You would expect President Obama’s summer reading list to be criticized if he’d picked up a copy of, say, Fixing the Economy for Dummies, or maybe something by Howard Zinn. But perhaps it shouldn’t come as a surprise that conservative critics find ways to nitpick Obama’s book choices, even when they’re just mainstream, widely acclaimed works of fiction. The National Review’s Tevi Troy does exactly that in his column today, which we thought would eventually reveal itself as a sharp satire of the right’s knee-jerk tendency to find faults with any inconsequential thing Obama ever does. But it’s not. He means it all. It is mind blowing.
After naming all the books Obama purchased in Martha’s Vineyard or brought with him there, Troy proclaims it, “the oddest assortment of presidential reading material ever disclosed.” What exactly is so odd about it?
Really? We think National Review writer Tevi Troy is literally the only person alive who would make that charge. Or is he?
Taking a “break from harsh reality” is what vacations are all about. That’s not the same as being “out of touch with reality,” which makes it sound as if Obama can’t separate the plot of his books from real-world events. Perhaps fiction is actually this confusing in Troy’s experience.
Tevi Troy’s Bizarre Rules of Presidential Reading: It’s okay for presidents to read mysteries, and to admit to reading mysteries — just don’t tell us the titles!
Amazing. If Evel Knievel witnessed the leap that Troy just made, he’d say, “Wow, I guess I suck at leaping.” Let’s cut to the end of this thoughtful piece of analysis.
If Troy thinks Obama should only read material that directly relates to his duties as president, he could make that argument. Maybe Obama really should spend his free time boning up on economic theory or counterinsurgency methods. But that’s not what Troy is saying. He seems to think that any work of nonfiction would inherently make Obama appear more “on top of things and in control” than any work of fiction. So would a Gandhi biography help Obama create jobs? Would a history of the Civil War help him revive the economy?
Most important: Do any normal people even give a shit what books the president brings on vacation?
What’s Obama Reading? [National Review]