Karl Rove, who (big surprise) has a competitive streak, had a contest with George W. Bush to see who could read the most books. They recorded the number of books, as well as the number of pages, on a card. Six months into 2008, Bush had read 91 and Rove had read 93. Now really – 91 books in six months? This number makes sense for student or a book reviewer, and might work if you are a taxi driver or a computer tech (where you can read while programs load, etc.), or if you work in a calling center and have some down time. But when you are supposed to be running a country, managing a war, etc., you might want to rethink your priorities if you are reading that many books! I have to admit that I really want to see the list – what was he reading? Did he remember anything he read? Or, maybe he was just skimming the books.
I almost had to put this book down several times last night, but I dutifully made it through chapters 8 and 9. The arrogance of these people. And if people don’t follow the “party line” they are criticized, even when the party line is wrong! Warning – political rant ahead, unavoidable: I hear people complaining about illegal immigration all the time. Latimer distills the Republican party line to the following, “Many conservatives welcome immigrants who come to this country, stand in line, and play by the rules.” This thinking might sound fair and logical, but it reflects an ignorance, willful or otherwise, of history – many of the illegal immigrants we are complaining about (let’s face it – the ones from Mexico) are following unwritten rules that have been in place for generations, and are part of the way our country is run. And that leaves out a host of other reasons why this thinking is completely wrong (globalization, colonialization, etc.).
Latimer also says, of environmental policy, “The small but merry band of conservatives it the White House–who were suspicious of climate change and the movement behind it–were opposed to any shift in our policy.” What about the science behind it? He criticizes the Council on Environmental Quality and suggests that they are not useful to Republicans. Don’t these people have children that they worry about? It is a left-leaning position (therefore a bad one) to force businesses to limit CO2 emissions? That’s willful ignorance and arrogance at its finest.
And he doesn’t like President Jimmy Carter at all. He says that he used to challenge himself to write a standby eulogy for this man who has earned a Nobel Peace prize and who is a longstanding champion of human rights, this man Latimer refers to as “a hopeless, embarrassing, disaster.”
At the end of chapter 8, Latimer is inducted into a society for speechwriters. He attends an event with people who quietly wrote some of the most memorable and meaningful words in our country’s history. He looks around and feels sorry for himself that he is a part of an administration that will not achieve greatness. “We didn’t have a boss like Kennedy or Reagan whose oratorical gifts might burn our words into history…Mediocrity was the highest level our words would likely reach.” Indeed. All that sucking up for nothing.
Other posts about Speech-less:
Post 1: Speech-less, by Matt Latimer
Post 2: I Laughed Until I Cried
Post 3: The Donald Rumsfeld is a Stand Up Guy
Post 4: I Miss President Bartlet
Post 5: Ninety-One Books in Six Months