Which Candidate Has The Worst Book Cover?

Patrick Howley Political Reporter
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Ever hear the old adage “Don’t judge a book by its cover”? In the publishing business, that’s a pretty bad way to think.

With that in mind, the first major presidential straw poll is already under way: Which candidate has the worst book cover? Now, let’s be honest. However you feel about a politician, you have to admit that their books are almost uniformly terrible. We get politician books for free at our newsroom and we mostly use them to build tree forts or to trip Alex Pappas.

The candidates don’t write the books themselves, they just print a bunch of insipid talking points padded out to an excruciating 200 pages, and then BOOM, New York Times bestseller list. In other words, professional writers, go to Hell. Nobody in politics or publishing has any regard for what you do. Books are about how serious-looking you can cross your arms on the cover.

Below we give out the 2016 presidential book Tonys (a rating scale we use to judge how closely each book cover comes to Tony Robbins-level awful). Images via Amazon.com.

Hillary Clinton:

It’s hard to imagine anyone looking more uncomfortable while turning their head right to look at a camera, but here she is. Clinton’s open contempt for the photographer gets her point across. When book shoppers need to be scolded (and they totally do) they can simply pass by the Nonfiction Hardcover aisle to have a woman glare condescendingly at them. Is she disappointed in you? Open the book and find out. It’s just like going to your great-aunt’s house the week after you drop out of college!

For some reason, the age-conscious Clinton campaign didn’t want to recycle the title of her last book: “Living History.” Four Tonys (out of five).

Marco Rubio

Interesting graphic. He’s got his jacket off and sleeves rolled up, hands on hips, so you can tell he’s about to get down to some business. But he’s also smiling vaguely and has the words “American Dreams” across his chest and a vast, soaring cloudy blue sky behind him, so he’s throwing it all at the wall.

I don’t know, man. Probably not something I’d do a thesis on, but I might get a copy for a male relative last minute at the airport store. Three Tonys.

Jeb Bush

Did he even release this book? Who bought this? Did he take the picture while feeling bloated after a Goldman Sachs dinner? These are all valid questions.

Judging by the solid gray background, it looks like he sent some illegal immigrants down to print it off at Kinko’s then gave it out as a parting gift to various people he was firing. Five Tonys!

Ted Cruz: 

This one works. The jacket is badass, the shirt looks good, and the title calls for “Truth” while other people are just writing about “leadership lessons” or whatever like they’re at a corporate retreat where you have to do trust falls. Two Tonys.

Carly Fiorina

Literally the last thing I want to do is hear about some business executive’s “Leadership Journey.” Fiorina has been through a lot in her personal life, which is admirable, but can’t she make it look more interesting? Call it “I Beat Breast Cancer and Now I’ll Beat Hillary!” or “Fighting and Beer” or something. I don’t know. I mean, what does she have to lose?

Same pose as Hillary’s, because apparently it was Picture Day at the Iowa state fair. Four Tonys.

Scott Walker

The “Unintimidated” branding is refreshing. Kind of an odd sitting-down, showing-his-lap picture, though. And they couldn’t get a better pull quote than George F. Will saying “[A] nonfiction thriller”? Two Tonys.

Rand Paul

Can you take a stand and also unite? Moving beyond partisan politics? Blue striped tie, looking off into the distance…

I don’t know. Three Tonys.

Ben Carson

For the grownups, arms crossed and serious.

But for the kids, sleeves rolled up and inviting.

Four Tonys.

Mike Huckabee

Mike Huckabee was an effective governor and he’s a tough campaigner with a solidly conservative record. But he’s literally the reason we did this article. His book covers are egregiously dumb. It’s one thing to market yourself as a populist. It’s another thing to churn out double-spaced pabulum that makes “Fifty Shades of Grey” look like Graham Greene. A glance at his bibliography makes it unclear if he’s a politician or a mascot for Cracker Barrel. Come on, Huck. You can do better. (Five Tonys).

Ironically, Huckabee wrote one of the only serious and probably-good books that a politician has ever written, co-authoring a book called “Kids Who Kill” about the crisis in American youth in 1998, a full year before Columbine. But that’s before presidential politics and its insipid publishing business snared him.

Does anyone know “12 inspiring leadership lessons” that can get him to write something not-lame again?

In conclusion:

Best cover: Ted Cruz

Worst cover: Sorry Hilldog and Huckabee. This one belongs to Jeb.

Anyone inspired yet?

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