Wednesday, August 23, 2006

# Posted 3:21 PM by Taylor Owen  

PHILISTINE OR CONCERNED CITIZEN?: This curiously fascinating piece of personal Presidential information was in the U.S. News & World Report:
Maybe it was the influence of his wife, Laura, a former librarian, or his mother, Barbara, a longtime promoter of literacy. Or perhaps he was just eager to dispel his image as an intellectual lightweight. But President Bush now wants it known that he is a man of letters. In fact, Bush has entered a book-reading competition with Karl Rove, his political adviser. White House aides say the president has read 60 books so far this year (while the brainy Rove, to Bush's competitive delight, has racked up only 50)...portraying Bush as a voracious reader is part of an ongoing White House campaign to restore what a senior adviser calls "gravitas" to the Bush persona.
Long ago, back when the President was a still a ‘regular Joe,’ critics longed (with a healthy dose of condescension) for a leader who at least feigned to read the newspaper. Well, perhaps they wished too hard. 60 books so far this year? Now I am more concerned about who is governing the free world during all this down time...
(52) opinions -- Add your opinion

I didn't know that Tom Clancy had written 60 books. Yeah, I saw that he'd read The Stranger. One would hope that Bush is at least literate, but that is a pretty low standard for such a high office.

Yet having lost it, Bush has a long way to go towards recapturing any sense of gravitas, and having Tony Snow issue a press release that says that he's read 60 books doesn't impress.
60 books is simply a lie.

Do the math...he may well OWN 60 books. He may have thumbed through 60 books. But to say that he completed 60 books in 8 months is bullsh!t.

60 books = 8 books / month or 2 books/week. That's 100 pages a day.

It's an obvious lie, and a clumsy one at that.
Hey, *I* read two books a week. It's true I don't govern the free world, but I do manage to blog a lot . . . .
I can read 100 pages in an hour... depends on the book, of course.

Considering how type-A Presidents in general are, and this one is in particular, I'm not surprised he's taking this as a contest.
I question the timing.
Considering you "anonymous" people have a lot less going on that then President of the United States, I'm not very impressed with your claims or your calculations.
Um, I regularly read at least five books a week. The more you read, the faster you're able to read, usually. Sixty in eight months is nothing - I'm not seeing the problem here.
All these anonymous comments claiming, without any evidence, that President George Bush can't be doing this; I find it interesting because it shows how a cherished conception resists any evidence to the contrary.
I'm not anonynous.

But I'd love to see the list of titles.
Who's been governing the free world while he reads all those books?

Um... the same guy who's been running it for the prior 5 years? Dick Cheney!
It's an obvious lie, and a clumsy one at that.

I read about two and a half books a week, and I have a full-time job, an infant daughter and a new house. I manage to get everything done, and still have time to spend with a good book.

100 pages an hour really is not all that much.

How many books do you read?
It's an obvious lie, and a clumsy one at that.

I read about two and a half books a week, and I have a full-time job, an infant daughter and a new house. I manage to get everything done, and still have time to spend with a good book.

100 pages an hour really is not all that much.
Sorry for the double post.
My six-year old daughter read about seven hundred different books last year, about 100 to 150 pages a day. (her average book = a bit over 60 pages)

It's the titles that matter.
I could easily believe that he's in a contest and has racked up more than 60 books.

Unfortunately, barring an actual list from the Press Secretary, I'm more inclined to think they're of the "My Pet Goat" / "Pokey Little Puppy" / Incredibly Dirty Jokes, Volume 18" variety, rather than Churchill's History of the English-Speaking Peoples, the Analects, or Henry V (which, come to think of it, would be a damn fine idea for 43).

I'm also curious what was so appealling to the Press Secretary about publicizing the Pres's interest in the book that spawned the song "Killing an Arab." Its fuel to the Dem's fire, and a slap in the face of the Rep's who wish Bush would do a more thorough job himself.

My only guess is they supposed it couldn't hurt, since the only people in America who read French books in translation would tend not to vote for Bush anyway.
Keep in mind that the President does a WHOLE lot of traveling. He has lots and lots of hours sitting in a plane, and I doubt that he's teleconferencing the whole time. He could probably read a book, maybe two, in a single round trip to Baghdad, for example.
Two books a week is actually not hard to do, even for people without my particular mutation (I read extremely quickly). You just have to make the time.

I suggest that the BDS sufferers try a different tack; perhaps you could start suggesting that the President's reading 'mere' genre fiction?
Ah, never mind. It's already started. :)
Unfortunately, barring an actual list from the Press Secretary, I'm more inclined to think they're of the "My Pet Goat" / "Pokey Little Puppy" / Incredibly Dirty Jokes, Volume 18" variety, rather than Churchill's History of the English-Speaking Peoples, the Analects, or Henry V (which, come to think of it, would be a damn fine idea for 43).

Oh, that's so clever. You managed to insult the president and paint yourself as an intellectual at the same time.

Bravo. Sure, the substance of the comment is no different than the 'Bush is teh stoopid' nonsense we've been hearing for years, but you have such flair.
Incidentally, not that Reuters et al.'ve been acquitting themselves at all well lately, but *did* the president ever start reading *any* newspaper? or even a decent blog?

Thanks all the same. For what it's worth, I don't think the Pres. is teh st00pi+ by any means - family or not, guy went to Yale and won an election and a half; I'm sure he could say "nuclear" correctly if he wanted to - but he doesn't and he just isn't the bookish type.

Good for Laura, though.
Gotta love all these brave Anonymous posters exhibiting their "superior intellect" here.

That's 100 pages a day.

I gather you must find it rather difficult to get through 100 pages a day by your "surpised" tone.

I can read 100 pages in about 60-90 minutes without breaking a sweat.

It's an obvious lie, and a clumsy one at that.

I generally find that people who love to call others liars are generally the ones who lie the most. I also tend to find that those who think they are so much more intelligent then the rest of us are generally some of the most ignorant people around.

Memo to all you Anontrolls:

Next time you are at the store stop by the parts department and pick up a pair of testicles. Oh, I forgot. They do not sell those to children or the maturity impaired. Besides, you probably can not afford them out of the allowance your parents give you.

Never mind...You may now resume your trolling from the comfort of your parents basement. BTW-that reflection you see in the mirror is really you, not Mikey Moore.
For heaven's sake. My husband hardly ever cracks a book, but he's probably the sharpest thinker and the most effective people-manager I know; he's just not interested in fiction, nor in ponderous, nor vacuous, non-fiction. I, on the other hand, read voraciously, but it doesn't make me a better person or a better leader - just someone who's read a lot of books.

There's value in reading the great ideas that shape our culture and others, but the value doesn't derive from (figuratively - which I clarify to take the wind out of the sails of the reality-based community, who might otherwise "conclude" that neo-cons really think you can do this) putting the books under your pillow in hopes that they enter your brain through osmosis or something. So the question for you self-congratulatory anonymities out there, especially you with the six-year-old (somehow you think your child's being a speed-reader of Magic Tree House books at an early age rubs off on you?), is, when you read, do you actually take anything away from what you read?
Actually his undergrad is from Yale... his MBA is from Harvard.
That's not hard to believe at all, i've read atleast 100 books in the past year. It's really not hard, I've read a book in a day many times, and like other's who have commented, I have a full time job, and many obligations after work.
The "Bush is stupid" meme is always good for a giggle. Stupid people don't win elections.

Though they do say things like "Bush has won one-and-a-half elections" - GET OVER IT!!!

While BDS is involved, it's not just that - the same people thought Reagan was a dunce. In fact, the more conservative the politician, the dumber they think he/she is.

It all comes from their own arrogance - they simply cannot believe that any intelligent person could be a conservative, "therefore" the conservative must be a dunce.

You know Augustus was derided for mispronouncing and misspelling words and also for using improper grammar in his letters, too.

He kept on doing it to show that he wasn't going to give in to the intellectual snobs who sneered at him behind his back and to illustrate the difference between him and the old family elites who viewed him as an uneducated hick. He also dressed in home spun cloth while the senators of the time were in the finest imported fabrics. He ate simply while the elites were outdoing themseves in importing the most exoctic foods and drinks He was a very strong believer in what we call "family values" and was constantly mocked for it by the elitists.

Guess what?

Augustus established the foundation on which most of the western worlds laws, governments, customs and archetecture are based on (to name just a few things). Want to know something else? He was genuinely loved by the common folk in both Rome and the provinces. The only ones who detested him were the old family snobs and the elitists.

Want to know something else?

You are aware of the fact that the British elitists and their tools in the MSM of the time considered Winston Churchill a "drunken imperialistic warmoger" for warning that Hitler was serious. It took the elites and the MSM up to the start of the battle of Britain to finally figure out that Churchill was just a teeny bit right.

The Democrats of the day called Lincoln a baboon, an uneducated hick, a fool and an idiot. They and the MSM of the time treated him much the same way the Democrats, elitists and the MSM of today treat George Bush. IN fact many of their arguments, statements and policies sound like they came straight out of the 1864 Democratic national convention. Do your research and you will find it to be the case. While you are doing that research observe what happened to the Democrats and elitists afterwards.
Actually, there have been some lists put out of what Bush reads, from time to time. The books mentioned are mostly history and biography, especially biographies of political figures.

The champion book reader among our presidents was probably Teddy Roosevelt. I seem to recall reading that he read one book a day, typically. Nothing impossible about that. I could do it myself, though I have never felt the need to.

It is a little depressing to see so many commenters here treat information that surprises them as a threat -- if it reflects well on Bush.
obviously, bush just read the cliffnotes for l'etrangere.
and came away with no comprehension from those.
actually, if he wants to read camus, he should read caligula. ;)
Bush reads French? Why struggle through l'etrangere when you can slip through The Stranger? Actually, why bother with either? I was disappointed by the news, to be honest. Existentialism is for adolescents.
I read 3-5 books a week and can read a 500 page book in a couple of days. Sorry you feel threatened and diminished that a Republican president can perform above your intellectual level. Most of us conservatives can.
According to Col. North, Nixon one time went through the nine hundred pages of Paul Johnson's brilliant Modern Times in forty-five minutes...which impressed North, and me even more so because I had to struggle to get through that book. Double chocolate fudge cake for the mind...it hurt good to read it.

The thing is Nixon was, except for perhaps Madison, probably our smartest in raw IQ, president.

So Bush being able to do sixty books in that time is very believable. Nixon would have probably done a couple hundred in the same time...and yes in that story Nixon was on a flight or getting ready for one. Presidents do fly a lot.

In re the question above, if anyone is really interested, the President reportedly reads a lot of Victor Hanson, Natan Sharansky, and the like.

Not light reading by any means, though I'm sure the list would drive those who already don't like him into apoplexy as it's basically the Neocon Book Club.
You just know his pronounciation of Camus sound like bus. :)
"I read 3-5 books a week and can read a 500 page book in a couple of days. Sorry you feel threatened and diminished that a Republican president can perform above your intellectual level. Most of us conservatives can."


No one said Republicans or conservatives aren't capable of reading many books in a short period of time. Just Bush, that's all. You just expanded the other side's argument to an unreasonable level in order to discredit it and buttress your side.

I guess lying is in your nature.
I can't resist - with apologies for stealing and mutilating the line from "A Fish Called Wanda"

W: "Gorillas don't read 60 books in a year, Laura!"

L: "Yes, they do, W. They just don't understand them."

Nixon our second-smartest president? Maybe. I think Hoover was smarter, maybe a genuine genius. Not remembered as a great president, though. Wilson was plenty smart but didn't really act it - he had that "mission from God" complex. Clinton was smart but was stuck at an emotional age of fourteen, so it didn't do him much good. Smarts are overrated - the smartest man in the room at Nuremburg was probably Hermann Goering, and look what good it did him.

How many books one can whisk through in a day isn't all that important. What's the book, and what are you doing with it? You can knock off a modern lightweight like Robert Pirsig in less than an hour. You can't do the same with, say, Gibbon, or Goldstein's Classical Mechanics. It's worthwhile going a bit slower on any of Teddy Roosevelt's books. (He wrote quite a few - nature studies, exploration, history, autobiographical adventures, etc - no light fiction, though.) Some books require a different approach than others. I find that I don't have much interest in the ones that can be banged off in an hour or so, and concentrate on the ones which require a bit more work from the reader. And that slows things down a bit. So what is the President reading? Kennedy wanted more people to read The Guns of August, particularly while he was wrestling with Russian missiles in Cuba - but no problem, the late Barbara Tuchman's an easy read.
I read 8 million books a second and my three year-old grandmother who hasn't been born reads 37 zillion books a week.

strangely, though, both of us are still really boring.

would anyone else like to make tedious self-obsessed remarks about how many fucking books they claim to read?
I read War and Peace in 3 hours,

It's about Russia......


(Stolen from Woody Allen)
I remember reading, in a Maureen Dowd column no less, before the 2000 election, that one of Bush's favorite recording artists is Van Morrison. That alone puts him lengths ahead of other national-scene politicians these days, regardless of what or how much he reads.
Posting as anonymous because I canot remember the blog I started's password...

When Bush lost his first ever election, a poll was done to try and figure out what he was missing.
The voters (in Texas) felt he came across as "too intellectual"
The man is learned. Doesn't change the fact that he mangles the English language when he speaks.
But then again, Churchill had a ferocious lisp and was denigrated by lefties of his time too. Churchill was also an unreperntant alcoholic who rose to power by currying favour with his mother's many extramarital lovers. Let's see, he also messed up during wartime (repeatedly), abandoned his post to go adventuring, came from an elitist, aristocratic family.
On the other hand, a certain well spoken Austrian corporal was a vegetarian teeotaller and was opposed to use of animals in research would make an excellent candidate, based on the BDS crowd's desires
i red me a book oncet. it shore wuz hard!
"...publicizing the Pres's interest in the book that spawned the song 'Killing an Arab.'"

For decades reading "The Stranger" was considered a sign that one was a sophisticaed, educated person, and intellectual even. Now, because Bush is reading it, suddenly it's a bad thing. As the Church Lady might have said, now isn't that interesting.
The guy's a history major who keeps abreast of books in his field. Plus, he reads biographies and a whole lot of stuff. It's serious BDS to claim that President Bush can't read 60 books a year. As for his handling of language, Kathleen Parker listened to tapes of him as Texas governor and discovered not a malapropism. She then hypothesized that President Bush's problem is that he's attempting to use language in a way that he thinks is befitting of Washington. If he were to relax and just be himself, his speech problems would go away. Out of concern for the Office, the man subsumes himself and messes up. He ought to let himself go cuz he can honor the Office quite well by being his own plain spoken, honest self.
Bush speaking is a man trying to use one set of words for a 5-year-old and PhD and Lawyer at same time. The children need small words and repetition. The adults get upset...
60 books is an accomplishment. Those who knock should set their number and list alongside. They won't. It's easier to deal with Bush as cartoon than real person doing real job in world where people are trying to kill us...

Cartoons are easier for the intellectual crowd to deal with.
0 books so far ? Good for him.

The Idea of W and Rove engaged in a book reading contest sounds like something out of "That's our Bush".
I meant 60.

The 0 was a typo.
I happened to have gone to the same high school as the President so I am familiar with the books he had to read to graduate. The basic reading list included Shakespeare (Henry the Vth), the Odyssey, Milton. It is no surprise to learn he has a grounding in the classics.
Big D,
No question about smarts being overrated, Washington was considered by his peers to be--a second-rank intellect, and a first-rate temperment.

Of course, being considered second-rank by the level of Jefferson and Franklin ain't no bad thing.

Hoover, interesting. I've heard that before. I wonder if we might have a Hoover/FDR redo. That is, FDR and Hoover were very close in policy, but FDR was a whole lot more charming. So have Bush substitute in for Hoover in that, and.....?

Wilson, I'd agree he was smart. I'm still voting for Nixon ahead of him however. Although it wouldn't surprise me if Wilson as ex-college president was more systematically educated.

For AD&D players, we used to say Nixon had an 18 INT, and a 12 Wisdom.

But, this is ill-informed speculation on my part. Fun though.

2 points:
I believe I recall a quote from Harry Truman to the effect of "Every man I ever met I first met in Plutarch."

In Churchill's autobio "My Early Years", he tells how in about 1900 when on a world wide speaking tour, he stopped in to visit Mark Twain. He brought along a new copy of every book Twain had ever published, and had Mark Twain autograph every one of them to his friend Winston Churchill. Seems to me that's about as smart as it gets.
I read 2 or 3 books a week, no problem. Some of the longer ones do take more time, but the average is 2.5 per week. I have to have at least four new reads on hand as backup books since I hate to run out. I also read much internet news and blogs. It's a vice (says my wife).
ahem,...back to the original comment...

Why would anyone (the President included) read NEWSPAPERS unless they were shopping for info that MSM pipes simply couldn't/wouldn't bother covering (Aunt Ermas obit/collards on special price at Doshers, etc.)? "Paper-media" is a very dead monkey.
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