The great Presidential book-reading race!

At times I’m simply dumbfounded by the idiotic stories the big news organizations can come up with.  In a short article titled, “Obama keeping up with Bush’s reading pace?”, CNN’s Political Ticker reported, on June 2,

It appears President Obama has to step up his reading pace if he wants to beat his predecessor in one particular measure: how many books a president can polish off a year.

If Obama is close to finishing the novel, that puts him on less than a 10 book-a-year pace, far less than the close to 100 books President Bush was reportedly able to finish in the same amount of time.

According to former top Bush aide Karl Rove, he and the former president engaged in a friendly wager every year to see who could read more books.

While Obama may have had to put aside “Netherland” last month in favor of pages of court briefs with a Supreme Court vacancy to fill, it nevertheless appears the president has some summer reading to do.

Let’s put aside the fact that maybe it isn’t a virtue for the “leader of the free world” to have lots of spare time to read two books a week, and also take Karl Rove at his word (ha ha) that Bush actually read that amount of books.

Reading isn’t a horse race — it’s not just about how fast you read a book, it’s about how well you understand and retain the information you’ve read.  I was immediately reminded of an anecdote from Al Franken’s Lies (and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them):

In an early Republican presidential debate, Bush was asked what book he was reading.  A biography of Dean Acheson (Truman’s secretary of State), he answered.  Twelve days later, in the next debate, moderator Judy Woodruff asked him what he had learned from the biography.  Bush couldn’t think of anything directly related to the life or work of Dean Acheson and went directly into his stump speech about how we have to be strong to keep the peace.  When John McCain fielded his next question, he answered it quickly and used the rest of his time to talk in great detail about Acheson’s role in the creation of NATO and the Marshall Plan.

Or, to put it more succinctly, as others have before,

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