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Books by and about 2012 presidential nominees
Do Not Ask What Good We Do
about Rep. Paul Ryan (2012)
The Path to Prosperity
by Rep. Paul Ryan (2012)
Ten Letters
about Pres. Barack Obama (2011)
A Life of Trial and Redemption
about V.P. Joe Biden (2010)
No Apology
by Gov. Mitt Romney (2010)
Young Guns
by Rep. Paul Ryan et al (2010)
The Path to Prosperity
by Rep. Paul Ryan (2012)
Promises to Keep
by Vice Pres. Joe Biden (2007)
The Audacity of Hope
by Pres. Barack Obama (2006)
by Gov. Mitt Romney (2004)
Dreams from My Father
by Pres. Barack Obama (1996)

Book Reviews

(from Amazon.com)

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Lamar Alexander's Little Plaid Book:
311 Rules, Reminders, and Lessons About Running for Office and Making a Difference

by Lamar Alexander

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BOOK REVIEW by OnTheIssues.org:

Lamar Alexander is currently the Senior Senator from Tennessee (since 2003; and just re-elected in November 2014), and he also served as Governor of Tennessee from 1979 to 1987, and then in the Cabinet as Secretary of Education from 1991 to 1993 (under the first President Bush). But this book is about his 1996 presidential campaign; it's written in 1998, shortly after he lost to the nominee Bob Dole (but also losing to Pat Buchanan and Steve Forbes, and barely beating Alan Keyes).

The title of the book refers to the most memorable aspect of Senator Alexander's presidential campaign: his plaid shirt. He was renowned for wearing a red-and-black plaid shirt at almost all campaign events. As Alexander describes it: "The shirt became the trademark of a winning, grass-roots campaign" (p. 7), which he first did in his gubernatorial campaign in 1978. His presidential supports in 1996 became known as "the plaid brigade" (p. 9). Alexander comments on the memorableness of the plaid shirt in his 1996 campaign, "I'm afraid that many people remembered my shirt more than they did my message" (p. 10).

Hence the plaid pattern adorns the cover of this book. But the grass-roots symbolism pervades its contents too: it feels like a homespun, grassroots homily. The book is intended as an advice book for political candidates, drawing from lessons learned on the campaign trail (p. 3). The advice is in the form of numbered notes, from 1 to 152 (there is a larger edition with 311 rules; our excerpts come from the 152-rule edition).

We at OnTheIssues care more for the parts of the book about issue stances, of which the book contains some. As far as advice for candidates goes, this book is tolerable; it outlines the basic necessities (staying in touch with your constituents; advertising locally; knowing the price of daily commodities) and some big-picture advice too. Evidently Alexander wanted to position himself as an "elder statesman" with this book -- the former candidate to whom new candidates went for advice when they wanted to start a campaign. But Alexander returned to the campaign trail in 2002, to win his current Senate seat, and to which he was handily re-elected to a third term in 2014. It is possible Alexander will run for president again, in which case this book will become an instant classic -- but it looks more like his time on the national stage has passed. The book serves as a memorial to a true grassroots Republican rather than having become a standard campaign reference.

-- Jesse Gordon, jesse@OnTheIssues.org, Dec. 2014
 OnTheIssues.org excerpts:  (click on issues for details)

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The above quotations are from Lamar Alexander's Little Plaid Book:
311 Rules, Reminders, and Lessons About Running for Office and Making a Difference

by Lamar Alexander.

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Page last edited: Jan 12, 2015