Reading Isn't Fundamental

Right about now is when it could come in real handy to have a President who reads. A book learning wonk. A guy not allergic to the printed word. George W. Bush even admitted it himself. I think his exact quote was: "I don't read." And you know what, I believe him. Then this summer, something happened. I think it was part of that midterm campaign thing, when the President claimed his beach reading list included Camus' "The Stranger" and what he referred to as "Three Shakespeares." Three Shakespeares? Sounds like a customer at Baskin- Robbins ordering up a triple scoop of smart. And very suspicious coming from a man famous for struggling through the same page of "My Pet Goat" for 10 minutes.

The whole reading deal is important here because he should have been tempted to give the Iraq Study Group Report a brief scan before repeating "The Study Group agrees with me." Unh. No. They don't. He said this during a joint press conference with Tony Blair that could have been a Tivo of any of his previous eighty gazilliion press conferences with Tony Blair. Tony looks and sounds like a statesman and George like an eighth grader trying to fake his way through a book report on a classic he didn't bother to skim. Does the term "Cliff Notes" have any meaning here?

At the risk of switching milieus, we're stuck in "Groundhog Day." Doesn't matter what happens, we wake up the next morning and instead of hearing Sonny & Cher singing "I Got You Babe" we get the president playing the same lame game he has for three years: "Its a tough time. Going to take some hard work. We're working hard." His supporters say he's resolute. You know what, resolute isn't always a good thing. Butt cancer is resolute.

We won't even get into the ironic nature of his "hard work" mantra. How odd to be coming from a guy who pre- president was the poster child for social promotion. But an exhortation to hard work isn't the only blunted arrow in his nebulous quiver. In response to what measures he might take based on the report, he gravely intoned, "We will take every proposal seriously and will act in a timely fashion," which is Presidential Dismissal Speak for, "yeah, whatever."

The Baker-Hamilton Group's report was not the chronicle of clarity itself. It came to the considered opinion that ... Iraq is messed up and mostly, its our fault. For this we spent a million dollars? Too bad they didn't have time to get into other blistering exposes like, the Pacific Ocean is moist. Wood is not your foremost option for conducting electricity. Wine- peanut butter -- not a match. The board goes back.

The President refused to comment on specifics in the report by dipping into his bottomless bag of vague generalities. "My message is this: I want to work with the Congress, I want to work with people in both parties." Yeah, sure he does, the same way a five year old with a magnifying glass wants to work with ants. The bi- partisan Study Group provided 79 recommendations for alleviating the chaos in Iraq. Unfortunately none of them involved the President and his entire Cabinet resigning, proving perhaps, this study group should've studied more.

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