On April 13, the U.K.’s Guardian breathlessly broke a piece of presidential news: It had obtained a copy of Jill Biden’s biography, which was set to be released April 19, and it turned out she felt deep resentment for “all these men” pushing him to run in 2020.
“All these men — and they were mostly men — coming to our home,” she said in the book, according to the Guardian. “You know, ‘You’ve got to run, you’ve got to run.’ I wanted no part of it.”
“I didn’t even know whether I wanted Joe to ever do it again,” she added, speaking to co-authors Julie Pace and Darlene Superville, both journalists with The Associated Press. “I mean, I had been so burned.”
If Dr. Jill Biden, Ed.D., thought she’d been burned before, wait until she saw the sales charts.
According to a Friday Politico article, once “Jill: A Biography of the First Lady” was released, only 250 people followed the Guardian’s lead and obtained a copy of their own. There’s no zero missing there. Only 250 people — less than could comfortably fit at a book signing at a medium-sized Barnes & Noble — had actually bought a copy of the book in the first week it was out.
This was, to Politico’s Max Tani, a Good Thing for the administration.
The revelation came as part of Tani’s piece, titled “The Rise and Fall of the Star White House Reporter.” The basic gist of it was that, while the regular White House media briefing was a full-contact affair during President Donald Trump’s years, the media is nowhere near as willing to play bloodsports with anyone in Biden’s orbit.
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News about Jill Biden’s book flop was published in left-leaning Politico, however, which means the poor sales of the book were burnished as evidence the Biden administration is doing its job.
Would you read Jill Biden’s biography?
Yes: 0% (0 Votes)
No: 0% (0 Votes)
Thus, even though the official biography was written “by two well-respected Associated Press journalists” and sold a quarter of a thousand units in one week on the market, that’s a net plus.
“For the vast majority of Americans, and even plenty of people in Washington, it’s all been a relief — the minute-by-minute churn of presidential politics is no longer so omnipresent and existential in their lives,” Tani wrote.
I’m not certain what poll Tani is citing when he posits the “vast majority of Americans” prefer the allegedly boring politics of the Biden administration, or even that they’re being bored. However, he’s certain “what is happening is the fulfillment of a central Biden promise. Running for office against Donald Trump — the most theatrical, attention-seeking, Beltway-panic-inducing president in living memory — he pledged to make Washington news boring again.”
“And, well, mission accomplished sir.”
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has created the most significant possibility of nuclear conflict since the end of the Cold War. Inflation is at record highs.
We have bitter battles over what COVID restrictions ought to remain on the books. The border crisis is set to explode — again — and yet, the Department of Homeland Security seems more concerned about setting up a dystopian-sounding “Disinformation Governance Board.”
Perhaps most importantly for this example, the president’s poll numbers remain historically low, with many voters expressing doubt he’s mentally capable of doing the job. This is the “boring” state of Washington news.
But a book about the first lady by two AP writers — thus giving it the imprimatur of being something more than a puff piece — sold about 250 copies in its first week. That’s roughly 249 more than the people at the Guardian obtained. Whatever your guess as to the number of copies it sold was, I can guarantee it was still too high.
To put this into perspective: “Jill: A Biography of the First Lady” sits at number 17,386 on the Amazon sales charts as of Monday morning. Even in women’s biographies, it’s not doing so hot: number 345.
To put that into perspective, here’s what’s beating it on the top 100 in women’s biographies: former first lady Michelle Obama’s autobiography, an autobiography by actress and cooking-show star Valerie Bertinelli, a memoir by actress and comedian Molly Shannon, a “memoiresque” work by comedian Tina Fey book (two “Saturday Night Live” stars!), a 7-year-old book about the “wisdom of French parenting,” a 10-year-old book about author Franz Kafka’s lover and comedian Amy Schumer’s 5-year-old tome, “The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo.”
Former White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany’s memoir is beating it, even though it’s several months old. A memoir by the late former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright is also ahead of it in the sales numbers.
The Biden administration is doing so well at making itself boring that America would rather read about Valerie Bertinelli than about the first lady of the United States. That’s really where we’re going with this?
The real, ugly reason White House media briefings are boring is mostly because the mainstream media reporters make them boring, shying away from difficult questions even when there are plenty of them.
Then a White House reporter congratulates the Biden administration on making politics so boring because “the vast majority of Americans” allegedly want them that way — even though we’re playing with nuclear war and the economy is a shambles.
Americans all so thrilled to be bored that Biden’s average approval rating in the Gallup poll between January and April was the second-lowest ever recorded since the 1950s, at 41.3 percent, and the Democrats are set to be shellacked in the midterms. If the policy of strategic boredom is being perfectly played, as Max Tani says it is, it’s time to look for a new strategy.
However, I’d argue the reason only 250 people are willing to buy a Jill Biden biography isn’t apathy but antipathy, and that’s not an emotion birthed from boredom. Nice try, though.