At the beginning of President Bush’s inappropriately long summer vacation, the White House message machine produced a list of books the president would be reading in his downtime.
The list included “Salt: A World History;” “Alexander II: The Last Great Tsar;” and “The Great Influenza: The Epic Story of the Deadliest Plague in History.”
Yeah right. And if you believe that, send me an email – I’ve got a solid line on some oxycontin for your pal Rush.
Last week, we reported that a number of universities in Texas were vying to be the home of President Bush’s “liberry.” We know that Pensito Review has a mysterious but faithful reader from in the federal gubmint (Hi there!) but we’re not so full of oursevles that we think our ribbing the president because he his a lamebrain caused his flying monkeys to make up a fake reading list that same day.
President Bush isn’t reading anything this summer. To relax, he watches back episodes of MTV’s “Punk’d” series in which Ashton Kutcher pulls elaborate practical jokes on his Hollywood friends. Watching Justin Timberlake cry and call for his mommy when he’s “punk’d” into believing the IRS is repossessing his house is simply priceless. That’s something that would appeal to Bush’s inner fratboy. (And since he doesn’t read at all, he probably doesn’t know that his daughters, Jenna and Barbara, allegedly indulged in “underage drinking” and pot smoking and Kutcher’s home in Hollywood back in 2001.)
The reading list is a lie. There is no evidence to support the fact that a recalcitrant dunce like George W. Bush could wade through these books – or even the Cliff Notes versions thereof.
So who buys this crap?
Not even the MSM anymore, apparently. Only the Los Angeles Times gave the president’s propagandists’ news release on his reading list straight coverage. Kir Slevin, writing for AlterNet, deconstructs how the so-called liberal press acts as a conduit for the president’s propagandists:
The L.A. Times piece, by Warren Vieth, is a pretty good demonstration of how the media swallows administration pap. The book choices are parsed for what they say about the president’s interests. Salt was once a fought-over resource, like oil! Alexander II was a “transformational” leader! … [But] he fails to underline the obvious: The books are chosen by the White House to imbue Bush’s macho reputation with just a tingle of profundity.
In his book, “The Bush Dyslexicon,” Mark Crispin Miller lays out a very convincing argument that George W. Bush is acutely dyslexic, which may be one reason he doesn’t read. In his AlterNet piece, Slevin cites evidence from the record that President Bush is as proudly unread as the yahoos who comprise his base:
- Asked the title of his first favorite book, Bush responded, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, a book published after he graduated from college;
- Asked for the name of a political philosopher with whom he identified, his response, Jesus Christ, showed he wasn’t conversant either with political philosophy or the difference between philosophy and religion;
- When quizzed in the 2000 debates, he was unable to say anything meaningful about a subject (Dean Acheson) on which he said he was reading;
- Bush himself said in 2003 that he doesn’t read newspapers. Even his former speechwriter David Frum called him “uncurious and as a result ill-informed.”
No other president has felt the need to lie about the contents of a summer reading list. What would make the message-meisters around President Bush create such an elaborate fiction about his?
Slevin posits that the reading list lie belongs in the context of the Bushite use of “the big lie” method of governance:
The significance remains that the summer reading list is about the most transparent example of the administration using the big lie technique — that is, playing the public and the media for fools. That the lies haven’t been watertight, that holes have quickly appeared, that critics have vented a sea of ink in outrage, doesn’t matter. The administration’s lies give reason to policy and create enough ambiguity for action. And after action, it’s too late for critics and opponents.
In case you’re just tuning in, the big lie was first deployed in the, er, Hitler Administration. Slevin says, “The first mention of the term is in Hitler’s Mein Kampf (1925), where he both analyzes the technique and complains that those who wish to discredit him have spread lies about his policies. ‘[I]n the big lie, there is always a certain force of credibility,’ he wrote. The masses ‘more readily fall victims to the big lie than the small lie, since they themselves often tell small lies in little matters but would be ashamed to resort to large-scale falsehoods.'”
If there’s any good news in all this, here it is: while the big lie technique is effective in the short term, over time the damage it inflicts on the society it abuses always discredits – and ruins – the abusers.
Perhaps we’re seeing the beginning of this unraveling now. Let’s just hope the big liars in this administration are revealed unambiguously before Americans go to the polls again.