Dear Big Daddy,
How come you were never a best-selling author?
–Earle in Escondido
It wasn’t easy. I wrote bills, letters, screeds, proclamations and op-eds, but books escaped me. I was the subject of books, of course, but that’s not the same.
But I know where this question is coming from: Steve Poizner wrote a book on his high-school teaching experiences and he made the New York Times best-seller list. I learned two things from his book, neither of which was remotely related to the content.
First, anybody can write a book. Second, anybody can write a NYT bestseller, if they have $50,000 in cash.
The latter was a very disturbing revelation.
I’ve always assumed that making the bestseller list was a just reward for talent, artistry and earned popularity. But to learn that Poizner got there by hiring a specialty communications firm to deviously peddle the tome to unsuspecting recipients via Amazon gave me pause. It made me even more cynical than I am.
I love exploiting the unsuspecting, of course, and a devious, intricate political maneuver in an honorable quest – well, there’s nothing better. Just look at my Consumer Credit Protection Act.
But my chicanery and quick moves were limited to the Capitol or a bedroom. And I never made a top-10 list, at least not for writing. The idea that you could buy your way onto the Times’ best-seller list says as much about that list as about Poizner. And that bothers me. If you can’t trust the Gray Lady, who can you trust?
The problem with politician-authors is that the books are all so transparent and predicable. Going Rogue, The Power of Many, Mount Pleasant, etc., etc. Oh, please.
What we really need is a good cookbook.
“Meg Whitman’s Crème Brulee,” would be a good start. Or how about “Steve Poizner’s Hot Chile” or “Jerry Brown’s Calcutta Cuisine” or “Chuck DeVore’s Gourmet Dishes of Santa Clarita?” Maybe “Carly’s Condiments” or “Fiorina’s Fennel” would entice readers. And I’m all for nibbling on Meg or Carly’s goodies, certainly more than reading self-hype from a candidate.
I always heard that George Deukmejian was a good cook, although I don’t remember him mentioning it during this his campaign for governor, and he used to eat lunch in the Capitol basement, which shows culinary fortitude. And I heard Pete Wilson packed a mean spatula at a barbecue — although I find it hard to believe — and so did Ronald Reagan. Jim Mills did good spaghetti when we went to the mattresses.
But the problem with politicians and cooking is that politicians are body- and image- obsessed and really good cooks could care less. In fact, they look like me.
Anyway, any cookbook has got to be better than Mount Pleasant.
Pass the salt…