Sunday, May 21, 2006

The Fruit Doesn't Fall Far from the Tree

Sister Nancy Beth Eczema, our favorite gender-enhanced beautician from West Hollywood, pulls out of her oven a perfectly baked laudation for Mary Cheney and her new book Now It's My Turn:
I also find strength in Family -- the Cheney family, to be exact. Dick & Lynne's tortured acceptance of their daughter's perverted lifestyle is matched only by Mary's willingness to earn their qualified and conditional love by selling her lesbo friends up the river. I can't think of a more healing model for Our fractured Party to follow than this, so let's all give thanks to The Lord for Mary's recent book deal which Illuminated all of this.
That book deal--reportedly a $1 million advance--has had a number of people scratching their heads over the past year. Judged purely and amorally as a business decision, this arrangement doesn't make much sense.

Who is the market? Most gays and lesbians wouldn't touch a book from someone who betrayed them for a million gold pieces made even more shiny by a few crocodile tears. Most members of Bush-Cheney's dwindling base have no interest in reading a book by a prominent lesbian who only recently announced her opposition to the so-called Defense of Marriage Act. And it's not like her father is all that popular. As C. M. Nevius notes, "She's offended almost everyone," while Wayne Besen says, "Like her father's misbegotten war in Iraq, Mary Cheney's book is backfiring."

To earn back that advance, Cheney's 300-page novella ("ready-to-serve-as-fish-wrapper", quips Pam Spaulding) is going to have to sell half a million copies. To break even for Simon & Schuster, the book needs to find a strong place near the top of the national best-seller lists, but (so far) the first printing of 175,000 copies doesn't seem to be going anywhere. And, despite a steady stream of appearances the past couple of weeks with the likes of Diane Sawyer, Larry King, David Letterman, and Chris Wallace, its current Amazon rank is 964 (which is nearly as high as I've seen it).

This potential bomb poses a problem for Mary Matlin, who will start off Threshold Books, the new conservative imprint from Simon & Schuster, with a hefty deficit. And it doesn't look like there are many books on the horizon that will help replenish that shortfall:
Future Threshold books will include "What's the Matter With California?" by conservative writer Jack Cashill, a conservative response to "What's the Matter With Kansas?," Thomas Frank's liberal lament about how Republicans have won over previously Democratic voters in states such as Kansas; "Onward Christian Soldiers" by Deal Hudson, about the political power of Catholics and evangelical Christians; and "Hunting Zarqawi" by Richard Miniter, about the leader of the Iraqi insurgency.
Geez--if that's the cream of the crop, I can't wait to see the chaff. Matlin "admits she knows little about the nuts and bolts of the book world." I suspect she's about to find out exactly how little she does know.

For their part, I guess the Cheney family felt they had not made enough money from their 433,333 shares of unexercised stock options in Halliburton, whose stock value has nearly quadrupled since the start of the Iraq War. That's some inheritance for Mary and her sister.

But what I still can't figure out is the answer to the question posed by John Aravosis at AmericaBlog: "So why exactly did Simon & Schuster reportedly pay the daughter of the vice president $1 million dollars?"