We all know the cliche, “you can’t judge a book by its cover.” But what about the book industry cliche, “You can’t judge a book by its author”? Book publishers are now reconsidering this one for various reasons.
W.W. Norton just took a financial hit by canceling two books by author Blake Bailey–Phillip Roth: The Biography, released only two weeks ago, and The Splendid Things We Planned. It is due to a bunch of sexual allegations that have just come out about Bailey.
But the biggest news about canceling big-deal books has to do with Trumpism, thus politics. Simon & Schuster has been publishing a some memoirs by Trump folks and is scheduled to publish more of them. These planned books include two by former Vice President Mike Pence and one each by former President Trump chief advisor Kellyanne Conway and former Attorney General William Barr. But S&S is now in upheaval over going forward with the Pence books.
Yet Simon & Schuster recently published two blockbuster Trump books: former U.S. Ambassador to the UN and National Security Advisor John R. Bolton’s The Room Where It Happened and Mary L. Trump’s Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man.
Simon & Schuster has been troubled for a similar reason before this. It backed out of a book deal with Republican Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri for his having led the 147 members of Congress in contesting the Electoral College vote count on the eve of Certification Day, January 6th, immediately after the Capitol riot. S&S explained, “As a publisher it will always be our mission to amplify a variety of voices and viewpoints: At the same time we take seriously our larger public responsibility as citizens, and cannot support Senator Hawley after his role in what became a dangerous threat.”
Books by U.S. presidential insiders are usually great news and big sellers; but not now. Two days ago, a letter of protest was submitted to executives of Simon & Schuster that was signed by over 200 of its editors, authors, and employees plus 3,500 “outside supporters” demanding that the publisher no longer publish any books associated with former President Donald Trump. This letter of petition asks Simon & Schuster not to treat “the Trump Administration as a ‘normal’ chapter in American history.” It also demands that the two Pence books be cancelled, calling it “legitimizing bigotry” by accusing both Trump and Pence of advocating white supremacy.
I am about to join the club of Trump books. What Happened to Trump Was in that Bible–which President Trump held up in front of that church for a photo-op on June 1, 2020–is finished and I’m publishing it with Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing. The book has a page about Vice President Mike Pence. Even though Pence is an evangelical, as I am, I don’t go easy on him though I commend him for verifying the Electoral College votes on Certification Day. Here are some excerpts from the book’s subtitle “Mike Pence”:
Mike Pence was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Indiana in 2001 to 2013. He was governor of Indiana from 2013 to 2017. Then Donald Trump asked him to be his running mate as vice president. Trump apparently did so mostly because Pence had been quite public about his evangelical Christian profession. Trump and his advisors wanted to tap into that huge and still growing bloc of voters that politicians largely had ignored for decades. But in accepting this invitation, Pence became Trump’s lap dog. He constantly praised the president and covered for his ill remarks and bad behavior. With Pence being so loyal to Trump, he became disloyal to his own integrity. It nauseated me that this very Christian guy was perhaps the chief enabler of Trump’s wrongdoing as president.
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I believe it was not God’s will for Mike Pence to be Donald Trump’s vice president! Why? It united him with an unsavory non-Christian. Evangelicals used to believe in the biblical commands about separation. For example, the Apostle Paul exhorts, “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?” (2 Corinthians 6.14 KJV). From both an evangelical and Pentecostal/Charismatic perspective, a person is not a genuine Christian unless he or she sincerely believes in Jesus Christ as Savior from sin and confesses him as risen Lord. Donald Trump has never confessed publicly to any of this. So, according to evangelical faith and the Apostle Paul’s instructions, Mike Pence should not have been yoked together with Donald Trump to lead the United States of America as two oxen are yoked together to plow a field.
Moreover, Donald Trump had manifested much behavior reminiscent of Paul’s description of the “later times.” That is when people will do evil “through the hypocrisy of liars whose consciences are seared with a hot iron” (1 Timothy 4.2). Paul adds, “in the last days distressing times will come. For people will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, arrogant, abusers, . . . swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to the outward from of godliness but denying its power. Avoid them!” (2 Timothy 3.1-5). President Trump sometimes publicly said, “God bless America,” but that was about it. And notice that Paul says, “Avoid them!” Thus, Pence should have avoided being Trump’s vice president. Trump had set a trap, and Pence fell into it. Pence helped Trump persuade evangelicals to put him in the White House. The result was that Mike Pence enabled Donald Trump to do further evil.
Some Bible proverbs likely apply to Pence as Trump’s vice president if Trump fits the definition of “a fool.” We read, “leave the presence of a fool” and “honor is not fitting for a fool” (Proverbs 14.7; 26.1, cf. v. 8). I don’t know if Pence has done the following with Trump, but it’s very sobering, “Whoever says to the wicked, ‘You are innocent,’ will be cursed by peoples, abhorred by nations” (24.24).