In a column printed in the Wall Street Journal last week, former presidential adviser Karl Rove said he and President George W. Bush engaged in three consecutive, yearlong book-reading contests (all won by Rove). Since the dawn of 2006, Bush allegedly read 186 books while Rove read 250. Rove, always the Bush apologist and spin doctor, notes he won the contests easily because Bush is busy being the leader of the free world. (Read Rove’s column here: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123025595706634689.html.)
Of course, the odd thing about Rove’s claim is Bush should be too busy to read that many books. I am an avid reader with some extra free time on his hands these days and I still don’t think I could read 95 books in one year as Bush allegedly did in 2006. (And Bush allegedly read Doris Kearns Goodwin’s Team of Rivals – a 757-page tome, not including another 160 pages of notes, credits and index – that year!) And to think we’ve been led to believe for years, by Bush himself, that the president doesn’t like reading.
I suspect Rove’s claims of mass reading by Bush may be exaggerated, but if they are true, they explain a bit about the president. For example, Rove says Bush reads instead of watching TV. Does that explain Bush’s lackluster response to Hurricane Katrina? He must’ve been busy reading while every news channel in the United States was broadcasting stories from the disaster, so how could he have known something tragic was happening?
Rove claims Bush’s approach to the reading competition indicates how he tackles goals. “It’s not about winning,” Rove wrote. “A good-natured competition helps keep him centered and makes possible a clear mind and a high level of energy.” So Bush doesn’t care about winning? That explains the lack of proper planning for the Iraq war.
Here’s hoping that after Bush leaves office later this month, he devotes some quality time to reading some books about how he led our country into its current mess. Maybe then he will get a better grasp of how history will judge him, rather than keep believing the Harry Truman post-presidency comparison.