Wednesday, November 10, 2004


The Posts, Washington and New York, have articles on the likelihood of Barack Obama's writing book on public policy and getting some serious coin -- and controversy! -- for it.

Washington Post:
Senator-elect Barack Obama (D-Ill.) hasn't even moved to town yet and already he's in cahoots with literary super-lawyer Robert Barnett about a book. Or two. Not about his campaign -- but rather, we hear, about public policy.

Obama's autobiography, "Dreams From My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance," written more than a decade ago, was reissued this summer and became a bestseller. Evidently he now wants to cash in on his newfound popularity: The Chicago Sun-Times earlier this week mentioned a possible advance "ranging from $500,000 to $1 million depending on the details of the deal." The married father of two has admitted to having concerns about making it in Washington on his $158,100 salary. (He pointed out Monday that he is a "member of the smallest caucus in the Senate -- the non-millionaires caucus.")

Obama's spokesman told us yesterday his boss hasn't signed a book deal and "nothing's been done that would give anyone figures yet." Barnett offered a blandly typical response: "I'm proud to be representing the senator-elect. He's a real hero to many of us and has a fabulous political future." Translation: money in the bank.
New York Post:
Barack Obama, new hotshot on the political scene, has been gifted with more than just Divine Grace. How's a hefty share of killer smarts?

Go back maybe 15 years. New York literary agent Jane Dystel reads he's Harvard Law Review's first black president. She reaches out. She suggests a book. Nobody knows him, so nobody cares. She hustles and finally pushes "Dreams From My Father" onto a publisher. The deal somehow becomes undone and she's obliged to peddle the manuscript twice. Its subsequent sales prove minimal.

Fade in, fade out. The guy's moving. He gets noticed. Gets the star spot at the Democratic National Convention. Gets elected senator from Illinois. His book gets reissued. Now it's selling. Result? Before the election, this brand-new nova and his longtime agent execute an agreement to do more deals. Dystel nails contracts for two future Obama books. One's "What I Believe" — his philosophies; stuff he lives by. The other is, so far, undefined.

However, Barack Obama now realizes who he is. He now understands where he is. He never gets around to signing with the publisher. Too busy. He's doing interviews. Signing autographs. On TV. Campaigning. Climbing. He'll handle this as soon as he can.

Meanwhile, what he was handling was a switch to the Clintons' book agent, attorney Robert Barnett. Washington's cocktail circuit is whispering that the intermediary was Vernon Jordan. Barnett's connected. Up to his assets in political expertise and Rolodex cards, all of which this new kid on the block, who sees himself as a future president after Hillary, wants to glom onto.

Everyone's staying polite but — trust mother, kiddies. This one could be lawyers up the kazoo.
I'll bet Oneman will just love that second story.

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