November 2002

Michael Schaub


The 2002 Candidates

It's that time of the year again! The November 5 elections will determine which party controls the House and the Senate, and this is one of the closest elections in years. So why should you care? You probably shouldn't. But just in case you do, Bookslut is happy to provide a guide to the books of certain 2002 candidates. Everyone knows you have to write a book to be elected president (Gore, Bush and McCain each had one; Bradley and Nader had several), but it's markedly less essential for midterm statewide candidates. Maybe going through the trouble of finding a ghostwriter to turn out a crappy 200 page book is just too much when the payoff is a lousy seat in the U.S. House. Nevertheless, we're proud to do our part to contribute to informed democracy by profiling the books listed below. Read, learn, and remember to vote, you lazy bastard.

( sales ranks quoted below were accurate as of October 28, 2002.)

The candidate: Elizabeth Dole, Republican candidate for U.S. Senate from North Carolina
The book:
Unlimited Partners: Our American Story (with Bob Dole, Simon & Schuster, 1996) sales rank:
Book with higher sales rank: Ice by Ice: The Vanilla Ice Story in His Own Words by Vanilla Ice (461,559)
Sample quote:
"Sunday had become just another day of the week. Gradually, I realized that although I was blessed with a beautiful marriage and a challenging career, my life was close to spiritual starvation. I prayed about this and God led me to the people and the experiences that would transform my life."
Intended audience:
This should appeal to anyone who really, really, really likes the Doles, and to absolutely nobody else.
Indication that Bob isn't really clear on the whole "partnership" thing: In 2000, the year Elizabeth ran for president, Bob contributed to the campaign of her opponent, John McCain.
Odds to win election:
3:2 in favor. For one thing, she's extremely popular in her home state. For another, her opponent is named "Erskine Bowles."

The candidate: Rep. Jesse L. Jackson, Jr., Democratic candidate for U.S. House from Illinois
The book:
A More Perfect Union: Advancing New American Rights (with Frank Watkins, Welcome Rain, 2001) sales rank: 111,198
Book with higher sales rank:
Golden Fountain: The Complete Guide to Urine Therapy by Coen van der Kroon (38,454)
Sample quote:
"In casual private conversations (Rep. Bill Lipinksi) often refers to my very good friend Rod Blagojevich as 'salt' and to me as 'pepper,' his humorous way of pointing out our racial differences."
Sample review:
"Imagine not stumbling upon the word racism until 1936 and finding no rise of the African American experience. Preposterous. Is it not? But truth. Congressman Jackson not only reveals why we must be outraged, not in the riotous form, but further demonstrates, in this important piece how we must engage our outrage by 'economic reform.'" ( reader Alanna Joi Ford)
Why you may hear this guy's name again in 2004: Jackson is one of the Green Party's dream candidates for the next presidential election. Then again, so are Marianne Williamson and Patch Adams.
Odds to win re-election: Jesse's not going anywhere, especially against a nobody like Republican challenger Doug Nelson. Jackson prevails, 15:1.

The candidate: Gov. George Pataki, Republican candidate for Governor of New York
The book: Pataki: Where I Come From (with Daniel Paisner, Viking, 1998) sales rank:
Book with higher sales rank:
The Ultimate Guide to Anal Sex for Women by Tristan Taormino (2,263)
Other state governors with cool last names:
Benjamin Cayetano (Hawai'i), John Kitzhaber (Oregon), William Janklow (South Dakota)
Former New York governor with name even cooler than "George Pataki":
Enos T. Throop (served 1829-1832)
Odds to win re-election:
The 9-11 governor will escape the dire threat posed by the state's obscure Democratic comptroller, 2:1.

The candidate: Rep. Richard Gephardt, Democratic candidate for U.S. House from Missouri
The book:
An Even Better Place: America in the 21st Century (with Michael Wessel, PublicAffairs, 1999) sales rank:
Book with higher sales rank:
Liberace: An American Boy by Darden Asbury Pyron (148,150)
Sample quote:
"We cause citizens to hate their leaders and their government, to become cynical, apathetic, and indifferent. In time, they drop out and begin treating politics as just another form of gladiatorial entertainment, they start electing professional wrestlers as governors."
Sample review (positive):
"Not bad, as books by politicians go. Gephardt does seem to truly care about where America is headed. However, he's ambiguous as to just where that might be." (Kirkus Reviews)
Sample review (negative):
"This book is ideologically suited for those who wish to follow in the footsteps of Mussolini, not America." ( reader David Usher)
How Barbra Streisand misspelled Gephardt's name in a threatening letter to him:
Odds to win re-election:
Gephardt is as much a St. Louis institution as...uh...that arch thing. And, any rate, he'll win. 30:1 for.

The candidate: Rahul Mahajan, Green Party candidate for Governor of Texas
The book:
The New Crusade: America's War on Terrorism (Monthly Review, 2002) sales rank:
Book with higher sales rank:
Warrior: An Autobiography by Ariel Sharon (22,527)
Sample quote:
"The fruits of centuries of this urge to excommunicate from humanity whoever happens to be the foe at the moment are clear. Political phenomena in human societies are now inexplicable, to be ascribed simply to unknowable primal urges - if they depart from the dominant framework of our society."
Intended audience:
Do you eat only raw foods? Did you cancel your subscription to The Nation because it's too conservative? Did you live in a swing state and vote for Nader anyway? If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, buy this book! And then move to Europe, hippie.
Possible holiday present for the far-left malcontent in your life: Mahajan's new book, The U.S. War Against Iraq: Myths, Facts, and Lies will be released by Seven Stories in December.
Names of groups with which Mahajan is affiliated:
No War Collective, National Board of Peace Action, National Network to End the War Against Iraq
Odds to win election:
If Mahajan has so many opinions about American foreign policy, what the hell is he doing running for governor of Texas? Anyway, odds are 500:1 against, unless a natural disaster destroys all of Texas except the Hyde Park neighborhood in Austin.