Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Day 68- Courage & Consequence

Dear Mr. President,

As an author, I'm sure you appreciate the challenges of writing honestly, and well, about yourself and your own experiences. Many authors attempt to do this, but I think very few succeed. Today, another example of such an attempt goes on sale. Last night, (really, only a few hours ago,) I was putting out Karl Rove's new book for display. Mr. Rove's book, Courage and Consequence was bound to pique my curiosity. For one thing, the title suggests that Karl Rove, in an attempt to broaden the appeal of his book, targeted the "Jane Austen" demographic, a group of readers rarely sought after by the publishers of political memoirs. Additionally, the blurb on the back of the book describes Rove's as, "a life spent in political combat and service to country, no matter the costs." I'll grant that as Deputy Chief of Staff, Mr. Rove served his country; the language used in the book, however, seem to indicate that Mr. Rove believes he has sacrificed himself for his country, somehow, and I fail to see the evidence supporting such a contention.

For the time being, as I am still a seller of books, I believe that every one, even Karl Rove, has a right to have their story told. No matter what my profession, I will always oppose censoring or suppression, even the voices of those that I disagree with. The smug, self-satisfied, extreme close-up of Mr. Rove's face on the cover of this book, however, tests this conviction more than any author since Robert Spencer. Whenever books like this come out, where the author is so clearly trying to retell a familiar story in a way that casts them in a more forgivable role, I always wonder how many minds they really feel they will change. Most of the people who buy this book will already agree with everything Mr. Rove has to say. A significant portion of rest will only be picking it up to find their name in the index. I can't imagine Rove will win over many skeptics.

If anything, I am most surprised at my own reaction to the publication of this book. I get angry, fiercely angry at the account Mr. Rove gives, casting President Bush as the misunderstood hero. I think I am angry because it doesn't seem fair that the conservative spin machine has extended so far into my bookstore, instead of keeping to the talk radio and TV news as I feel it should. I think I am angry because I am afraid that I might not be completely right, that Mr. Rove may have reasonable, even valuable perspectives on things I am unwilling to hear, as they may threaten my own beliefs. I'm not sure what the most productive way of dealing with these feelings might be, but for now I've settled with photocopying his face off of the cover and plastering it all over my boss's office. Mature, it is not, but at least I feel a bit better.

After your own time in the White House is finished, will you write another memoir, Mr. President? You seem to be more inclined toward writing as an end in its own, which is likely why your books sell so well and are so enjoyable to read. If you do, I hope you are able to bring the frankness of your first two books to your reflections on life in the White House.

Respectfully yours,


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