Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Great Article: Bush the Reader

Okay, for those of you with an adamant, unyielding disgust for our current president, George W. Bush, read no further. But, for those interested in a little inside baseball about "W", that I was unaware of, I found this article by Karl Rove interesting:

"With only five days left, my lead is insurmountable. The competition can't catch up. And for the third year in a row, I'll triumph. In second place will be the president of the United States. Our contest is not about sports or politics. It's about books.

It all started on New Year's Eve in 2005. President Bush asked what my New Year's resolutions were. I told him that as a regular reader who'd gotten out of the habit, my goal was to read a book a week in 2006. Three days later, we were in the Oval Office when he fixed me in his sights and said, "I'm on my second. Where are you?" Mr. Bush had turned my resolution into a contest.

By coincidence, we were both reading Doris Kearns Goodwin's "Team of Rivals." The president jumped to a slim early lead and remained ahead until March, when I moved decisively in front. The competition soon spun out of control. We kept track not just of books read, but also the number of pages and later the combined size of each book's pages -- its "Total Lateral Area."

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We recommended volumes to each other (for example, he encouraged me to read a Mao biography; I suggested a book on Reconstruction's unhappy end). We discussed the books and wrote thank-you notes to some authors.

At year's end, I defeated the president, 110 books to 95. My trophy looks suspiciously like those given out at junior bowling finals. The president lamely insisted he'd lost because he'd been busy as Leader of the Free World."

Regardless of your politics, I found the article enjoyable (click here to read the whole thing). There's just something wonderful about hearing about a president's book reading contest with a staffer -- regardless of whom it might be. This, in addition to all the memos and policy papers they are both reading throughout the day.

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