The Corner

Author President?

Jonah, the Garrison Keillor comment you cite is really an astonishing display of ignorance and puppy love, of the sort I suppose we should now expect from the cult of Obama. Obama is “our first genuine author-president”? He has written two books about himself, the second of which was a campaign book of the sort that lots of office seekers churn out. Have we grown so postmodern that an autobiography makes you a genuine author but an enduring work of political thought and history, or a five-volume history of the American people, or a biography of George Washington, or a four-volume retelling of the conquest of the West, or a renowned history of the war of 1812, or a biography of Gouverneur Morris, or reflections on American individualism somehow don’t? There are LOTS of examples of pre-presidential books by men who would be presidents, and some are truly excellent and lasting books. Obama’s first autobiography is an interesting and well written book worth reading, but it is very far from a first.

Yuval Levin is the director of social, cultural, and constitutional studies at the American Enterprise Institute and the editor of National Affairs.


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