Ed Driscoll

Index Fund

John Fund writes, “Sarah Palin outsmarts the Beltway”:

Inhabitants of the self-obsessed Beltway political world already have a beef with Sarah Palin’s new memoir, “Going Rogue.”

Political types in Washington make a show of turning up their noses at actually buying and reading such books, but familiar faces can regularly be spotted in store aisles anyway scanning for their names in the index. Sarah Palin’s book won’t have an index, denying Beltway habitués the instant gratification of knowing whether they are included. Instead, political and media types who want to know if they figure in accounts of her conflicts with the McCain campaign or with major news media personalities such as Katie Couric will actually have to buy the book and at least skim it.

The inside joke on Washington D.C.’s preening egos of publishing a political book without an index was pioneered a dozen years ago by John Brady, author of “Bad Boy: The Life and Politics of Lee Atwater,” a biography of the controversial master of negative campaigning who advised the first President Bush’s 1988 election bid.

Mr. Brady’s intent was to boost sales. For scholars and other serious readers he offered a copy of the index to anyone who sent him a stamped, self-addressed envelope. His ploy worked exactly as intended. The book certainly wasn’t a major best-seller, but a Washington bookstore manager told me at the time that several people felt obliged actually to buy the Atwater biography after learning it lacked the shortcut of an index.

She’s also caused a famously misogynist subsidiary of General Electric to lose it once again.