The Taliban is resurgent in parts of Afghanistan and Osama bin Laden lives undetected in the caves bordering Pakistan. In Iraq, the White House surge of U.S. troops isn't working as planned and American soldiers, along with Iraqi civilians, continue to die. Here at home, George W. Bush's promise to rebuild the great city of New Orleans is as deep and meaningful as Britney Spears' commitment to marriage. Oh, and dozens of Americans die every day because they lack affordable housing and access to health care.
I would think those problems, and hundred of others worth addressing full-time, would take up not only a good deal of the president's official business day, but also his private down-time and what he chooses to read. Boy, was I wrong. It's business as usual for Bush and his reading material these days reveals how pressing world and domestic issues are not taking up all of his time.
From the SF Chronicle this morning:
"[Chronicle reporter Joan Ryan was at the White House Correspondents Dinner this weekend and her husband,] Fox sportscaster Barry Tompkins, positioned himself [near President Bush] to take a photograph.
"Your husband has a great tuxedo," the president said.
Ryan informed Bush that Tompkins, being a sportscaster who covered a lot of boxing, owned many tuxedos.
Bush lit up.
"I'm reading a book now on Arnold Rothstein," the president said. Rothstein was the gambling kingpin most known for fixing the 1919 World Series, the infamous Black Sox scandal.
"They say he fixed the Dempsey-Tunney fight!" Bush gushed.
The two men then joked for several minutes about characters in boxing ...
As of today, it is only 636 days until Dubya leaves office. And when he does, he'll have even more time than he does now to read for fun, and tend to chores on his ranch, then now, when he should be reading more serious tomes, ones that might guide the country and some of the world to take care of the messes he has visited upon us all.
For some historical perspective about Bush's reading materials, have a look at what one of his top advisors said about the him and the Iraq Study Group book of recommendations. From the December 6, 2006, broadcast of PBS's "News Hour":
RAY SUAREZ: Has the president read the report of the Iraq Study Group?
DAN BARTLETT: I can't say that he's read it completely. We've given him a pretty full day today, but he did have a very constructive conversation with the members of the commission.