What do Jimmy Carter, Bill Weld, Saddam Hussein and Winston Churchill have in common?

Overlooked in all the commotion about Bill Weld was a serious character flaw. The problem isn't drugs or alcohol or greed but a compulsion much more dangerous and difficult to suppress. The sad fact is that William Weld is a novelist, which of course calls into question his judgment if not his sanity.

it won't be the first time that novelists have sought public office. Mario Vargas Llosa, Norman Mailer and Gore Vidal, among others, have been political candidates in the past. Upton Sinclair even sought to become governor of California. But the political winds typically blow in the other direction: For some reason, a good many prominent politicians have eventually written novels, including Jimmy Carter, Ed Koch, Gary Hart, Newt Gingrich, William Cohen, Barbara Mikulski, Raymond Flynn and even Winston Churchill. If tyrants count as politicians, we can add Saddam Hussein to the list, although it's nice to report that probably the most famous and accomplished politician-novelist, Benjamin Disraeli, was duly and democratically elected.

The fact is that politicians and novelists have a lot in common, even beyond the irresistibly cynical observation that they both lie for a living. Members of both camps seem to believe that they have a lot to say, after all, and both feel compelled to say it at great length.

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