My man Jon Bruner just posted on the various presidential candidates' books (and their sales!) here. How about a bookshelf debate amongst the covers?
Clinton: I love me!
Obama: If you liked the English Patient, you'll love me.
McCain: If you like hot hot men, you'll love me.
Huckabee: I love me more than I used to.
Clinton: No, really, I'm a hottie. Annie Liebovitz told me.
McCain: You got nothin, bitch, I'm the hottest muthafucka in a flight suit.
Obama: Please, can't we all rise above this?
Huckabee: Not only am I a presidential candidate, I'm a voter. And I vote for myself.
Ok, that's played out. serious observations:
Clinton's design says, I'm Hillary Clinton and that's all you need to know. You've made up your mind about me, probably some time in 1991, so wtf, I'll sell to the lovers and hate on the haters.
Obama's: I've got something for everyone, and a vaguely pretty landscape here that you can populate in your mind's eye however you like. This design, though, is weakened by the posed shot of Barack between the snapshots of his parents--it frames him as the inauthentic one, living off the real achievements of others. Not to say that he doesn't have other virtues--I'm probably going to wind up voting for the dude--, but that's what a critical reading of the cover suggests. I'd rather, of course, have had this photo of him.
McCain's: this has gotta be the most interesting in terms of political imagery: In contrast to Obama's, it's all about authenticity. It says, "All that stuff that George Bush is faking? I'm the real deal." He plays airplanes? not when people are really shooting at him. His daddy was in the navy? My daddy and grandaddy were goddam admirals!
Huckabee's cover shows his appeal: If I can do it, you can, too! We can all become better people! And this resonates with the conservative message of self-reliance (institutional support? bah! all you need is WILL! we won't dwell on how it helps to be wealthy and white in order to get what you want).
By party lines: the democrats have women (my, how shocking!) on their covers; the Republican covers show evidence of personal achievement.
And I'll repeat here what I said in 2005: No one can beat John McCain in a general election.