Bloggers choose sides on Bush's book claim

On Blogs

September 03, 2006|By Troy McCullough | Troy McCullough,Sun Columnist

Count bloggers among those who are having trouble coming to terms with President Bush as the reader in chief.

The White House's release of Bush's summer reading selections - including Camus' existentialist novel The Stranger and weighty biographies like Lincoln: A Life of Purpose and Power - as well as claims that the president has already devoured 60 books this year left the online chattering class buzzing.

"Anybody buying this?" asked Cynical-C (

The answer appeared to depend largely on political leanings. Bloggers on the left howled in disbelief while bloggers on the right rushed to defend the claims of the suddenly erudite president.

The liberal Daily Kos ( offered an alternate reading list for the president, including The U.S. Constitution and You, A Kid's Guide to America's Bill of Rights, and Elementary Grammar.

But some of the sharpest criticism spilled forth from Bob Cesca on the Huffington Post. In a no-holds-barred piece titled "No way in Hell President Bush has read 60 books," Cesca wrote:

"President Bush is currently responsible for two ground wars; a crisis in Israel and Lebanon; a midterm election; a sagging housing market; the upcoming hurricane season; a laundry list of scandals; an on-going attempt to avoid coming off like a retarded frat-boy bully; and the day-to-day struggle to basically run the nation - that is, pretend to run the nation. Looking back on 2006, he's faced numerous other critical events at home and abroad including gas prices, immigration, the Dubai ports deal, the Plame investigation, and his vice president shooting a lawyer in the face.

"Yet, he's somehow found time to read not one, not five, not 20, but 60 books this year alone."

Many book bloggers as well just weren't believing it, though it was unclear whether their skepticism was based on political views or readers' envy.

"It's like the kid who forges straight A's on his report card instead of going for a C and D passing spread, George," lectured Bookninja. "We know you're lying because it's just too unbelievable."

Conservative bloggers were more prone to give Bush the benefit of the doubt, or to lash out at their liberal enemies for having the elitist nerve to once again question the president's claims.

One prominent blogger, the AnchoRess, went after New Yorker writer Adam Gopnik with a fury after Gopnik poked fun at the president's list, particularly his choice of The Stranger.

"So taken aback are they by the president's climbing gall in reading Camus that they feel they must lecture him about it," the Anchoress wrote of Gopnik and his cohorts.

"What a foppish snot. What disagreeable, nauseating snobs. These folk don't take themselves too, too seriously, do they? I wonder how they can reproduce with their noses so high in the air?"

And to those who questioned the 60-book claim, the Anchoress added: "Likely he reads for an hour or so before he sleeps. Two books a week does not strain credulity, after all."

Barring the release of presidential book reports, we may never know for sure.

Listen to Troy McCulloughs podcasts at

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.