Making clear (if it wasn't already) that he'll be running for president in 2016, New York governor Andrew Cuomo has decided to write a book, in which he'll lay out his vision for America. America no doubt awaits with bated breath. Which got me wondering: When was the last time a sitting politician actually wrote a book worth reading? We'll have to consult the historians on whether the answer is "never," but it certainly hasn't happened in a long, long time.
Last year, in what I came to think of as a courageous act of public service, I suffered through and then reviewed the campaign books written by Mitt Romney, Tim Pawlenty, Newt Gingrich, Mike Huckabee, and Sarah Palin. The latter two decided not to run in the end, but their homespun wisdom and common sense surely left untold numbers of Americans more optimistic about the future of this great land.
These books can occasionally become problematic, as Mitt Romney discovered when the paperback edition of No Apology deleted a line from the hardcover saying about the health care plan he passed in Massachusetts, "We can do the same thing for everyone in the country," because that would obviously be terrible. His primary opponents discovered the deletion and used it to attack him. But has a candidate's book ever actually won him or her any votes?
You might say that having written (or "written") a book lends a politician a certain weight and gravitas. After all, many serious ideas have been communicated in books. The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire is a book. On the other hand, so is First Step 2 Forever: My Story, by Justin Bieber. And the typical campaign book is a lot closer to the latter than the former. But maybe Cuomo's will be the exception. Or maybe the one we'll surely see from Maryland governor Martin O'Malley will be. Or maybe the ones from whoever else decides to run. Probably not, though.