Pitching Texas in Bookland
7/25/2014 12:01:00 AM - Mark Davis
There is no homework for a first book tour, no prep manuals, no mentoring. I’ve been hosting talk shows since Reagan’s first term and writing in various venues for nearly as long. But the exercise that has resulted in an actual book with my name on it has been an education of a wholly different type.
So as the release date approached for “Lone Star America,” I was obviously comfortable communicating its premise— that America would be a lot less screwed up if it were run like Texas. But after decades of fielding book pitches and choosing to welcome or not welcome innumerable authors, I wondered how to increase my chances of winning the favor of countless shows on countless stations, all of which feel the daily hungry gaze of publishers and publicists all politely knocking for admission.
I paid close attention to other authors making the rounds in a summer filled with interesting reads. Dinesh D’Souza’s book about a world without America and Ed Klein’s examination of the bad blood between the Clintons and Obamas were racking up well for Regnery, the publishers who had chosen to cast their fate with me. I also noted closely the great books from two of my favorite townhall.com
writers, Katie Pavlich and Kurt Schlichter. I saw Katie at various outposts discussing “Assault and Flattery,” her tremendous answer to the “war on women” absurdities, and spoke with Kurt on my Texas show about his imaginative portrait of what America might look like if we could actually cobble together some decades of conservative governance.
My prime challenge was to pivot from the mindset of hosting, which I have done for more than thirty years, to the mindset of a guest. This is nothing like appearing on cable news shows, which I’ve done for years, in three-minute bursts of hot opinions, sometimes in an arena featuring one or two other voices.
This was to be a lesson in how countless broadcasters do their shows, and an instant flash poll on what they were interested about when it came to Texas.
The answers are in: borders, borders, borders, and Perry, Perry, Perry.
I cannot deny the good fortune of releasing a book on Texas when our Governor is one of the most talked-about elected officials in the land because of a news story in my state that has captured the attention of the nation.
From tiny towns to top-ten markets to national shows, here are the inquiries I’ve fielded at a blistering pace during release week:
1. What is Rick Perry up to with this National Guard mobilization?
After letting a couple of clarifying weeks pass, Perry acted once it became obvious that the White House had no interest in bolstering the borders. He could have called up the guard at the beginning of July, but harping critics would have said he wasn’t even allowing Team Obama to weigh its options. Now we know the sole option the White House weighed: full steam ahead on open borders.
2. So is Perry doing this to sweeten his appeal for 2016?
I have a rule for Republicans and Democrats alike: if officials do something that is generally in character, I refrain from busting their chops for opportunism. Perry is a master of the tug-of-war between Washington and the states, arguing that the federal government should stay out of the states’ business, but that if the feds bail on a vital function they should actually perform, he will do what is necessary to serve his constituents.
That said, will this help a Perry 2016 push? You bet it will. Of all the adjectives I’ve heard people attach to his National Guard move, one of the most common is “presidential.” It cannot go unnoticed that the Governor of Texas seems more interested in a meaningful national border than the sitting President does.
3. How will this border crisis play out?
Texas is Ground Zero for a showdown as our state’s Democrats try to pave a yellow brick road for thousands of illegal immigrants into communities filled with busy souls packing boxes with blankets, coloring books and granola bars. Pandering local officials are thickly spreading a narrative that any hesitation to absorb these illegals of various ages is de facto evidence of racism. Some charity workers are their wingmen, ladling out the notion that Christianity somehow requires approval of lawbreaking.
So before any interviewer even gets to my chapters on the economic and cultural appeal of Texas, the segments crackle with breaking news. Works for me.
After an initial wave of largely conservative interviewers, I hope for overtures from feisty hosts willing to challenge my thesis. Not that I haven’t sniffed a contrarian breeze or two already— I think some of the shows I’ve appeared on might take the other side of the Perry vs. Rand Paul foreign policy debate. But if my goal was to start a conversation over how America might benefit from the Texas habits of small government, individual liberty and ambitious energy harvesting, it seems to be working.
But with two huge elections in the next 27 months, and with Rick Perry and Senator Ted Cruz attracting so much buzz, most curiosities have not been whether America will follow Texas policies, but whether we might elect another Texas President.