Monday, May 22, 2006

The Write Time

This criticism may seem a bit strained but I have a problem with people holding public office writing books or having any other part time job. This is especially true of those holding national office such as President, Senator or Representative. I bring this up because I see Senator Barack Obama of Illinois has written another book.

I’m sure Obama’s book, The Audacity of Hope: Reclaiming the American Dream, is a good one. He’s a thoughtful, intelligent man with lots to say. I’d probably even pick up the book myself if I had the time. Yes, if I had the time. And that gets to my gripe (petty as it is).

I don’t think a U.S. Senator has the time to write a book. Or shouldn’t. Maybe I’m just applying my own personal bias here, but if I were a Senator I would feel obliged to learn everything I can about, well, everything. That would involve a lot of reading and little writing other than in pursuit of more learning.

I often wonder how much these guys really know about the things they are voting on; not just the verbiage of the legislation itself but the ideas, causes and effects behind the measures. I think it would drive me to a near state of paralysis wanting to get all the facts before casting a vote. I would want to devour information as fast as I could access it. I wouldn’t have time to write a book in the middle of all that. Book writing would come after I retired from (or, more likely, voted out of) office.

So while, I appreciate the Senator’s literary abilities and many of the ideas he will presumably communicate in the new book, I just think he needs to focus on the job he was elected to do. And that goes for the rest of them too.


Anonymous said...

Of all the things politicians do to make extra money on the side, writing books is probably the least crooked and unoffensive method I can think of. I don't think we'll find any shoeboxes full of cash in Obama's DC apartment. I also think its good for US Senators to add to the national dialogue. Senator Byrd's book in '04 was a great contribution in that regard.

Dave said...

Anon –

I agree there are certainly worse things a Senator could be doing, but my point is there are also better things he could be doing.

Books are fine things and do, as you suggest, have the potential to advance the national discourse. I just think there are better means to that end given the finite time available for guiding the nation.