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After Jon Stewart’s hilarious take on Bush’s reading of Albert Camus’  The Stranger, I really had to dig a bit deeper and discovered that his entire summer reading list is available on the C-Span website. 

For those that are making much of this, however, The Stranger is a relatively “quick read,” as I believe that the President himself said, and an easily digestible read, if one doesn’t understand much about existentialism.  One needn’t know much about philosophy to appreciate the story as a parable, I suppose, albeit a parable with a rather flat ending.

But, apparently, Bush discussed the novel’s theoretical underpinnings with Tony Snow, who now reveals himself as no intellectual slouch, tutoring the President in the finer points of existentialism, as it were.  Now, really, could you see Scott McClellan doing that?  Apparently, Mr. Snow wasn’t hired just for his good looks.

The President’s list, which may exceed most in number if not depth, includes much history (American, alas, not Mideast) and some baseball. Surprisingly, toward the bottom of the list, are two of the more widely-appreciated Shakespeare plays, Macbeth and Hamlet.  One must assume that the President is giving these challenging works a second, more mature read since he studied them in boarding school, prior, of course, to his admission to Yale.  Now, at his press conference, the President said that he read “three Shakespeares.”  So unless the President was confounded by the length of Hamlet and only thought that he read three plays rather than two, we must assume that he enjoyed Hamlet and Macbeth so much that, on his own initiative, he proceeded to read a third play, one that wasn’t even on the list!  If only the average high school student could be so self-directed.

And only a week or two ago, Scarborough Country devoted a whole show to the question “Is President Bush an Idiot?”  Perhaps there was some confusion there; perhaps they meant to report that the President was reading The Idiot?

I don’t know, but it is obvious that the President has come a long way since My Pet Goat, and, were he reading Hamlet instead, one could better understand his inability to pull himself away from it for eight whole minutes, given the footnotes and all. 

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