Lynn Swann, A New Direction: My Plan for a Better Pennsylvania (Lynn Swann for Governor, 2006)
[note: review published sometime before June 17, 2007]
Well, we all know how the Pennsylvania gubernatorial race ended up in 2006. It wasn’t for lack of trying on Lynn Swann’s part, but I have to say, I’m not sure whether this little self-published tome did more to help him or harm him at the polls.
First off is the introduction by his wife. I’m not sure whether he’s just a far, far better writer than she is, or whether the editorial staff had taken the day off when she submitted the intro, but it’s godawful. It’s awkwardly-written and full of grammatical errors that make it even harder to read than it otherwise would be; not the best way to unveil your long-range plans as an elected official.
That all changes when we get to the body of Swann’s text, which was proofed to at least the level of most average major-label publications these days (in other words, you’ll find an error here or there, but not terribly many). His thoughts and ideas are presented in a clear, if somewhat dry, manner; the tone of the text makes its slight 144 pages about the perfect length for it. While most everything he’s saying is good common sense (though there are some places where he’s either obviously playing the crowd or has bought so far into common-acceptance rhetoric that I’d have been scared to have him in office—no more so, though, than some of the morons we elected in 2006, and certainly not more than the guy who’s still sitting in the Pennsylvania governor’s office), it becomes obvious pretty quickly that Swann sees a pie somewhere pretty far off the ground, and he’s not afraid to reach for it without too much of a safety net. There’s a great deal of talk about cutting taxes, but where’s the make-up coming from? While he’s certainly correct in saying his plan would revitalize the currently stagnant business climate in Pennsylvania, there would be some hungry years waiting for those new businesses to get profitable. Reforming your state’s schools is a noble goal, but where’s that money going to come from while you’re waiting for those businesses to grow? And so on, and so forth.
A little more thought should probably have gone into talking about the dark side of all this—specifically, how the government would be able to operate during those lean years. Of course, if Swann didn’t think there were going to be any lean years, that would have been a problem in itself.
On the other hand, though, we can all be more than thankful that Ed Rendell didn’t write one of these books. It’s bad enough having to listen to him speak. ** ½