Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Mitt Romney's No Apology 11: Writing

I finished Mitt Romney's No Apology: Believe in America.  In this post, I'll highlight some things that Romney says on page 323, in the Acknowledgments.

"Ann and my family always began conversations about the book by saying that they really enjoyed it, but then suggested some important revisions----they have learned that 'a spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down.'... Bob White, my career-long wingman, sent me several pages of notes, all designed to help keep me from flying into a mountain.  Hugh Hewitt, whom I had met when he interviewed me about my 2008 prospects, offered helpful language, edits, and perspective, undoubtedly gleaned from his listening experiences as a prominent talk-show host.  The aptly named Jim Talent, former U.S. Senator from Missouri, kindly contributed policy thinking and insights, as he has done for me many times before.  Eric Fehrnstrom, my press and communications professional for seven years, made sure that what I wrote accurately reflected what I actually wanted to say.  And Beth Myers, my chief of staff when I served as governor and my campaign manager in 2008, read and reread what I wrote, reminding me of relevant experiences to relate, tightening my writing, and providing key insights.  She made the book happen."
Writing can be a bear.  There's the challenge of trying to put into words the muddled thoughts in my mind, without saying something that can be misconstrued as offensive.  There's also the challenge of trying to be readable----not only in the sense of being understood by the readers, but also in the sense of readers actually wanting to read what I write.  And there's the challenge of organization----of not flying into a mountain, as Romney puts it, for writing can lead to all sorts of places that you did not expect, and perhaps didn't want to go.  On many occasions when I have blogged and written papers, I find myself on some writing-tangent wondering, "How did I get here in writing this, and how can I write my way out of this pit?"

I don't know how so many people on the Internet can write such letter-perfect comments and blog posts.  Often, to be honest, I decide not to comment on posts, for I can't figure out how to put into words what I want to say.  It ain't easy!  Consequently, I can identify with what Romney says in his acknowledgments: he needed help in making his language tighter, in making his book readable and entertaining, in making his book more organized, and in showing that he knew what he was talking about when it came to policy.

Did he succeed in his goals?  Overall, I'd say "yes".  I was initially reluctant to read this book, since I had already read a lot of books by Republican Presidential candidates, but I am glad that I did.  I appreciated how Romney looked into various angles as he talked about policy, critiquing both the left and also elements of the right.  This book is really heavy-duty on policy, and I was actually more impressed by Romney in this book than I have been by Newt's numerous books about policy.  But the book also has a light-hearted side, as Romney intersperses humor, self-deprecation, and anecdotes.  I especially liked Romney's story about how he was a garbage man for a day when he was governor of Massachusetts, and he flubbed up the job by releasing garbage onto the street!

In terms of the book's weaknesses, I felt that Romney could have done a better job in detailing how creative destruction results in a higher standard of living for most Americans (assuming that he's even correct that it does so).  Moreover, the chest-thumping nationalism got on my nerves a few times, even though I appreciated his stories about Americans helping one another.

Good book!

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