Saturday, September 30, 2006

Laura Bush needs a Thesaurus

This essay written by First Lady Laura Bush on the books that influenced her to fight against illiteracy has to be read in full to believe, but here's one excerpt:

"Little Women," Louisa May Alcott's book about a Civil War family, is one I remember vividly, first from reading with my mother when I was little. She read it to me before I could read. The impression it made just shows how important it is to have parents who read and who read to you. That's how every one of us librarians ended up where we did: making our careers out of reading because we loved it so much. First I was a teacher and then, since what I liked best about teaching was reading and sharing literature with children, I became a librarian. Now it is the whole focus of my life, really. And it all started with my mother's love of reading books like "Little Women" to me. I went on to read it on my own, then with friends and my own children.

Reading this essay by Laura Bush about books she has read or been read leads me to think that what she really needs to read or have read to her is a thesaurus.

Unless the intended audience for this Wall Street Journal essay is second graders, it just might not be the First Lady who is the "brains" of this family.

I wasn't expecting a New York Times book review, but other than namechecking the Civil War, all we learned from the First Lady is that she likes to dip into, devour, take in, brush up on, appreciate, leaf through, and enjoy a good book every now and then (Link for Laura).

I didn't know that the first lady was a Dostoyevsky fan.

Not sure "The Brothers Karamazov" qualifies as a "fun" read, but it does contain the most spiritual writing that the King of Existentialism ever wrote, in the form of a parable called The Grand Inquisitor (read the Wikipedia article if you're not familiar with this tale involving Jesus Christ). My tastes run more toward Dostoyevsky's "Notes from the Underground" and "Crimes and Punishment" but I wouldn't call any of his work "fun."

To be fair, Laura Bush does add "[m]aybe I shouldn't say 'fun,' given that it is about spiritual struggle, but to read it over and over again at various times in my life was always rewarding." Still silly to bring up "fun" at all, I say, and when she also writes that there's "always a sort of Texas heat" when she returns to the book because she once thumbed through it "while sitting by a swimming pool in Houston," it doesn't make me think more highly of her scholarship. Dostoyevsky isn't exactly pool reading, but I wonder if that's where the President partaked in some Camus.

(Note: a commenter notes, "partaked" should be "partook")

On a more serious note, from my latest Raw Story article, "State of Denial: Two months before 9/11, Rice gave the 'brush-off' to 'impending terrorist attack' warning":

According to a new book written by Washington Post investigative reporter Bob Woodward, two months before the September 11 attacks, then National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice gave the "brush-off" to an "impending terrorist attack" warning by former C.I.A. director George J. Tenet and his counterterrorism coordinator.


Saturday's New York Times review claims that in Woodward's book, Rice "is depicted as a presidential enabler, ineffectual at her job of coordinating interagency strategy and planning."

"For instance, Mr. Woodward writes that on July 10, 2001, Mr. Tenet and his counterterrorism coordinator, J. Cofer Black, met with Ms. Rice to warn her of mounting intelligence about an impending terrorist attack, but came away feeling they’d been given 'the brush-off' — a revealing encounter, given Ms. Rice’s recent comments, rebutting former President Bill Clinton’s allegations that the Bush administration had failed to pursue counterterrorism measures aggressively before 9/11," writes Michiko Kakutani.


Another Post article slated for Sunday's edition provides even more details.

"For months, Tenet had been pressing Rice to set a clear counterterrorism policy, including specific presidential orders, called "findings," that would give the CIA stronger authority to conduct covert action against bin Laden," the uncredited Post article reports. "Perhaps a dramatic appearance -- Black called it an 'out of cycle' session, beyond Tenet's regular weekly meeting with Rice -- would get her attention."

J. Cofer Black later said that "[t]he only thing we didn't do was pull the trigger to the gun we were holding to her head."

Full article at Raw Story.


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