Bush's Brain on Books

Karl Rove embarrassed himself yesterday by publishing an Op-Ed claiming that George W Bush reads about 95 books a year:

There is a myth perpetuated by Bush critics that he would rather burn a book than read one. Like so many caricatures of the past eight years, this one is not only wrong, but also the opposite of the truth and evidence that bitterness can devour a small-minded critic. Mr. Bush loves books, learns from them, and is intellectually engaged by them.
Many people have noted the mathematical improbability of Rove's claim, while Richard Cohen keeps his journalistic reputation unspoiled by believing every single word of it. For me, however, it's not the claim's mathematical unlikelihood or the fact that Bush can't seem to remember anything he's read that inspires incredulity here. I don't think I'm misunderestimating our President when I say that it's simply impossible for him to both be a serious reader and have such a foul understanding of the English language. What?...is he reading his books in their original French and Latin? Even so, he would have a better grasp of simple sentence structure than he has now. Categorically. Impossible.

But what really interests me about Rove's Op-Ed is that it confirms a feeling I've had about Rove for some time now: he, himself, desperately needs to feel intellectually superior. Just the fact that it's so important for him to try to resurrect this White House's intellectual image rouses suspicion but that he chooses to show off his own (probably exaggerated) literary habits in order to juxtapose them with his boss' really makes the case. Every time I see Karl Rove, he immediately calls to mind a particular PG Wodehouse character named Jeeves, the butler. The two are quite similar: each getting a gleeful look in his eye whenever he has the opportunity to use his intellectual abilities in the service of his master, all the while making sure to retain a certain amount of superiority and control. Their bosses both maintaining a cartoonish level of ivy league ignorance while sporadically displaying rare, impracticable glimpses of hazy insight. And in that respect, Karl Rove's tragedy is Jeeves' tragedy. To both of them, appearances matter a great deal, but sadly, their fortunes are always inextricably linked to their bosses' inevitable buffoonery. Furthermore, it's painfully obvious to the even the most casual of observers that neither Rove nor Jeeves would ever seem so smart if the people he worked for didn't always seem so...less smart.

Nothing New byslag at 9:43 AM

1 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here):

Gye Greene said...

Good point on reading vis-a-vis command of language.

OTOH, those "See Spot Run" books probably don't raise one's verbal ability much beyond a certain threshold. And you can probably knock one off in just a few minutes. so, 95 of those is plausible.

(Clarification: Is it 95 **different** books...?)


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