The Very Hungry Caterpillar

Understanding what a president reads can provide surprising insights.  Bill Clinton is a legendary reader and it shows.  George W. Bush surprised everybody when his memoirs revealed that he was a voracious reader as described here.

The most startling nugget to emerge from George W. Bush’s memoirs, currently hidden behind the whopping paywall, is that he had a competition with his political adviser Karl Rove to see who could read the most history books in a year.

Rove won with 110, but Dubya wasn’t far behind – he read 95 in all; that’s 37,343 pages, he relays proudly. So he was reading 350-odd pages of serious history every four days. That’s pretty impressive when your day job is running the free world and your critics have marked you down as semi-retarded. I doubt Obama is getting through that much; he may not even have played 95 rounds of golf this term.

Bush obviously made a mistake by getting in a reading war with this guy:

2012-10-30 Halloween - Hamrove

Putting aside American politicians, it is worth noting that today Mexico is starting a new 6 year adventure with Enrique Peña Nieto.  He has been sworn today as Mexico’s new president.  Since it is happening South of the border, you can expect to hear very little about it from your local mainstream media outlet.  One way to gain insight into the new Mexican president is to retell a story about when Peña Nieto answered a question about what books had influenced him the most.  The following is my translation of this spanish language link to a CNN story, so reader beware.  The candidate Enrique Peña Nieto attended a respected conference on books and a reporter asked Peña Nieto a question about what books stood out for him.  He answered:

“Books I have read that lifted my spirit in my vocation as a politician.  There were various books.  “La Silla de Aguila,” de Krauze,” he said to the press at the conference [a conference on books] as an answer to a question of which books stood out to him in his life.

Hours after his press conference, through Twitter, Peña Nieto admitted the error.  “The Imperial Presidency,” is by E. Krauze and “La Silla del Águila,” is by C Fuentes.  Both are books that I enjoyed reading and today I confused them.  I recommend both.”

In the press conference, during more than five minutes, Peña Nieto tried to remember names of books and of authors, but he couldn’t and he had to asked for help from the attendees of the conference in remembering.

“The truth is that when I read books, it happens that I don’t notice the title at all.  For me I focus on the text, and I get the idea of the books from what I have read,” he offered as an excuse to a reporter

Enrique Peña Nieto insisted, at the conference, with the work of Krause: “There is another book by him that I wish I could remember the title, about caudillos, but I don’t remember the title . . . ¿eh?”, intending to listen to someone who would let him know the title, but he still couldn’t ascertain which book he had read.

The only book Peña Nieto was able to name successfully was the Bible.  That is a perfectly natural answer for a politician, but it is hardly satisfying for a room full of book lovers.  Peña Nieto managed to confuse a fictional book set in 2020, “La silla del águila, with a book about Mexican politics from 1940-1996, “La presidencia imperial.”  The best is that he tries to fix his error by explaining that he just isn’t into books for their titles.  That is hilarious because we have a candidate that is all about appearances having to claim that the appearance of a book, with its title, is the least interesting part to him.  Here is the guy who could not care less about appearances.


Brozo who is the equivalent to Jon Stewart in the Mexican media check this video out.  A few minutes into the video thay show clips of Peña Nieto at the book fair trying to see if he can come up with the name of one blasted book that isn’t the Bible.  If you are curious about Brozo, keep an eye out for this guy:


This is reminiscent of Rick Perry’s attempt to name the three agencies he would immediately cut when he was innaugarated.  He managed to name two, but was never able to come up with the third, and finally said, “oops.”  Video here.  Thinking of Rick Perry as president isn’t a bad way to start to understand the frustrations of groups like Yo Soy 132 and Morena.


2 thoughts on “The Very Hungry Caterpillar

  1. armchair

    Thank you, that is the all time classic. Plato is like Lucy with the football for poor Dan Quayle as Charlie Brown. He says, “Danny you can do it, this is your year.” Dan starts reading and pretty soon it’s just a bunch of Pericles this, and Demosthenes that, and blah, blah, blah, and before he knows it he’s flat on his face again.

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