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Contrasts

President Barack Obama gave the commencement address at Arizona State University tonight.  There was some controversy attached to this appearance -- the university refused to give him an honorary degree in addition to the honor of speaking, claiming that his "body of work was not yet complete" and that his achievements thus far didn't warrant the degree.  Obama turned the controversy on its head in what was a terrific address (I just finished watching it).  In the speech he actually agreed that his body of work wasn't done yet and that fancy titles don't mean as much as true achievement and the pursuit of aims that are larger than oneself.  It was humorous, it was a call to action and public service for the ASU graduates in attendance, and it was very well received.

It was also announced today that Harper-Collins, in its infinite wisdom, will pay Alaska Governor Sarah Palin a multi-million dollar advance for her "memoirs" (her "co-author" -- read "ghost writer" -- has not yet been selected, but there will be one, according to the Harper-Collins press release).  So, while President Obama has not yet achieved enough to earn an honorary degree from ASU, Sarah Palin has achieved enough to write a memoir for which a major publishing house will pay millions.  While Obama spent his evening exhorting a generation of graduates to acts of altruism and charity, Palin embarked on what will be an act of ego gratification, greed, and self-promotion.

I would find all of this laughable if it weren't so disturbing....

Comments

( 14 comments — Leave a comment )
sartorias
May. 14th, 2009 04:26 am (UTC)
I hope Harper loses their shirts on that stinker.
davidbcoe
May. 14th, 2009 02:55 pm (UTC)
I'm afraid they won't, but I'm right there with you, Sherwood.
shsilver
May. 14th, 2009 10:52 am (UTC)
While I agree with sartorius, I will point out that Palin's deal was negotiated by the same literary agent Obama used to get his deals for Dreams From My Father and The Audacity of Hope.
davidbcoe
May. 14th, 2009 03:02 pm (UTC)
I don't blame the agent, and I don't deny that Obama made a mint from his books, too. But there is a fundamental difference between Obama's books and Palin's. Obama's first book is about something -- it's far more than a personal memoir. It's about race and ethnicity and what it means to be the son of a black African and a white American from Kansas. It's about growing up in a country that has long had a difficult relationship with race and all its ramifications. His second book is more of a standard "I'm-running-for-President-so-I-gotta-write-a-book" thing. Every candidate has one. And maybe that's what Palin's is. But from the sound of it, she's not planning to lay out a blueprint for where she wants to take the country if, God forbid, she's elected President. This is "a personal memoir". She's younger than I am, for God's sake. She's done nothing but serve as Governor of Alaska and run a mean-spirited, thoroughly unsuccessful campaign for Vice President. This is tabloid literature at its worst.

That's my opinion, anyway....
scbutler
May. 14th, 2009 12:35 pm (UTC)
Can't wait to see it on the remainders table.
davidbcoe
May. 14th, 2009 03:02 pm (UTC)
Here's hoping, Sam.
markwise
May. 14th, 2009 12:39 pm (UTC)
I agree the ASU thing was handled well by Obama. He could have made a bigger stink about it if he wanted.

As far as Palin goes... how many millions of dollars and how much self promotion did Obama do with his two books/memoirs? And that when he was just a junior senator from IL.

I look forward to purchasing this book. :)
davidbcoe
May. 14th, 2009 03:05 pm (UTC)
Agreed, Obama made millions from his books and he hadn't done much more in the political arena than Palin. But as I comment above, his first book actually had something important to say about the world and about our country. And Obama wrote his books himself. She won't be writing hers.

I hope you enjoy the book. As long as she doesn't do an audio version I'll be happy. If I had to listen to her voice as she read several hundred pages, I'd throw myself off a tall building....
markwise
May. 14th, 2009 06:20 pm (UTC)
It could be possible that she is using a ghostwriter because as the sitting Governor of Alaska, she would be chastised for writing a book while still in office. People would say, "Why is she writing a book when she should be working?" If she was going to publish a book, this would be the best method.
davidbcoe
May. 14th, 2009 06:40 pm (UTC)
That's a good and fair point.
coppervale
May. 14th, 2009 08:11 pm (UTC)
Ah - so that's what was up.

I was at the speech. It was excellent. My wife disagrees with a lot of his administration's policies, but I told her the one thing I liked most about him wasn't what he's doing on a broad scale. It's that when he speaks, I come away from it wanting to be a better man. And so do a lot of others.
davidbcoe
May. 14th, 2009 08:55 pm (UTC)
Well put. I love listening to him speak. I like having a President who speaks to us like we're adults, who seeks to inspire and provoke thought rather than offering bromides and platitudes.
hedwig_snowy
May. 14th, 2009 08:16 pm (UTC)
Might get into trouble comparing her to Obama. Might be better to accept that her's will be more like Britney's and move on. People out there will buy it because they believe the media doesn't like her and they want to here the 'real' story of her life. Meh.

Like I said, Britney.
davidbcoe
May. 14th, 2009 08:55 pm (UTC)
Actually, I'd consider reading Britney's memoir....
( 14 comments — Leave a comment )

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