My post about Obama’s book deal pissed of a lot of people. I said he shouldn’t have accepted a $1.9 million advance on a book deal (from a German media conglomerate) because politicians accepting money outside of their salary breeds public distrust.
I was not accusing him of accepting a bribe. I don’t for a minute think it was a bribe. But I do think it sets a poor example. Several said he needs to money to get by in Washington. Others say he earned the huge advance because he already wrote one best-selling book. So let me point out that if he already has a best-selling book out there, then he doesn’t need more money to live in Washington. He is going to be very busy as a freshman Senator, but is now obligated to write two books.
Look at the example set by Terry McAuliffe – not even an elected official. How much of his good work was undercut by the millions he made from telecom stock (for which he paid only $100K)? More to the point, how much of our criticism of Republicans for their part of the telecom and Enron stock frauds was undercut by it. Directly to the point: We certainly can’t criticize any Republican politicians for taking money now, can we?
Here’s a role model for politicians: Jerry Brown. Elected California Governor in 1974, Brown refused to stay in the Governor’s mansion and slept in a rented apartment, on a mattress on the floor. He refused to use the Governor’s limousine and drove around in a state-owned Plymouth.
Update – It is against the rules of the House of Representatives for members to accept advances for book deals. The Congressional Accountability Project is trying to get the Senate to follow. Regarding Obama’s advance:
A Congressional watchdog group still raised questions about the deal, noting that Crown Publishers is owned by Bertelsmann AG, a publishing, music and broadcasting giant with interests before Congress. “There’s a large potential conflict of interest here,” said Gary Ruskin, of the Congressional Accountability Project. “What’s happening is that the enormous media conglomerate Bertelsmann AG is putting a huge check in the pocket of senator- elect Obama for no work done.”