Guy Benson

Presented without comment, via the Washington Times:
 

The State Department has bought more than $70,000 worth of books authored by President Obama, sending out copies as Christmas gratuities and stocking “key libraries” around the world with “Dreams from My Father” more than a decade after its release.  The U.S. Embassy in Egypt, for instance, spent $28,636 in August 2009 for copies of Mr. Obama's best-selling 1995 memoir. Six weeks earlier, the embassy had placed another order for the same book for more than $9,000, federal purchasing records show.  About the same time, halfway around the world, the U.S. Embassy in South Korea had the same idea and spent more than $6,000 for copies of “Dreams from My Father.”  One month later, the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta, Indonesia, spent more than $3,800 for hardcover copies of the Indonesian version of Mr. Obama's “The Audacity of Hope,” records show.

A review of the expenditures in a federal database did not reveal any examples of State Department purchases of books by former Presidents George W. Bush or Bill Clinton. The purchases of Mr. Obama's literary work mostly, but not always, took place in the months after Mr. Obama captured the White House.  Leslie Paige, a spokeswoman for Citizens Against Government Waste, a watchdog group, said if the federal government is looking to cut costs, eliminating purchases of Mr. Obama's books is a good place to start.


That last sentence could be the understatement of the year.  And what would "key libraries" do without hundreds of copies of this president's autobiographies, purchased at taxpayer expense?  Spin away, State Department spokesperson:
 

State Department spokesman Noel Clay said the book purchases followed regular government procurement rules. He said diplomats have long used books as a way to help broker talks on important foreign-policy matters. “The structure and the presidency of the United States is an integral component of representing the United States overseas,” Mr. Clay said. “We often use books to engage key audiences in discussions of foreign policy.”  He also said books are purchased to stock the State Department's “information resource centers,” which he said are located around the world and provide books about U.S. coverage of issues such as culture, history and values.  “We also provide key library collections with books about the United States,” he said.


Does President Obama stand to profit from taxpayers' unwitting munificence?  You bet:
 

Mr. Obama has earned far more writing books than he has earned holding government office. He reported from $1 million to $5 million in royalties in 2010 for “Dreams from My Father,” and between $100,001 and $1 million in royalties for “The Audacity of Hope.”  If he earned 10 percent royalties on roughly $60,000 in purchases of his books by the State Department, excluding the children's book, he could expect to pocket $6,000. It's a tiny slice of Mr. Obama's overall earnings, though still a sizable chunk to most Americans, whose median household income in 2009 was just over $50,000.


If this story gets enough traction, I'm sure Obama will pledge to donate all the proceeds to charity.  (Hint hint, Joe Biden).  But that's not the point.  The point is that the Obama State Department is just as infatuated with Barack Obama as Barack Obama seems to be.  His life story -- indeed, his mere existence -- is so important to international relations that thousands of copies of his distilled brilliance were deemed to be necessary tools to help influence foreign leaders* and populations.  Incredible.  Oh, and in case you've forgotten, we've seen this brand of narcissism before.  I'll leave you with a call-back to last night: #WeCantWait to have more of our hard-earned money spent on translating Barack Obama's books into Turkish.


*Perhaps US negotiators could have used a signed edition or two of Dreams From My Father to help arrange a more responsible Iraq troop withdrawal plan than the "bungled" mess they've forged.  Or maybe the man himself could have shown any interest in the matter -- I mean, he is our Commander-In-Chief, and everything:
 

Throughout the summer and autumn, as talks on a continued U.S. military presence in Iraq foundered, President Barack Obama and his point man on Iraq, Vice President Joe Biden, remained aloof from the process, not even phoning top Iraqi officials to help reach a deal, according to logs released by the U.S. Embassy here.

The omission is an unusual one, given the high priority that U.S. officials had given to achieving an agreement for some sort of residual U.S. presence in Iraq after the Dec. 31 pullout deadline set in a 2008 pact between the two countries. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and other senior Pentagon officials spoke often about the need for an agreement in a pivotal country in a volatile region and insisted talks were continuing up until Friday, when Obama announced that all U.S. troops would be coming home before the end of December…


Read the whole thing.  It's an unmitigated disgrace.


Guy Benson

Guy Benson is Townhall.com's Senior Political Editor. Follow him on Twitter @guypbenson.

Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography