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No Candidate Left Behind

By "Guido Veloce"
Illustration by Michael Morgenstern

Having a lame-duck president is great for publishers. Every would-be candidate from both parties rushes into print to explain where he or she stands on God, family life, truth, justice, and the American way. The present incumbent published his, with a co-author, in 1999, when he was a governor. Within the last three years, we've heard from Dennis Kucinich, Bill Frist, Hillary Clinton, Rick Santorum, John McCain, Rudolph Giuliani, Newt Gingrich, and Howard Dean. A candidate without a book deal is a pathetic thing.

I've been working my way through several of these tomes — scholars know how to have fun — and significant differences emerge. Rick Santorum, for example, loves italics. The following words appear in italics in the 10-page first chapter of his It Takes a Family: acronym, family, do, hard, against, something is wrong, Big, stewardship (twice), replenished, wealth of families, up, and down. That's an average of two italicized words per page and doesn't include the 21 words or phrases he "puts" in quotation marks. Hillary Clinton, by contrast, reserves italics for book titles. The choice couldn't be clearer.

Some of these books are written "with" somebody. I would love to be that somebody — I've always wanted to try my hand at fiction — and wouldn't want any reward, except to become a "crony." Here's my writing sample, a generic outline of a political memoir in the making, available in finished form to qualified members of either party, and there may be some:

Where I Stand (3rd revised edition)Chapter 1: Humble Beginnings

I come from a poor family, as millionaires go, and we moved around a lot, especially whenever mother remarried. But it was a warm, multicultural environment in which I was surrounded by people of all races and ethnicities. I came to love those kind, happy men and women who kept our houses, cars, gardens, and pets in superb condition....

Chapter 5: School Days

We were a family of deep faith and traditional values. Mother always insisted that our nannies instill them in us, and all but one did. We had been especially close, and her departure was a traumatic event in my life, although Mother comforted me by insisting that we would continue to pay her "expenses" for many years afterward. It was at that time Mother suddenly decided that I should go to boarding school in Europe "to learn a language." At first I found England cold and gray, but later....

Chapter 9: The College Decade

My father and stepfathers were Yale graduates and expected that I would follow in their footsteps. Ever independent, however, I sought an institution with different traditions and admissions policies. Never for a moment have I regretted my decision to attend Bushmills College, and I'm very proud of my record of selective excellence there....

At Bushmills I met my close friend and longtime chief political adviser (until his "problems"), Addison Flashman. Even back then we called him "Snarly." You wouldn't know it from his recent reluctance to talk, but Snarly was our star thespian. He won the title roles in our musical adaptations of The Executioner's Song and Aguirre, the Wrath of God. His only misstep was as Igor in Frankenstein, where his penchant for realism proved troubling....

Chapter 18: That Woman Lied

My long ordeal ended with two of the sweetest words in the English language, uttered in a telephone call from my lawyer — "unindicted co-conspirator"....

Chapter 22: The Role of Government

Someone once said that the government is best that governs least. That's the core of my philosophy. Government should be a guardian of American values, respectful of all religions, limited in scope, and should not engage in senseless, expensive boondoggles. There are, of course, some exceptions, many of them in my state....

Chapter 24: Our Best Hope

Our children are our greatest asset. Oil, however, is a close second and, unlike children, is non-renewable....

Conclusion: A Faith for the Near Future

I stand before you as a man whose deep, unwavering faith and fixed principles are in black and white in this book and posted on his Web site for all the world to see, updated weekly.

"Guido Veloce" is a Johns Hopkins University professor.

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