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Late Night: The Mark of Failure

Mark Salter receiving accolades from Keith Olbermann

Hopefully, you’ve been too busy in recent weeks following real news — like the ongoing events in Egypt — to have heard about someone’s lame attempt to relive the Clinton years by writing a gossipy pseudo-biographical novel about Barack Obama.

If your awareness was inadvertently cluttered by this information, though, you can take some comfort in the news that the book appears to be bombing miserably:

“O: A Presidential Novel” … failed to make The New York Times’s top 35 hardcover fiction list. And USA Today reports “O” didn’t even chart on its list of the nation’s top 400 best selling books.

“O” sold only 2,000 copies nationwide, according Nielsen BookScan.

Adding to the schadenfreude over the novel’s sales flop is the growing certainty about the identity of its author: Mark Salter, former speechwriter for Sen. John McCain and the man widely credited for manufacturing McCain’s public image as an honor-driven maverick.  (The titles of the books Salter ghostwrote co-wrote with McCain, again if you’ve been blessed enough not to know about them:  Why Courage Matters, Faith Of My Fathers, Worth the Fighting For, Character is Destiny, and Hard Call: Great Decisions and the Extraordinary People Who Made Them. Yes, you can puke now.)

Of course, there’s nothing honorable about writing a bitchy, revenge-fueled fantasy.  And even less to do so and then pretend you didn’t write it, hiding behind weaselly non-denial denials.  (Hint to Salter:  Those non-denials would be more convincing if you hadn’t used the same editor/publisher as for the McCain books, and let it be known after the 2008 election that you were going to “try [your] hand at writing fiction.”)

But then, as Bill “Book of Virtues” Bennett might have told Salter — in between slot-machine benders at casinos — when you’re a Republican, there’s no need to live up to those values you pretend to champion when you’re writing op-eds or speeches, or preening in front of cable TV cameras.  The bottom line is all about creating a brand, not an actual quality product.

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Swopa has been sharing prescient, if somewhat anal-retentive, analysis and garden-variety mockery with Internet readers since 1995 or so, when he began debunking the fantasies of Clinton-scandal aficionados on Usenet. He is currently esconced as the primary poster at Needlenose (