Thursday, January 22, 2009

First, second, third, ..., ???th author-president

I don't buy Garrison Keillor's assertion in today's Irish Times that President Obama is "our first genuine author-president". I might check for other authors & titles later, but I know Jefferson wrote Notes on the State of Virginia, which was published in the 1780s. I was pretty sure Wilson had published a book (or more). Took me all of 1 minute to find this one - Congressional Government, published in 1900. Keillor doesn't know what he's talking about.

And, just because other Presidents may not have had their writings published in book form under their own names hardly means they weren't authors. I mean Jefferson also 'authored' the Declaration of Independence. Madison 'authored' about a third of the Federalist Papers. Adams drafted the Constitution of the State of Massachusetts. And so on.

Look, I can understand being an Obama supporter, being thrilled by his election and even losing the run of yourself because you're so happy. But, is it too much to ask those who publish syndicated columns to try maintain some perspective?

Update Here's another book by an author-president: The Naval War of 1812 by Theodore Roosevelt. I then found this from the NY Times from 1902, which indicates that Roosevelt had written "over a dozen books" before he became President. The Times does say that Roosevelt was "in no sense a professional author", but that was their way of saying that Roosevelt's literary achievements were not masterpieces. The Times does acknowledge that Roosevelt's books were "widely read".

Okay, that's it. No more time wasted on this annoyance.