According to various reports last week, the State Department spent $70,000 on copies of Barack Obama’s three lauded literary masterpieces (Dreams from My Father, The Audacity of Hope and Of Thee I Sing) to stock library shelves or to pass out as Christmas presents from U.S. embassies. The administration claims the book distribution helps to “broker talks on important foreign policy matters.” That especially makes sense as a defense of Of Thee I Sing, which just happens to be a children’s book (although, to be fair, royalties on that book go to charity).
Supposedly, the White House had no knowledge of the State Department decision to spend taxpayer dollars on purchases that personally benefit Obama. (As one writer put it, “You pay … Obama reaps the royalties.“) Sheesh, not a lot of communication goes on in the Obama administration, does it?
But Obama can’t claim to be ignorant now — unless he, like his AG Eric Holder, doesn’t read his own correspondence. Republican Rep. Dave Schweikert of Arizona yesterday sent a letter to the president to tell him to knock it off. Wrote Schweikert:
At a time of record deficits and a heightened need to cut government spending, it is clear that spending taxpayer money in this manner is inappropriate.
Furthermore, as with any book deal, there is no doubt some level of royalties paid to you for each copy purchased by the government. Receiving royalties from government purchases of your book is exactly the type of out-of-touch Washington behavior that the American people are weary of and will no longer tolerate.
We request that you instruct all agencies to no longer purchase copies of your books and remit a payment to the Treasury Department for any royalties received as a result of these sales.
Here are a few reasons not to be too worked up about this story: (1) $70,000 is chump change in the federal budget, (2) At best, Obama probably received something like $6,000 in royalties from taxpayer-funded purchases and (3) The more people read Dreams from my Father, the more they’re exposed to the roots of Obama’s rage.
Still, the reason to be worked up trumps them: As American Values president Gary Bauer put it, it’s a prime example of ethics blindness. In other words, it’s the principle of the matter. The administration has violated it — and Schweikert seeks to uphold it. Thank you, Rep. Schweikert.