Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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May 23, 2009

AN ALTERNATIVE MOTIVATION.... So, why has Dick Cheney been so desperate to hit the airwaves as part of his crusade against the White House? Explanations differ, but his desire to sell a memoir to publishers might have at least something to do with his efforts.

With his sustained blitz of television appearances and speeches, former Vice President Dick Cheney has established himself as perhaps the leading Republican voice against President Obama.

Not a bad time, then, to be in the market for a multimillion-dollar book contract.... A person familiar with discussions Mr. Cheney has had with publishers said he was seeking more than $2 million for his advance. That sum may prove hard to get in this economic climate, especially given his generally low approval ratings, which publishers view as a potential -- but not certain -- harbinger for sales.

Reports indicate Cheney may end up with a deal with Simon & Schuster, because it's home to an imprint run by Mary Matalin, who is also publishing Karl Rove's book.

This might offer at least some hints about Cheney's recent motivations. A book written by a failed former vice president may not compel publishers to pay the big bucks, but a book written by one of the leaders of the modern Republican Party, and the GOP's leading attack dog of the nation's elected leadership, might generate a more sizable advance.

What I don't quite understand is why anyone would expect Cheney's book to be successful. After all, the former vice president has a well-deserved reputation for almost comical dishonesty. Who's going to pony up $29.95 for a book written by someone who routinely blurs the line between fact and fiction?

If Cheney were prepared to write a juicy tell-all, with fascinating behind-the-scenes insights, it might have a better shot at becoming a best seller. But it seems unlikely that the secretive former vice president would reveal anything that would make his administration look bad.

And then there's the matter of yet another Bushie writing yet another book about a period most Americans are anxious to leave in the past. For eight years, every decision Cheney made turned out to be wrong, if not completely disastrous. How many book buyers will want to relive the Bush years through Cheney's eyes?

Steve Benen 11:00 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (31)

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"...someone who routinely blurs the line between fact and fiction"

Steve, you are being much too kind.

Posted by: Okie on May 23, 2009 at 11:13 AM | PERMALINK

Who's going to pony up $29.95 for a book written by someone who routinely blurs the line between fact and fiction?

It'll be at Edward R. Hamilton Booksellers within 90 days of release, selling for whatever two gallons of gas are going for at the time, but owning it, if not actually reading it, will have some talismanic value on the right -- it will serve as a visual token that the owner is a correctly-oriented cadre.

And yahoos will donate copies to every public library in small-town America, where ten or twenty years from now high-school students doing term papers on the era will make the mistake of thinking it's a reliable, because contemporaneous, primary source. My library in small-town Maine had routinely donated to it just about every Clinton-bashing tome from Regnery, all dutifully cataloged and shelved.

Posted by: Davis X. Machina on May 23, 2009 at 11:15 AM | PERMALINK

"Who's going to pony up $29.95 for a book written by someone who routinely blurs the line between fact and fiction?"

The same people who bulk buy all the other right-wing wastes of paper: CPAC, College Republicans, RNC organizers.

Then they hand them out like candy at their meetings and get-togethers.

Posted by: 2Manchu on May 23, 2009 at 11:18 AM | PERMALINK

The amount of money that Cheney has made from his Halliburton stock would dwarf even a million dollar book deal.

Sure, Cheney has said he would donate his profits from the stock to charity, but then he's said a lot of things that turned out to be untrue.

The true reason that Cheney has slithered out of his "undisclosed location" and onto the airwaves is:

He finds our lack of faith really disturbing.

Posted by: SteveT on May 23, 2009 at 11:18 AM | PERMALINK

Remember that book contracts are treated legally as advances, but the advance doesn't have to be paid back if it doesn't sell. No one has to buy the book if someone at Simon & Schuster or anywhere else wants to give Dick a two million dollar thank you for being a corrupt, lying fool. The person who approves the contract isn't even likely to lose his job when the book is a total failure.

Posted by: freelunch on May 23, 2009 at 11:22 AM | PERMALINK

There's still a substantial number of people who believe Cheney was right, all evidence to the contrary. They may not be enough to get a Republican into the White House, but it's probably enough to sell some books. Particularly if Deadeye is willing to go out and support it with personal appearances, the way he's been doing, and if the MSM is willing to lavishly cover his pronouncements with a straight face, even building him up to being a counterweight to the sitting President.

The more interesting thing here is the way Cheney is apparently willing to attempt to undermine the Commander-in-Chief using a campaign of lies and hypocrisy, all to sell a few books. I guess we shouldn't be surprised; this was the guy who was willing to torture people and commit war crimes in an attempt to create political cover when the war he'd started with lies didn't turn out so well.

Posted by: jimBOB on May 23, 2009 at 11:22 AM | PERMALINK

Sounds about right. Dead Eye was pro torture in order to squeeze out justification for tying Saddam to al-qaeda and now he's pro torture in order to lay the groundwork for a nice score on a book deal.

The man is deep. Very, very deep.

Posted by: burro on May 23, 2009 at 11:26 AM | PERMALINK

When Cheney gets his book published, and it will be published, I suggest that an alternative book be written in response. It could be called "Dick Cheney Debunked" or something along those lines.

It would have numerous authors - each an expert in their field and each contributing one chapter to the book. Each chapter would be devoted to one topic, backed-up with authentic footnotes/quotations. For example, one chapter could deal with Cheney's statement that "deficits don't matter" and show how this philosophy (probably embraced by Bush) contributed to this country's current financial mess. Another chapter would deal with torture; another would deal with his concept of a Unitary Executive Theory.

In other words, this alternative book would, one by one, debunk all the lies which we know Cheney is going to tell in his book. He will try to salvage his and Bush's legacy. We need to have something to document his lies. And what better way than a book. As far as I know this has never been done in publishing history.

Posted by: Sheridan on May 23, 2009 at 11:33 AM | PERMALINK

Six feet would be nice.

Posted by: freelunch on May 23, 2009 at 11:34 AM | PERMALINK

Could it be that he's also attempting to diminish Bush's memoirs? Bush may be less than generous to the asshole. One can hope.

Posted by: MissMudd on May 23, 2009 at 11:50 AM | PERMALINK

He doesn't need the money. He's doing it because he's a prick.

Posted by: buddy66 on May 23, 2009 at 11:51 AM | PERMALINK

In answer to your question, "28% of Americans". Isn't that the number of Americans who routinely let themselves be tea-bagged by the right?

I think Cheney is doing his tour out of fear. He is a coward and a bully. What happens to bullies once the victim refuses to be bullied and starts fighting back? The bully becomes afraid. Cheney is a fearful man, anyway, and all this talk of what happened under his watch is making him crazy with the fear. As it should.

Posted by: asiangrrlMN on May 23, 2009 at 12:03 PM | PERMALINK

A more economical explanation: when you have sold your soul to the devil, the devil demands his due.

Posted by: capitalistimperialistpig on May 23, 2009 at 12:06 PM | PERMALINK

I dunno. If Cheney publishes a book of lies, isn't there a chance that he would libel someone? If his publisher does not reasonably fact-check him, wouldn't the publisher be a party to the libel?

Maybe. Maybe not. It sounds like a costly project for a publisher. Big advance. Possible drain for legal funds. A publisher would have to be one of the true faithful, or have deep pockets and a fancy for high stakes gambling. Or both.

Posted by: jcricket on May 23, 2009 at 12:11 PM | PERMALINK

Another possibility is that, by going on the offensive in this way, Cheney makes it harder for the DoJ to investigate him in the future, since that could then be painted as political payback.

Posted by: larry birnbaum on May 23, 2009 at 12:12 PM | PERMALINK

"Another possibility is that, by going on the offensive in this way, Cheney makes it harder for the DoJ to investigate him in the future, since that could then be painted as political payback."- Larry Birnbaum

Amen. And if he is convincing enough or can just muddy the waters enough, his intent in the torture matters can be written off as sincere but misguided efforts. Maybe that matters in war crimes trials? Plus 37% of the people out there are now convinced that torture works (up 8% from the numbers before he went on the defensive, which can only go up once the repetition sets in and becomes convincing.

All this and money too. He's a shrewd, but evil, politician. What's not to like about the deal as far as he is concerned...

Posted by: Always Hopeful on May 23, 2009 at 1:19 PM | PERMALINK

Everyone is correct up above--its defensive, its offensive, it will pay pretty well, its a "get" for Matalin, its a no-lose proposition for both Matalin/Carville/ and Cheney in terms of pay off.

But also *and more importantly* what makes you all think its going to be a "kiss and tell" book? I'd say Cheney can make a huge profit and avoid a) prosecution, b) libel charges, c) truth by simply going on the OFFENSIVE and writing an all out attack on Obama. He can call it "DON'T LOOK BACK!" and simply rehash every lie and attach it to a series of statesmanlike meditations on the role of leader of the free world and the challenges that face Obama.


Posted by: aimai on May 23, 2009 at 1:23 PM | PERMALINK

The Fold issues a challenge!!

Posted by: Chris on May 23, 2009 at 1:49 PM | PERMALINK

Richard Bruce "Dick" Cheney is, quite simply, America's sweetheart.

A gracious nation opens its heart to the lovable gris eminence who's done so much to keep each and every one of us 100% safe in these last 8 years. Even unappreciative liberals.

While everything else seemed to collapse around us - food safety standards, roads and infrastructure safety, ecological well-being - our Dick stood athwart the US foreign policy apparatus yelling "Stop!"

Like our own personal grampa, Dick seemed to hover over each of us, keeping us snugly and safe in his warm, loving embrace. I, for one, felt I could reach for my Dick any time I needed just a little extra reassurance. It made me so happy. No amount of taxation can buy that.

Posted by: garnash on May 23, 2009 at 2:29 PM | PERMALINK

The guy's worth $50-$100 million. You think he cares about the proceeds of a book deal?

He's thinking of his legacy. And he's pissed - the "liberal" media from the NYT on down,, accepted nearly all of his arguments uncritically, in their anti-Arab and pro-profits orientation, with very little revision (exterminate the brutes, but with more planning/competence/human rights maybe). And then the media all decided Republicans weren't cool anymore.

And this switch to mocking the Republicans occurred in the face of, really, no *new* evidence that the Republicans were wrong/ridiculous/liars. Everyone who could read knew, years ago, that enhanced interrogations were taking place, knew that Cheney/Bush were leaning on the CIA to produce intel to justify the invasion, and were basically producing their own intel when necessary, knew that Saddam was absolutely no threat to the US, knew a link between Saddam/al Qaeda made no sense, knew that the UN inspectors had checked 500 sites - many picked by the Pentagon - access had not substantively been denied and nothing had been found, knew that the terrorist threat itself was really really blown out of proportion... etc.

The media who mocks the Repubs now knew all that, and so did Democratic politicians. And now everyone wants to act surprised and outraged.

Cheney thought, "Knowing this, you guys still printed our every assertion at the top of the NYT front page. (Saddam not complying!)... I thought we had a winkwinknudgenudge arrangement here, Straussian-style."

I'd be pissed too - he's saying, "look, I killed one million Arabs for you guys, which you were completely on board for, then you mock us when someone cooler comes along. Where's the love?

Posted by: flubber on May 23, 2009 at 2:31 PM | PERMALINK

The Cheney book news reminds me of one of my all time favorite political cartoons. Right after Nixon's memoirs, RN, were published, a cartoon (sorry, don't remember the artist) ran showing a pyramid of books on a bookstore table with the top copy of RN saying "I am not a book." We have in prospect "I am not a book II."


Posted by: charles Moore on May 23, 2009 at 2:32 PM | PERMALINK

Selling a book may only be a small part of the reason that Cheney is in everyone's face these days. Staying out of jail may actually be his prime mover, and if the tactics that he approved of during his reign ever came out, it just might make waterboarding look like a walk in the park. In that case he would be in more serious trouble.

On a tangential note, Cheney's opposition to moving the people at Guantanamo to the mainland purportedly is because they are such a danger and can coordinate terrorist attacks from jail. It might be worthwhile pointing out that most of the people at Guantanamo either were not terrorists or of low rank and didn't coordinate anything even when running around loose. In addition, the narcos and Mafia dons that we have imprisoned on the mainland have been unable to run their fiefdoms from jail. Why should the Guantanamo prisoners be any different?

Posted by: Texas Aggie on May 23, 2009 at 2:52 PM | PERMALINK

Will Cheney's book be printed on a roll of tissue paper? Six copies for less than $2! This calls for a movement.

Posted by: anonymous on May 23, 2009 at 4:35 PM | PERMALINK

He's already mega-rich. And he's never given a rat's ass what people thought of him before. I think he's trying to avoid any legal action that may come during Obama's second term.
At least Cheney realizes he's evil. Bush still doesn't get it.

Posted by: chascates on May 23, 2009 at 5:06 PM | PERMALINK

Don't discount Cheney's disinclination to be wheeled into the Hague with a shawl on his knees, shaking his head and hands for that extra bit of pathos and mercy.

Posted by: nemesis on May 23, 2009 at 5:11 PM | PERMALINK

Who's going to pony up $29.95 for a book written by someone who routinely blurs the line between fact and fiction?

Ummmmm... maybe all the people who jumped on all the other books by right wing fantasists I see leaping off the shelves at my local Borders? (trust me, they really do, in Los Angeles)

Even Coulter's stuff still sells.

Like Barnum said: "there's a sucker born every minute."

Posted by: TCinLA on May 23, 2009 at 6:34 PM | PERMALINK

He doesn't need the book deal. He doesn't need the money. He's trying to stay out of jail.

Posted by: Slideguy on May 23, 2009 at 7:23 PM | PERMALINK

I tend to agree with Slideguy, but my medical crystal ball says.... Cheney only has three years left in that weak ticker of his.

Posted by: GDAEman on May 23, 2009 at 9:22 PM | PERMALINK

For Cheney, writing a book would mean making money the hard way.

I don't see that. He's rich already.

I agree with the above comment. He's trying to aquit himself in the court of public opinion.

He's quite aware, he's committed crimes.

He has no actual defense.

He's trying to make it politically atriocious to carry through his conviction.

I don't think he's succeeding on this point.

Posted by: Bub on May 24, 2009 at 1:23 AM | PERMALINK

$2 Mill. is small change for chieney. Plus he may be feeling that his heart might have given up the ghost by the time the book is out - or $2 Mill won't be worth much by then because of galloping inflation (caused by c's persecutors on the light side).

Why would he be so interested in jacking up his advance?
Prestige: he wants his advance to dwarf W's, now turned Mr. Taciturn. It's not enough for c. that W. is not having any luck finding a publisher - partially because most of the big names have no experience doing coloring books. He wants the size of his advance to kill both W's and Obama's (Mr. and Mrs.) and to be so gargantuan as to impress Oprah.
Or: c. fears that Osama bin Laden might get a larger contract. Prediction: c. is going to find an unbelievably generous publisher in Dubai who will agree to exclude Osama while putting out the mega bucks for c - one hand washing the other - with eau d'helliburton.

Posted by: JohnWFertippton on May 24, 2009 at 8:20 AM | PERMALINK

Who's going to pony up $29.95 for a book written by someone who routinely blurs the line between fact and fiction?

Um, the same people who put Ann Coulter's books on the bestseller list, with the help of bulk-buying.
Then another round of the Cheney lie-fest on every network.

Posted by: Allan Snyder on May 24, 2009 at 11:33 AM | PERMALINK



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