By ANDIE COLLER | 10/14/09 5:03 AM EDT
For Republicans looking forward to the first Bush-free election in a decade, the book publishing schedule is the bearer of bad news: Between New Year’s Day and next November, as many as five Bush administration officials — including the former president himself — will rehash history in hardback.
The literary luge ride down memory lane shoves off with a return to the economic collapse via former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson’s “On the Brink: Inside the Race to Stop the Collapse of the Global Financial System,” due out from Business Plus in January.
Former first lady Laura Bush’s White House memoir tees up next, expected from Scribner in the spring.
Former President George W. Bush’s own book, tentatively titled “Decision Points,” will follow in the fall from Random House’s Crown Publishing and will recount a dozen pivotal choices Bush faced and how he made them — a trip back to the days of “the decider” that’s bound to spark talk of what it omits as much as what it contains.
A candid chronicle from former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld — who told The AP that his Iraq war years would “certainly” be covered in his manuscript — is also expected to hit the shelves in the autumn, published by Penguin’s Sentinel imprint.
And onetime White House chief strategist Karl Rove’s book is also reportedly due out in 2010, although his publisher, Threshold Editions, a conservative imprint of Simon & Schuster headed by Republican strategist Mary Matalin, would not confirm that date.
Nor would Threshold Editions confirm the widely reported 2011 release date for former Vice President Dick Cheney’s memoir, which promises to be the most controversial of the lot — and Matalin could not be reached for comment on whether the decision to release the book after the midterm elections was a strategic one.
The literary look back will be supplemented by other reminders, large and small, of the Bush era, from the groundbreaking for the George W. Bush library, also scheduled for the fall (although right now that’s likely to be in November, presumably after Election Day), to the outcome of the Justice Department’s CIA interrogation probe currently under way.
The question is: What effect, if any, will all of this have on voters’ perceptions of the two parties and their candidates?
The Democrats’ reaction was not hard to predict.
“The more flashbacks of the Bush era we have, the more people will be reminded about the huge mess that Barack Obama and the Democrats inherited,” says Maryland Rep. Chris Van Hollen, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. “So it will remind them of why they voted for change and remind them of why they don’t want to turn back the clock.”
Democratic National Committee spokesman Hari Sevugan agrees. “This will only serve to further emphasize what they continue to see from the Republican Party, which is more of the same,” he says.
“To tweak a phrase, it’s come to a point where it’s fair to say, ‘If it’s Sunday, it’s Dick Cheney.’”
The Bush montage plays right into the hands of Democrats, says Democratic strategist Douglas Schoen, who predicts that the midterm elections will be a battle between those who will try to make it a belated referendum on the Bush administration and those who will try to make it a premature referendum on the Obama administration.