File Under: "Book Advances I Hope They Already Cashed"

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Oct. 24 2011 12:56 PM

File Under: "Book Advances I Hope They Already Cashed"

I'm about to go on MSNBC to talk about the 2012 candidates' books, which reminds me: Michele Bachmann's book is coming in one month.

Screen shot 2011-10-24 at 12.39.42 PM

Herman Cain's memoir was a #4 New York Times besteller; it was released as he surged. Newt Gingrich's most recent book, A Nation Like No Other, came out just as the first iteration of his campaign was shuddering and collapsing; as of September, it had tracked a mere 5,000 sales on Nielsen BookScan. What is Bachmann going to get from a book that comes out 1) five weeks before the Iowa caucus and 2) several months after her campaign fell out of the lead in that state, the only one where she ever had a chance? It will stimulate the following markets:

1) Liberal blogs and news sites, which can tear into the book for anecdotes and things that make Bachmann sound crazy.

2) Minnesota reporters, who can debunk the stuff that Bachmann lies about.

3) Bachmann's fading brand, which she obviously cares about. (She did not cast any votes in Congress from August 1 to October 12, spending the time on the campaign trail instead.) In order to maintain the brand she can't drop out of the race before the end of November. Why not? If there's a small audience for this book now, how small will it be if she continues downsizing staff and skulks back into her House office? No: One last burst of free media about the people lining up to see her is just what she needs to manufacture a late campaign boomlet, timed to a possible explosion of the Herman Cain bubble.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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