Saturday, December 24, 2011

Book'em Dano

One of the losses in the age of Kindle is our ability to size up a person by scanning his or her bookshelf. A standard question for Presidential candidates is to ask them what books they are currently reading or which influenced them greatly. Paul Begala looks at the current crop of Republican candidates and finds something of a literary desert/freak show.

One of the strangest moments in Mitt Romney’s uncomfortable interview with Fox News’s Brett Baier a couple of weeks ago came when Baier asked him for the name of the last book he’s read. “I’m reading sort of a fun one right now,” he explained, “so I’ll skip that.” Then he hurried on to say he just finished George W. Bush’s Decision Points. (Which, as Jon Stewart noted, he also said he had “just finished” six months ago.)

But wait: what’s such a guilty pleasure that Mitt dares not speak its name? Japanese cartoon porn? One of those novels about adolescent vampires? (A cute answer if you’re a 15-year-old girl, but kinda creepy if you’re a grandfather running for president.)

But maybe the answer’s worse. When he was asked by Fox to name his favorite novel back in 2007, Romney said Battlefield Earth, the magnum opus of sci-fi writer L. Ron Hubbard.

Ron Paul turns out to be Congress's champion quoter of Ayn Rand, and Michele Bachman cites an obscure pro-slavery rant out of extreme right field.