It’s good to be Senator Barack Obama right now. The cover of Time is fresh in everyone’s memory; his will-he-run-or-won’t-he status means the personal attacks haven’t started yet; and come next Sunday, Obama’s book — The Audacity of Hope — will top the Times Best Sellers List. (Hey, we still believe in an audacity called hope.) The book, published by Crown and released October 17, has already moved 182,000 copies in hardcover and is now in seventh printing. That places it on the list ahead of Bob Woodward, Bill O’Reilly (who’ll probably have something to say about that), and John Grisham, in his foray into nonfiction. Even the Times itself cautiously calls it “something of a publishing stunner.”
It’s even more stunning for a book by a politician. Trent Lott’s book, Herding Cats, sold fewer copies than an actual cat-herding manual might (11,000), and Jesse Helms’s defiantly titled Here’s Where I Stand sold 3,000 (leaving the precise location he’s standing a mystery to the wide public). Of course, Senator Obama still has yet to face his most formidable opponent: New York’s own Hillary Clinton. And by this we mean, of course, that her Living History has sold 1.2 million copies. What else would we mean?