Former Senate majority leaders Trent Lott, R-Miss., and Tom Daschle, D-S.D., kicked off the publicity tour for their new book, "Crisis Point" by letting slip one of the great truths about being a Washington author.
When asked whether he or Daschle wrote more of the book, Lott demonstrated some of the candor and wit that earned him respect across the aisle and with journalists during his time running the chamber with his platonic soul mate, Daschle. "He's not in the room," Lott told the audience gathered at the National Press Club on Jan. 19. And so Jon Sternfeld, the New York-based writer and editor who helped assemble the two senators' book about overcoming political dysfunction, got some recognition that rarely comes to folks like him. While Sternfeld's name is on the back jacket cover, it's not on the front cover. Few ghost writers actually get acknowledged for the work they do on behalf of public figures who are the primary authors of memoirs, how-to books and other literary ventures.
After the reading, Lott and Daschle signed copies, and the two worked the room in the ways they helped hone their political craft in years past. Lott pressed the flesh and joked with old colleagues. Daschle was the calm in the storm, listening intently to each person introduce themselves, and calmly responding.
"Thanks for all that heartburn you gave me over the years," Lott said to former Sen. Olympia J. Snowe, R-Maine, his Bipartisan Policy Center colleague who swung by the club to hear her old chums talk up their tome.
When longtime journalist Albert Eisele of The Hill came up to the two, Lott was ready. "He's about the only one who's been around longer than you and me, Tom," Lott said. Daschle smiled.
After some small talk and signing Eisele's copy of their [and Sternfeld's] book, Lott said, "All I got to say, Albert, is keep the faith, baby."
In an election year, that's all many people need to hear.