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Posts Tagged ‘Ben Smith’

The Political History of ‘Shuck and Jive’

Author and former Alaskan governor Sarah Palin earned angry responses this week for using the Facebook headline: “Obama’s Shuck and Jive Ends With Benghazi Lies.”

The phrase “shuck and jive” has an unfortunate history over the last few political seasons. Then New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo caused controversy in 2008 by using the phrase and White House press secretary Jay Carney drew criticism for employing the phrase in 2011.

In 2010, Stanford University Press published What Can You Say?: America’s National Conversation on Race, a scholarly look at our contemporary political conversation by anthropology professor John Hartigan Jr.. The book examined various definitions of “shuck and jive” that were cited during the Cuomo controversy. You can read an excerpt below, complete with links:

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Do You Think Simon & Schuster Really Cares If Paul Begala Hates Its #1 Bestseller?

obama-nation-cover.jpgActually, the question Leon Neyakh posed in yesterday’s Observer “Media Mob” blog was “Will Simon & Schuster have to answer for [Jerome] Corsi?” But it amounts to the same thing: Neyfakh picks up on a Ben Smith Politico post about how S&S “doesn’t seem to have suffered any collateral damage, or provoked public complaints from any of its prominent liberal authors,” after the publication of Corsi’s Obama Nation. So Smith chases down some of those “prominent liberal authors” and puts them on the spot—and, lo, Paul Begala, who’s publishing Third Term: Why George W. Bush ♥ John McCain with S&S next month, emails back that “Corsi deserves a thorough de-lousing.”

Of course, criticizing an author is nowhere near the same thing as criticizing his publisher, which you’ll notice Begala didn’t do—and, no, “I can assure you the folks at Threshold have had nothing to do with my upcoming book” doesn’t count. (Nor does having a spokesperson field Smith’s inquiries, which is how Hillary Clinton evaded the issue, especially when all it produces is a variant on Begala’s line.)

Neyfakh promises “more on this later in the week,” but we can spare you the anxiety: No serious liberal who has recently been paid, is currently being paid, or thinks he or she has halfway decent odds of being paid good money from Simon & Schuster is going to say anything genuinely negative about the company or anybody who works there except possibly Corsi’s editor, Mary Matalin. And that goes double for anybody who has Bob Barnett arranging their book deals. “Oh, that’s not my Simon & Schuster” is as harsh as it’s going to get, and Smith and Neyfakh will give this up by Friday at the latest to dedicate themselves to trying to peek inside Bob Woodward‘s book before the laydown date. If they haven’t already.

Any Fool Can Buy a Book, And Many Do

As you may have heard, I stopped reading your anonymous tips, but every once in a while Andy will forward one for my opinion, or I’ll go looking in my trash box for another message I accidentally deleted and something’ll catch my eye… Anyway, somebody felt a pressing need for a veil of secrecy to inform us that Politico blogger Ben Smith looked into the sales figures for Obama Nation, and according to Nielsen Bookscan, it shifted at least 40,000 copies last week—”vastly outstripp[ing] other recent political titles, notably books critical of John McCain.” Smith cites two recent books by David Brock and Matt Welch, neither of which achieved one-tenth of Jerome Corsi‘s popularity at the cash register.

Of course, if conservatives weren’t spending so much money on heavily-marketed books like Obama Nation and David Freddoso‘s The Case Against Barack Obama, they might have had a little more to give to their actual presidential candidate—but, as it happens, Obama raised nearly twice as much as McCain in July, $52 million to $27 million. It’s almost enough to make you wonder about their ability to set financial priorities.

Or maybe it’s just that conservatives are prone to the cult of personality when picking demons as well as heroes—or they attack people because they don’t have anything substantive to say about policy? The circumstantial evidence of the NY Times nonfiction bestseller lists would appear to suggest that liberal readers, on the other hand, are more interested in issues than candidate-bashing: Among the ten top-selling hardcovers, we find Ron Suskind‘s The Way of the World, Jane Mayer‘s The Dark Side, and Vincent Bugliosi‘s The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder—all of which appear to have become bestsellers without the artificial prop of bulk orders upon which Corsi and Freddoso have relied, along with (oddly enough) Tori Spelling.

(There’s also Dick Morris‘s Fleeced, but I think most of us have figured out by now that Morris’s ideology isn’t liberal or conservative, it’s whatever brand of populism is currently in fashion.)