The Washington Times Weekly - - National -

That was Michael Ger­son, for­mer­chief­speech­writer­toPres­i­dent Bush from 2001 to 2006, dis­cussing the pres­i­dent’s “vo­ra­cious” read­ing habits and re­lated per­cep­tions duringaguestap­pear­anceonC-SPAN’s A” with Brian Lamb on Jan 7.

“[A] cou­ple of months ago it was leaked out by some­body that he was read­ingAl­bertCa­mus’‘TheS­tranger.’ Does that track for what you know of Ge­orge Bush?” asked Mr. Lamb.

“Sure,” Mr. Ger­son replied. “The pres­i­dent is a vo­ra­cious reader and rec­om­mended to me a variety of books when I was at the White House, and gave them to me. He rec­om­mended to me [. . .] ‘A Godly Hero,’ the bi­og­ra­phy of William Jen­nings Bryan, a book he’d read.

“Rec­om­mended to me [. . .] the book on Martin Luther King and Lyn­don John­son, the re­la­tion­ship be­tween the two men. And he rec­om­mended to me the pope’s [Bene­dict XVI] book on rel­a­tivism.”

That left Mr. Lamb scratch­ing his head.

“So, why then is his im­age one of — you know, peo­ple scoff at the fact that he reads. And they say he’s not very in­tel­li­gent. I mean, you hear that. Where does that come from? And why? Does he want that kind of an im­age?” the in­ter­viewer asked.

“I don’t know,” Mr. Ger­son rea­soned. “Through­out his ca­reer, in some­ways,he’sben­e­fit­ed­frombe­ing un­der­es­ti­mated. [. . .] The as­sump­tion would be that he, you know, that he would fail. And, of course, we suc­ceeded in a variety of th­ese set­tings, and cer­tain peo­ple al­ways seem to be shocked and sur­prised.”

Of­fered Mr. Ger­son: “I think the pres­i­dent is — he’s not anti-in­tel­lec­tual, but he is anti-elit­ist.”

John McCaslin, whose col­umn is na­tion­ally syn­di­cated, can be reached at 202/636-3284 or jm­c­caslin@wash­ing­ton­times.com.

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