Saturday, February 26, 2011

Gail Collins' Presidential Primary Book Club

Gail Collins is one of my favorite columnists for the New York Times. I am on my Blackberry religiously, reading every word she's ever published. I noticed her at first because she's a woman, but I stayed with her because her articles has a touch of whimsy mixed with cynicism that just made me smile inside.

If I were you, I'd read her most recent post about Mike Huckabee. It's titled Presidential Primary Book Club and that's why I made my title the same. Read it and you will see what I mean about the mix of cynicism and whimsy.

In order to understand the basic point of this blog post, you need to simply read this quote. It is the entire first paragraph of her article.

One of a journalist’s most important duties is to seek out information in places the readers wouldn’t go themselves, like following troops into combat or covering charter revision commission hearings. In that spirit, I have been reading all the books written by likely candidates for the Republican presidential nomination.

Do you get my point? No? Sigh. The point is that I don't actually want to read these damn books these Republicans keep writing. I still haven't read all the books Obama wrote, why the hell would I read anything those guys have to say? But I do want the book condensed into a snarky version of its essence for me. And with these columns, I'm able to pretend I'm sitting down on Wednesday nights with a glass of wine and reaping the rewards of being in a book club without all the work.

Gail Collins discusses Mike Huckabee's book the same was she discussed Tim Pawlenty's book. You should read that column too. It was liberal gold. Mike Huckabee is obsessed with the number 12. Could that be because of his religious leanings? He also flipped from supporting a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants, but he's changed his mind. And he used to cook squirrels in a popcorn popper in college. I can always count on Gail Collins to throw in some totally unimportant fact that I'm truly glad I now know.

Tim Pawlenty is obsessed with his family. He gets painted as a frat boy who's entire book is self-congratulatory. Based on how he seems on TV, I don't think her interpretation is too far off. Oh and he thinks he's funnier than he is. Not a crime, but it certainly invokes images of W. doing a dance for the reporters while trying to buy time before a press conference. I can't wait to see what the next guy/gal is obsessed with.

What she discusses is particularly interesting to me for a number of reasons. 1. I just love learning about modern politics as it's happening.   2. Whoever the Republican candidate is will affect whether Obama will be a 4 year or 8 year president.   3. Her liberal views on these matters line up with what I already feel and therefore want to hear more of.

I think it's okay to succumb to confirmation bias if you know that it's happening. And I'm amused by the way she amplifies the worst in the books. She's pointing out something I've been reading rather often in political analysts columns in various mediums (mostly CNN,, and AP Mobile). It's that the field of Republican candidates for president in 2012 will be quite pitiful.

There is still plenty of time for someone to emerge that actually has favorability ratings that are trending upward. But for now, they are screwed. And I for one cannot wait for the next installment of the Presidential Primary Book Club.

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