They make me unhappy, so I'm going to pretend they don't exist, la la la I can't hear you." Laziness and ignorance are not a position. Try again.posted by: agrajag on 04.01.04 at 06:23 PM [permalink]
“Laziness and ignorance are not a position. Try again.”
No, you are the one who has too keep trying to raise some dust. The voters are turning to other interests. Your issues bore them to death. Don’t believe me? Once again, look at the polls.
By the way, John Kerry is definitely getting desperate:
“Kerry touted his plan to create 10 million jobs if he is elected president.”
He reminds me of a drowning man who’s going down for the last time. I can see the next released political policy book title, “How the Presidential Campaign Made John Kerry Crazy.” Richard Clarke may even write the introduction.
Why am I having such a hard time making this point. It is not a partisan point, just one about poltical tactics.
I am not trying to say that all those attacks I listed would work, or even that they were true. I was just saying that in response to DT's comment earlier:
"The enemies of President Bush probably suspect that they have given it their best shot. This may be the last major criticism before the election. Clarke is enjoying the final minutes of his fifteen minutes of fame. The President may very well have endured the roughest challenge to his reelection efforts. It may very well be smooth sailing from here on end."
...all I was saying was that if John Kerry is trailing in October then things are going to get really ugly. There is a lot of mud to sling at the President, and with nothing to lose you will the Democrats not hold back. It might backfire, it will certainly be a gamble, but to expect "smooth sailing" from here on out is dreaming. (And if Bush is trailing then pretty much by definition it will not have been smooth sailing).posted by: Rich on 04.01.04 at 06:23 PM [permalink]
“...all I was saying was that if John Kerry is trailing in October then things are going to get really ugly.”
And you are obviously missing my point. First of all, I still suspect that John Kerry may not be the Democrat nominee. He is a very weak candidate on the stump. I burst out laughing when Dan Drezner assured us that Mickey Kaus and he were only being facetious regarding the need to hide Kerry. Hell, I’m serious as a heart attack. Will he drop out before the convention? It will be interesting. Dan will be gone for about the next ten days. President Bush should have a solid six to eight point lead by that time---and he will never look back. The economic news will likely only get better before November’s election. Will things “get really ugly?” The real question is whether things “get effectively ugly?” I doubt very much that they will.posted by: David Thomson on 04.01.04 at 06:23 PM [permalink]
That is a fair point regarding the difference between ugly and effectively ugly. I would not agree, but I understand what you are saying.
I would still say that regardless of who the Dems put up, if that person is trailing in October there will be an overwhelming temptation to go negative.
I would also like to make some money by placing a wager on Kerry being the Democratic nominee. Heck, I'll give you 5-1 odds. But I figure that is not your style, so I will just admire your obstinacy in the face of all evidence. I will also welcome your response when the Bush house of cards comes collapsing down on the weight of its own lies (big and small). It may not happen for years, but it is coming.posted by: Rich on 04.01.04 at 06:23 PM [permalink]
I wonder what the top 10 foreign affairs book list is like in Europe.
Or Saudi Arabia, for that matter.
I wonder if any of them spend as much time examining in their internal governmental/intelligence/military workings and wondering why it is they seem to keep raising the ire of the United States and what it is they can do to better get along with us simple, uncurious Americans.posted by: Steve in Houston on 04.01.04 at 06:23 PM [permalink]
There is one more factor at work here (referencing the start of the thread, not the end) - nearly 40% of all books sold in the U.S. are sold in the narrow band that runs from Richmond up to Boston. This is solid blue territory.
I don't have current figures for types or genres of books sold where - I don't care, I'm a wholesaler.posted by: RichInBooks on 04.01.04 at 06:23 PM [permalink]
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