Art Pottery, Politics and Food
Tuesday, August 16, 2005
No matter the evidence that greets our eyes, all too frequently the White House keeps insisting that our quasi-literate, vocabulary-hampered Commander in Chief reads books.
Yes, I said books.
You know, those rectangular things that resemble videocassettes.
Fresh from his year-long slog through Tom Wolf’s trashy I Am Charlotte Simmons, the White House, according to the Los Angeles Times, wants the world to know the President has sandwiched book reading into vacation activities that already include, bike-riding, napping, Little League baseball, fund-raising, avoiding Cindy Sheehan, cat napping, fishing, brush-clearing and more fund-raising.
According to the LA Times story, “The president enjoys reading and learning about history," White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said.
Well, Ms. Perino, you could have fooled us.
Just what is the President reading?
Could it be the reading level appropriate Kingfisher History Encyclopedia for ages 9 through 12?
According to its review summaries, the Kingfisher History Encyclopedia seems highly Bush appropriate with “bite-sized paragraphs” and “its potential to spark interest in any number of subjects among browsers.”
But no, no kiddie books for dear leader during this epic vacation, our President has, we’re told, selected three big boy books including, Alexander II: The Last Great Tsar, The Great Influenza: The Epic Story of the Deadliest Plague in History and, the book Mr. Bush stand a good chance of actually finishing, Salt: A World History.
I do not mean to disparage Salt: A World History.
It seems that Mr. Bush could be capable of actually finishing this particular book due to what reviewers describe as the author’s great skill and the book’s less intimidating “compilation of readable stories”.
Mr. Bush’s alleged selection seems an ironic turn of events for Salt’s author Mark Kurlansky, self-described to the LA Times as “virulent Bush opponent", who also said, "My first reaction was, 'Oh, he reads books?' …What I find fascinating…is they [the White House] don't seem to do any research about the writers when they pick the books.”
Indeed the White House is two for three with presidential reading list authors as the Times says Great Influenza writer John M. Barrie was “a Bush critic” and also “was not aware that the president planned to read the book.”
The author of Alexander II, Edvard Radzinsky, a Russian, did not express a base American political opinion but did tell the Times in a phone interview from Moscow that the most important lesson to be drawn from his book is that “blood destroys souls”, an adult lesson certainly not to be found in books appropriate for grades 5 and up.
I wonder if Mr. Bush will be able to draw that highly apt lesson.

Modified Image:, Google, Reuters
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