By Alan S. Chartock
Everybody knows you can’t run for president without writing a book. As my mom used to say, “They’re all doing it now.” Many of the new political books are about Andrew Cuomo. In fact, Cuomo himself is writing a book, and a New York Post columnist and a writer for Vanity Fair are each writing a book about Cuomo.
The Vanity Fair version has the best chance of being the real thing. For their part, Team Cuomo has been saying they will “cooperate” with the guy from the Post who has been very, very nice to the governor. Team Cuomo has been hinting they might cooperate with the Vanity Fair guy, who is closest to real critical journalism.
It sounds to me like the price of such gubernatorial cooperation might be an “understanding” about how tough the book will be. These things are never put in words, and I would be the last person in the world to suggest that a quid pro quo might be at work here.
If I wrote a book about Cuomo, it would not be about Cuomo. There’s just too much competition. I don’t think Team Cuomo likes me and I am quite sure they wouldn’t cooperate. I once wrote a very complimentary book about Mario Cuomo; very few people read it.
Nope, the way to do it is to write a thinly disguised novel. You could begin with the usual Law & Order-type disclosure making it quite clear that “this book has absolutely nothing to do with any governor living or dead.” The main character’s name might be Anthony. It would have lots of sex and tales of old and new lovers. It would chronicle a huge political divorce that rips two of the dynastic families in the country asunder.
It would show Gov. Anthony to be a loving father who does anything he can for his three lovely daughters. It would show Anthony on the phone daily with his dad, the family patriarch and former governor to whom he was so devoted to he would do anything to further his father’s place in history. A familiar line from the older Cuomo to the younger might be, “Now Anthony, you’ve got to get that guy before he gets you.”
Obviously there would have to be side plots. There would be the U.S. senator who incurred the governor’s wrath because she didn’t fall in line. There would be the former senator, now secretary of state, who had the best chance to put a stop to Anthony’s chance to be president. She would make the ambitious governor crazy.
The novel would chronicle the governor’s chief strategist who went around threatening those who would not go along. He would be heard saying, “We have two speeds: go along or death.” Obviously, you’d have to include at least three of the top legislative leaders. These would include the wily, brilliant Democratic speaker; the silver-haired Republican who owed everything to Anthony, a Democrat who had saved his hash; and a bitter black Democratic Senate minority leader who, but for Anthony’s intervention on behalf of the Republicans, would have been the leader of the Senate.
Of course, there would be the back-room real estate moguls who funded a political action committee to do the young governor’s bidding. They would chuckle that they had a Democrat who was really a closet Republican and they would throw obscene amounts of money into keeping the young governor in power. They would spend more money than any other influence-peddling group.
Naturally, there would have to a beautiful heroine, probably a television anchor who desperately loved our hero and who ended up, after living with him for years, marrying him just before he ran for president so the voters in Kansas would go along. In the background would be a former president who hugged young Anthony when he saw him but kept putting his wife, now the secretary of state, into the catbird seat and urging her to run for president—with her numbers, she couldn’t lose. There would be lots of telephone dialogue between the white-haired ex-president and young Anthony.
That’s just for starters! Once the book comes out, a movie would be inevitable. If you’re an agent out there and like this idea, give me a call.
Alan S. Chartock is president and CEO of WAMC/Northeast Public Radio and an executive publisher at The Legislative Gazette.
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