The World According to Nick
My take on Software, Technology, Politics, and anything else I feel like talking about.
Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Surprise! The Chimp Can Read! 

Ann Althouse points to this News Day article about the shocking revelation for some that President Bush reads books.

Gas prices are climbing, motorists are fuming and President Bush is at his ranch with a book about the history of salt.

There could be a connection.

According to the White House, one of three books Bush chose to read on his five-week vacation is "Salt: A World History" by Mark Kurlansky, who chronicled the rise and fall of what once was considered the world's most strategic commodity.
...
Kurlansky said he was surprised to hear that Bush had taken his book to the ranch: "My first reaction was, 'Oh, he reads books?'"

The author said he was a "virulent Bush opponent" who had given speeches denouncing the war in Iraq.

First of all, I find the author's exclamation to be pretty outrageous. Are some people so enamored by their own insane comparisons between Bush and Hitler, or Bush and a chimp that they actually believe that he doesn't read? That point aside, I find the comparison that Bush has drawn between salt and oil to be rather interesting, especially given the history of salt that the article describes. But back the stupid exclamations of the authors:

"What I find fascinating, and it's probably a positive thing about the White House, is they don't seem to do any research about the writers when they pick the books," Kurlansky said.

What I find fascinating is that the author seems to think that Bush is kept in some sort of reclusive state, hidden away from the world where only approved messages are given to him, and only certain books by certain authors with certain views make it to his reading stand. Given this particular author's "virulent opposition to Bush", it's really no surprise he would think that. Hitler's staff did exactly that to him... controlling what information got to him in order to avoid... well... being a dead messenger. And seeing as how so many people seem to love the Bush is Hitler meme, it's no surprise that he would expect the same parallel here.

Barry, author of "The Great Influenza," said that he too had been a Bush critic. But his views have not deterred the administration from seeking his advice on the potential for another pandemic like the 1918 outbreak that claimed millions of lives worldwide.

Although Barry was not aware that the president planned to read the book, he said he had been consulting off and on with senior administration officials since its release in February 2004. He had lunch with Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt two weeks ago.

Once again... the fact that the White House would consult with an expert in a field, even though he may oppose the administration personally, I think is encouraging, and not at all surprising. After all, isn't it one of the biggest complaints about Bush that he only surrounds himself with "Yes Men"? Are people so foolish to think that he would avoid consulting with certain experts because of their views on the war?

Bush's choice of "Alexander II" appears to reflect his interest in books about transformational political leaders. Among those he has perused since becoming president are biographies of George Washington, John Adams, Alexander Hamilton, Theodore Roosevelt, Richard the Lionheart and Peter the Great.

But Radzinsky's portrait of Alexander II may have special relevance to Bush, who obtained an advance copy of the English translation scheduled for publication in November. Alexander II, who ruled Russia from 1855 to 1881, was known as the "Czar Liberator" because he freed 23 million Russian slaves in 1861, two years before Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation.

Personally I'm impressed. His reading list is a lot more worldly than mine, which right now consists of "The Bourne Supremacy" (completely different from the movie by the way), and the audio version of The Da Vinci Code.

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Name: Nick
Home: Wauwatosa, WI, United States

I'm a Software Consultant in the Milwaukee area. Among various geeky pursuits, I'm also an amateur triathlete, and enjoy rock climbing. I also like to think I'm a political pundit.


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