Frank Keating, the chief executive of the American Bankers Association, wrote a biography of George Washington for kids. Maybe Keating should pass around the book on Capitol Hill, too.
Because, after researching a list of life rules that Washington created for himself, Keating came to the following conclusion about how Washington would tackle the top issues facing bankers today.
"He would reform Dodd-Frank and reject Basel III," Keating said, with a laugh, since those positions conveniently line up squarely with the ABA's.
The book, George: George Washington, Our Founding Father, is the second in a series of profiles Keating has written for young readers about the presidents whose visages are carved into Mount Rushmore. Simon & Schuster published Keating's biography of Theodore Roosevelt in 2006. Keating is now working on a profile of Abraham Lincoln; during the ABA's yearly conference for community banks this week in Orlando, Fla., Keating worked on the manuscript in his hotel room during breaks.
The Washington profile is based on a list of precepts, titled "Rules of Civility and Decent Behavior in Company and Conversation," that Washington wrote for himself to use as a guide for living. Keating said he focused on that specific writing because he thought it would be interesting to kids.
"What I want to do is uplift figures in American history and appropriately put them on pedestals and encourage children to be like those people," Keating says.
Keating signed about 300 copies of the Washington book during the conference and offered free copies to attendees. One bank executive asked Keating, a former governor of Oklahoma, what was the main lesson he learned from Washington.
"He knew when to get off the stage and to let other people lead," Keating says.
Keating, who has been the ABA chief since January 2011, said he likes writing children's books because "it's like being a scholar without being a scholar." The work is nevertheless challenging, he says. He read 12 books for the Lincoln profile. Scholars in residence at Mount Vernon, George Washington's plantation home in Virginia, reviewed Keating's Washington profile before publication. Proceeds from the book's sales benefit Mount Vernon.
"It's a very rigid process to make sure you are completely right in what you present to your reader," Keating says.