Bios Vs Vanity Portraits. Know what you're getting beforehand.Nov 2, 2004 (Updated Nov 3, 2004) Write an essay on this topic.
Popular Products in BooksThe Bottom Line Presidential wannabe vanity projects are pieces of egomania written by people who can't write for people who can't read.
Frank Zappa once made the observation that: "Most rock journalism is people who can't write, interviewing people who can't talk, for people who can't read."
Although Mr. Zappa was talking about rock journalism when he made that famous observation, he could just as easily have been talking about the glut of Presidential Biographies that hit bookstore shelves in the year leading up to an election. Most of them are books that pretend to be written for the purpose of educating voters about where a particular candidate stands on the issues as well details of the candidate's Life. Most of these books find their way to the bargain tables and used bins. Which is where they belong. This is not to imply that all books on bargain tables or used bins are bad. I've found some pretty good (pardon the pun) bargains in these places. Yet wannabe presidential vanity projects are often badly written works of ego written by people who can't write for people who think People Magazine is intellectual.
I've heard people complain about Michael Moore's film Fahrenheit 9/11. The complaints about it are varied. But the most valid one is that some people are making up their minds about voting based solely on that film. I agree with them on that and I would also raise the same argument to people who would vote on the basis of a presidential wannabe vanity project.
By its very nature, the vanity project is set to present the candidate in the best light possible. No blemishes please. Thus we get loving portraits of the candidates that don't say anything about their weak sides. According to presidential wannabe vanity projects, the candidates are perfect and Americans should be grateful they're running for president.
Also, many election year bios are presented as authored by the candidates themselves. Most of them were in fact, ghostwritten. A prime example of this is George W Bush's 2000 campaign bio A Charge To Keep, which was actually penned by Karen Hughes.
If one is looking for info about a candidate, their best bet is to go to an independent media source. Search the Internet; look for books authored by people not connected directly to the candidate in question. There is only one word to describe presidential wannabe vanity projects: Propaganda.
There are good presidential bios to read. Most of these are actual bios of former Presidents, not slapped together vanity projects designed to elect or re-elect a particular candidate. Some examples include:
Truman by David McCullogh
Theodore Rex by Edmund Morris
FDR: An Intimate History by Nathan Miller
The Real Lincoln by Thomas DiLorenzo
and numerous others. I also highly recommend Star Spangled Men by the aforementioned Nathan Miller. It advises us on what we do NOT want in a president, although for the book to be truly definitive on that Miller needs to re-issue it with two new chapters, one on Clinton, one on George W Bush.
So know what you're getting beforehand when you head for the bookstore. A presidential bio (including but not limited to the books I noted above) can be a good read; presidential wannabe vanity projects are pieces of egomania written by people who can't write for people who can't read.
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