KILLING AN ARAB
I kinda wondered this myself when I read the story: Why is George Bush reading on his vacation in Crawford, Texas, an existentialist novel about a man who impulsively and without provocation kills an Arab?
John Dickerson gives it some more thought over at Slate:
Unhappy tales of East meets West are found in the papers every day, so presumably the president was looking for more, but his aides will not tell us what he made of the story of a remorseless killer of Arabs. White House spokesman Tony Snow said Bush “found it an interesting book and a quick read” and talked about it with aides. “I don’t want to go too deep into it, but we discussed the origins of existentialism,” said Snow.
Oh please, Tony, go into it. This is no time to be vague. The president uttered the word “crusade” a single time when talking about fighting terrorists and critics in Europe and the Middle East still use it as proof that his war aims are motivated by 11th-century wide-eyed religious zealotry. Surely someone is going to think that Bush read the book because he identifies with Meursault. There’s got to be another explanation. Does his experience in Iraq push him to read works replete with themes of angst, anxiety, and dread? Was the president trying to gain insight into the thinking of Europeans who are skeptical of his plan for democracy in the Middle East, founded as it is on the idea of a universal rational essence that existentialists reject? Did he just want to read something short for his truncated vacation? This may be the first time that national security demands an official version of literary criticism. We want a book report!