Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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January 3, 2011

WHAT RNC LEADERS READ.... The five main candidates vying for the chairmanship of the Republican National Committee met today for a debate, which by most accounts, was of greater interest to political reporters than RNC members. One of the lighter moments, however, was arguably the most interesting.

Participants were asked a softball: what's your favorite book? The answers varied quite a bit.

Maria Cino's favorite is the classic To Kill a Mockingbird. Reince Priebus named The Reagan Diaries as his first choice. And current RNC Chairman Michael Steele's favorite is War and Peace. [...]

But the real highlight of the exchange came when Ann Wagner responded to the question, saying, "Probably my kitchen table." What was she referring to exactly? Her favorite bar, apparently, which she thought she was being asked. Her favorite book, though, is George W. Bush's new memoir, Decision Points.

The other participant, by the way, Michigan's Saul Anuzis, mentioned Frederic Bastiat's "The Law" as his favorite.

What's more, when Steele answered, he mentioned Tolstoy's War and Peace as his favorite, but then added, "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times." The line, of course, comes from neither Tolstoy nor War and Peace, but rather, Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities.

Raise your hand if you believe Steele actually read War and Peace, and genuinely considers it one of his favorite books.

In any case, picking The Reagan Diaries seems far too easy a choice to be taken seriously, and anyone who considers George W. Bush's ghost-written memoir as their favorite book almost certainly shouldn't be running a major, multi-million-dollar organization.

As for Anuzis, I suppose he gets points for picking something with at least a degree of sophistication, but lest anyone consider him the intellectual of the RNC field, let's not forget that this is the same Anuzis who argued in April 2009 that President Obama's domestic agenda constitutes "economic fascism," not because he believes that, but because use of the word "fascism" helps "raise the consciousness of the average voter."

"We've so overused the word 'socialism' that it no longer has the negative connotation it had 20 years ago, or even 10 years ago," Anuzis said at the time. "Fascism -- everybody still thinks that's a bad thing."

If he's the intellectual of the group, the party's in trouble.

Postscript: Asked for their favorite book, not one candidate mentioned the Christian Bible? Seems like an obvious one.

Steve Benen 4:15 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (32)

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Comments

To be fair, I'm guessing a lot of Christians don't think of the Bible as just a "book." Like it's just another reading selection. But I don't know.

Posted by: Dusty on January 3, 2011 at 4:28 PM | PERMALINK

Perhaps Steele had to read it in college?

Posted by: KurtRex1453 on January 3, 2011 at 4:31 PM | PERMALINK

"And current RNC Chairman Michael Steele's favorite is War and Peace."

That is also a politically tone-deaf answer for today's Rs. Duh, Steele. Jeebus, can't even create a smart lie!

Posted by: r on January 3, 2011 at 4:33 PM | PERMALINK

Good heavens. "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times..."

Not only is Steele so stupid he doesn't realize that's Dickens, but he fails to realize that the US is fast approaching Versaille level income disparities and his own party has been defending it.

Posted by: fourlegsgood on January 3, 2011 at 4:36 PM | PERMALINK

Dusty's observation is accurate, I think. I'm a Christian pastor and I don't think of the Bible as "just a book". My Muslim friends would not consider the Quran as "just a book" either.

I do not believe Steele has actually read "War and Peace." Frankly, I don't believe he's read "A Tale of Two Cities" either. Maybe in high school.

Posted by: revchicoucc on January 3, 2011 at 4:37 PM | PERMALINK

If any of them had half a brain, the right answer would be a deflective, humorous one. I would have gone for "How to Beat Obama," by Me; look for it in November, 2012.

They haven't half a brain among them. I hope they pick the (self-identified) drunk.

Posted by: ManOutOfTime on January 3, 2011 at 4:37 PM | PERMALINK

giving the Bible as the answer is already taken: W did that in a debate in Iowa in 2000 (asked for his favorite political philosopher, while others answered with Hume, Jefferson, Plato, Little Bush said "Jesus Christ." Too bad he never governed like Jesus was his fave political philosopher. but i digress.)

and the historical bit about Anuzis and "economic fascism" is particularly ironic in light of the other half of the "favorite book" question at the RNC debate, where they were asked their "political hero," to which Anuzis answered "Ludwig von Mises," the leading proponent of the extreme Austrian school of libertarian capitalism -- i.e. economic fascism with a fancy name.

Posted by: zeitgeist on January 3, 2011 at 4:38 PM | PERMALINK

Michael Steele feels immediately compelled to tell the largest lie possible. Man, I'm going to miss him.

Posted by: The Guilty Carnivore on January 3, 2011 at 4:39 PM | PERMALINK

No "Going Rogue"?

Posted by: Jenna's Bush on January 3, 2011 at 4:47 PM | PERMALINK

C'mon GOPers, who's up for Hobbes's Leviathan? "Call me Ishmael"

Posted by: scott_m on January 3, 2011 at 4:47 PM | PERMALINK

Equally amusing were the answers to the question: "How many guns do you own?"

(The pawn shop display in Men In Black came in second to the gal with the son at West Point. HOO-AHH!)

Posted by: DAY on January 3, 2011 at 4:50 PM | PERMALINK

Asked for their favorite book, not one candidate mentioned the Christian Bible? Seems like an obvious one.

Who votes for the RNC chair? The rabble don't get a vote, just the elites. You're not going to impress these guys with citing "The Bible" as your favorite book - they're going to either roll their eyes (if they think you're pandering) or figure you should be booted (if they think you're serious). The fundies already control the largest voting bloc to one degree - no point in them controlling the money-making arm too. That would be dangerous.

It's like being surprised that none of them said "Atlas Shrugged". Sure they count on Randians to vote Republican, but that doesn't mean they want to let Randians control their political arm.

Posted by: NonyNony on January 3, 2011 at 4:53 PM | PERMALINK

Oh, Anuzis's choice is pretty in tune with his "economic fascism" crack. Here's a quote from The Law (emphasis added):

"With this in mind, examine the protective tariffs, subsidies, guaranteed profits, guaranteed jobs, relief and welfare schemes, public education, progressive taxation, free credit, and public works. You will find that they are always based on legal plunder, organized injustice."

That's right, he endorsed a book that describes public education as organized injustice. And this was in the 1850s, when I'm pretty sure the alternative to public education for the vast majority would've been no education.

Posted by: matt w on January 3, 2011 at 5:00 PM | PERMALINK

To Kill a Mockingbird? I think Cino just killed his chances by revealing himself as a closet liberal.

Posted by: Speed on January 3, 2011 at 5:01 PM | PERMALINK

What, no love for The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer?

I would have guessed this was the room for it.

Posted by: cld on January 3, 2011 at 5:07 PM | PERMALINK

To be fair, one need not have read a book for it to be a favorite. I'm very fond of a book about child psychics called Small Mediums At Large . I've never read it, but I love that title. Perhaps Steele likes War and Peace for its thickness.

Posted by: hells littlest angel on January 3, 2011 at 5:12 PM | PERMALINK

Steele is actually pretty well educated. If I had to play armchair psychologist, I would say that he is one of those people who is a Republican pretty much only because of so-called "life" issues (He attended a Catholic seminary for a while) and toeing a Republican line has more or less screwed up his entire persona, and he copes by trying to pretend that he's an offbeat, individualistic kind of guy, when he really would rather be like Cory Booker or Adrian Fenty. It's way too late to turn back now.

Posted by: Barbara on January 3, 2011 at 5:14 PM | PERMALINK

I'm surprise no one distinguished between their favorite non-fiction reading (for example, the Bible) and fiction reading (for example, Obama's birth certificate).

Posted by: Egan on January 3, 2011 at 5:21 PM | PERMALINK

@Matt: Anuzis is the love child of the NRA and Ayn Rand.

Posted by: KurtRex1453 on January 3, 2011 at 5:22 PM | PERMALINK

"It's way too late to turn back now."

Sounds like another guy we all know...He can't turn back either. The money's too good.

Posted by: Win-Win on January 3, 2011 at 5:25 PM | PERMALINK

’We've so overused the word 'socialism' that it no longer has the negative connotation it had 20 years ago, or even 10 years ago,’ Anuzis said at the time. ‘Fascism -- everybody still thinks that's a bad thing’.

And, once again, the only fascism we’ve experienced was from the Nazis, who were RIGHTWINGERS.


Posted by: Joe Friday on January 3, 2011 at 5:25 PM | PERMALINK

And, once again, the only fascism we’ve experienced was from the Nazis, who were RIGHTWINGERS
---
Nothing says right wing like National Socialism...

Posted by: Fritz on January 3, 2011 at 5:29 PM | PERMALINK

@NonyNony, maybe the "elite" are the only ones voting for RNC Chair, and maybe they'd THINK ABOUT rolling their eyes if someone were to say that Bible is their favorite book. But they also know that part of the chair gig is appealing to the base, and being able to rattle that prattle without thinking is worth bonus points. Much like having had a friend in high school that knew how to kiss up to your parents without sounding like Eddie Haskell. YOU knew your friend was full of crap, but as long as your parents bought it, it was all good.

I was kind of shocked no one said "The Bible" either. Because for a lot of Evangelicals, it's not just The Good Book. It's the ONLY book. The only other books that are even kind of OK to read are books that interpret and discuss the Bible. Maybe some historical books, as long as the historical figures in question believed in the Bible...or paid a heavy price for their disbelief.

Posted by: slappy magoo on January 3, 2011 at 5:35 PM | PERMALINK

Posted by: slappy magoo on January 3, 2011 at 5:35 PM

I'd just replace D with R, a few words here and there and you're on the money. Especially this:

"YOU knew your friend was full of crap, but as long as your parents bought it, it was all good."

You must have known too, magoo...

Posted by: Timbo on January 3, 2011 at 5:41 PM | PERMALINK

UFB.

That's all I have to say about that..

Posted by: Trollop on January 3, 2011 at 5:54 PM | PERMALINK

Fritz,

Nothing says right wing like National Socialism...

Guess you were home sick that day in school when everybody else learned that Hitler and his fellow RightWing travelers took over a nationalist socialist workers party because they couldn’t get anyone to listen to them on their own ?

The RightWing Nazi Party routinely referred to their political opposition as “Liberals”, “Socialists”, and “Liberal Socialists”.

Sound familiar ?


Posted by: Joe Friday on January 3, 2011 at 6:54 PM | PERMALINK

Hitler and his fellow RightWing travelers took over a nationalist socialist workers party because they couldn’t get anyone to listen to them on their own

Well said, and I would add: they adopted this moniker to cover their own bad faith and ulterior motives much in the same way right-wingers today call themselves "Patriots" "Freedom Fighters" and "Constitutionalists" while at the same tim agitating to repeal elements of the Constitution, constitutional law and legal precedent; gut the power of the government so Big Business can run rampant; and deprive entire sections of society of their rights and protections.

A difference of degree, certainly, but not of kind.

Posted by: trex on January 3, 2011 at 7:15 PM | PERMALINK

If War and Peace really is Steele's favorite book that says a lot about him. My god anyone that's actually read the book needed a two week vacation as soon as they turned the last page.

Posted by: Gandalf` on January 3, 2011 at 7:17 PM | PERMALINK

�Nothing says right wing like National Socialism...�

yes, with all those street battles between Nazi thugs and Communist thugs, and that invasion of the Soviet Union bit and working to create a separate peace with the capitalist allies to fight off the real menace, Communism --you'd think Hitler would have just snapped out of and realized he was a liberal and given Stalin a big wet smooch because gay sex is Socialism Triumphant.

Posted by: cld on January 3, 2011 at 7:42 PM | PERMALINK

"Anuzis is the love child of the NRA and Ayn Rand."
Posted by: KurtRex1453 on January 3, 2011 at 5:22 PM

Not conceivable -- literally.
They're both tops.

Posted by: smartalek on January 3, 2011 at 8:00 PM | PERMALINK

"If he's the intellectual of the group, the party's in trouble."


That suits them fine...anti-intellectualism is a mainstream sentiment within their base...being identified as one does not enamor them to that base. Not to mention the media doesn't even require they have the facts in debate, let alone any intellectual nuance. It's a win - win for the republicans when it comes down to trying to compare them to their opposition. We may snicker all we like, but they maintain the power, whether they are in a majority or not...at least that is how it appears these days.

Posted by: H.Finn on January 3, 2011 at 8:07 PM | PERMALINK

"...gut the power of the government so Big Business can run rampant; and deprive entire sections of society of their rights and protections."

Good thing that bailout never happened! Obama put those bankers in their place:

http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2010/04/21/92637/goldmans-connections-to-white.html

[pick a handle and stick with it or your comments will be deleted -- mod.]

Posted by: Down the Hall on January 3, 2011 at 10:43 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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