Wednesday, December 31, 2008


Back in 2006, we first heard about the (alleged) book-reading rivalry between Karl Rove and George W. Bush. I've never really believed that these two guys actually do try to out-read each other, but if it's true, the point (not surprisingly, given the participants) seems to have nothing to do with wisdom or aesthetic pleasure or insight -- the point is: whose stack of completed books in a given year is bigger?

When I first read about this, I thought it was a passing bit of press agentry -- but Rove has never stopped insisting that the reading rivalry is real, thought the Wall Street Journal op ed he published last week made clear that size is what matters:

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."

Er, is that a Penguin Classic in your pocket, Karl, or are you just glad to see me?

Whatever the truth of all this, I can't help thinking it's not a coincidence that two people who were with Bush and Rove back in Texas are now reported to be shopping books -- first Laura Bush and now Alberto Gonzales. (Gonzo just told The Wall Street Journal about his, although he's struggling to find a publisher; Laura's talking to several publishers.)

This makes me think that the seemingly underemployed Rove is actually running the Bush Legacy Tour, and books -- first by key players, then, eventually, by Bush himself -- are a central part of his strategy to remove the tarnish from Bush's reputation. I don't think it can really work, and I can't imagine who comes after Laura and Gonzo -- another veteran of the governor's mansion? Harriet Miers, maybe? -- but I suppose it's keeping Karl off the streets.

No comments: