January 4, 2011

Michael Steele says his favorite book is “War and Peace” and he quotes the first line as: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”

D'oh! Bad times for Michael Steele. The 5 candidates for RNC were asked, in their debate, what's their favorite book? It's not like anybody else said anything good. ("To Kill a Mockingbird" — give me a break!)

The actual opening lines of "War and Peace":

"Well, Prince, so Genoa and Lucca are now just family estates of the Buonapartes. But I warn you, if you don't tell me that this means war, if you still try to defend the infamies and horrors perpetrated by that Antichrist — I really believe he is Antichrist — I will have nothing more to do with you and you are no longer my friend, no longer my 'faithful slave,' as you call yourself! But how do you do? I see I have frightened you- sit down and tell me all the news.""
Here's "A Tale of Two Cities":
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way — in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.
Pretty much the same thing, no? Close enough for RNC work.

68 comments:

Sixty Grit said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sixty Grit said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
t-man said...

Surprise! No one chose Lolita?

Sixty Grit said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
YoungHegelian said...

And to think people make fun of Palin for being dim!

After years of being around political hacks here in DC, I can tell you that what most of them know best is their own ambition.

If they can't use a piece of knowledge in the next two weeks it isn't worth knowing.

Comrade X said...

It was the best of times, it was the blurst of times..

Curtiss said...

It will be a far, far better rest that he goes to, than we have ever known.

edutcher said...

That one was no honest mistake. If he'd said, "Happy families are all the same...", you could forgive him for getting his Tolstoy confused; this, no way.

Ron said...

Got him blog hits, didn't it? Dumb sells.

William said...

As a I remember it, the subtext of A Tale of Two Cities was about war and peace. He probably had a senior moment similar to when Gerald Ford confused Poland and Sweden during a debate. I'd give him a pass on this. I'd be more critical of the ones who chose George W. Bush's new book or the Reagan diaries. Egregious brown nosing is part of a politician's skill set, but it should be done with greater subtlety.

Clyde said...

You're acting like it's a big effing deal, but if it was Biden, it would have been just another day at the office.

Steele's reason to be re-elected to his RNC post is "We won." That's a misreading of the last election, though. The Republicans were the alternative to the Democrats in 2010, and the Democrats LOST, big time. Just because you're the only lemming left standing on top of the cliff after the others all plunge off doesn't make you a winner.

Marshal said...

I thought he was headed for high office even after he lost the MD Senate race. But now that chance is gone.

He made the same mistake as many "moderates" from liberal states: he accepted the liberal cultural view and based his criticized conservatism from that perspective. It showed that at heart he accepts the liberal worldview even if he largely disagrees with their specific policy remedies.

Unfortunately he will probably conclude that this outcome proves the liberal worldview correct rather than understanding his acceptance of that vision is unacceptable to those he would lead.

Michael said...

What a moron!! Only a Democrat could be that fucking stupid. He was a plant all along.

Marshal said...

William,

I'd say it's about the effects of a society which has internalized class hatred.

Hagar said...

What the RNC chairman should be like is above my paygrade, but considering who appear to be against Mr. Steele, I think I am rather for him.


Wv: pawab - RNC chairman?

The Crack Emcee said...

The man's an idiot. A wannabe hip-hop idiot.

If anyone really cared about "the image of black people" neither he or Obama would have a job.

tim maguire said...

It's a dumb question anyway. The literate ones would like to say "The Prince," but realize, as Machiavelli himself could have told them, that it would be unwise to be honest.

The illiterate ones would like to say "War and Peace" but will resist for fear of blowing the opening sentence.

Christy said...

What a disappointment Steele has been! In the best of times he would have been adequate, maybe even good at his job. In these worst of times he has been totally inadequate. Full disclosure: I voted for him in his Senate race.

And what is wrong with To Kill a Mockingbird? A cousin of mine just named her kid Atticus.

Marshal said...

"And what is wrong with To Kill a Mockingbird?"

Nothing's wrong with the book. It's obvious pandering to name it as your favorite.

Palladian said...

A Sale of Two Titties.

Palladian said...

I love to quote the first line of my favorite book!

Of Man's first disobedience, and the fruit of that forbidden tree whose mortal taste brought death into the world, and all our woe, with loss of Eden, till one greater Man restore us, and regain the blissful seat,  sing, Heavenly Muse, that, on the secret top of Oreb, or of Sinai, didst inspire that Shepherd who first taught the chosen seed in the beginning how the heavens and earth rose out of Chaos: or, if Sion hill delight thee more, and Siloa's brook that flowed fast by the oracle of God, I thence invoke thy aid to my advent'rous song, that with no middle flight intends to soar above the Aonian mount, while it pursues things unattempted yet in prose or rhyme.

Quaestor said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Quaestor said...

How I dread insipid questions like "what is your favorite fill in the blank." This is particularly irksome when the question is part of an automated credential recovery system. What is your favorite song? What is your favorite restaurant? Jeez... AT&T broadband is particularly bad about this. They offer you a selection of canned security questions, each one unparalleled in forgettable stupidity except by all the others, and then require that you choose two. A system that allows one to compose and answer an original security question is far superior.

However, when a journalist asks a what's your favorite question it makes me angry and frustrated. What am I expected to learn from the answer, that the interviewed person is even more neuron deprived than I had suspected, not to mention the interviewer.

wv: ditiness - the quality of being dity

Timon said...

That was very interesting. What does it mean?

Priebus: I'm a pompous jackass.
Wagner: I'm a useless functionary
Cino: Please don't rape me, Mr. Steele
Steele: Yo girl, check out my big brain

Methadras said...

My favorite book. The Wheel of Time series.

MadisonMan said...

I just read At Home by Bryson, which was interesting, and the latest Agatha Raisin whodunit, which is an easy read, and A Caribbean Mystery by Christie.

Who can think up a favorite book out of hundreds? It's not a constant thing in my experience.

Marshal said...

Methadras said...
My favorite book. The Wheel of Time series.

Only half is worthy: the first 5-6 plus the last two. I like George Martin's series better. I highly recommend if you haven't read it.

Sigivald said...

"At The Mountains Of Madness" would get me to vote for nearly anyone.

DADvocate said...

Best to keep your mouth shut and be thought a fool than to open it and remove all doubt.

Why is it so important to intellectual? How much good have the intellectuals really done for the world?

Revenant said...

I like George Martin's series better. I highly recommend if you haven't read it.

Personally I would recommend waiting to see if he finishes it. Spare yourself the frustration. :)

Marshal said...

"Personally I would recommend waiting to see if he finishes it. Spare yourself the frustration. :)"

Ha! Too late for me, but a worthwhile warning to others.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

I like George Martin's series better. I highly recommend if you haven't read it.

Personally I would recommend waiting to see if he finishes it. Spare yourself the frustration. :)

No kidding!!! We have been waiting years (it seems like) for the next installment.

Maguro said...

Most politicians have probably written more books than they've read.

Pogo said...

Why does anyone still ask this stupid question?

No one will give an honest answer, and mistakes like this are the only possibility other than the usual bullshit pandering.

Even Wheel Of Fortune figured out RSTLNE.
So journolists, ask something useful, why don'cha?

David said...

He should just Steele away into the mists.

Maguro said...

And what is wrong with To Kill a Mockingbird?

Preachy and formulaic. A literary after-school special.

Youngblood said...

"It was the best of times, it was the blurst of times?!"

Revenant said...

No kidding!!! We have been waiting years (it seems like) for the next installment.

It has been five years so far. :(

I agree with you about it being a much better series than The Wheel of Time. I read eight books in that series and then gave up.

rhhardin said...

May it please Heaven that the reader, emboldened, and become momentarily as fierce as what he reads, find without loss of bearings a wild and sudden way across the desolate swamps of these sombre, poison-filled pages. For unless he bring to his reading a rigorous logic and mental application at least tough enough to balance his distrust, the deadly issues of this book will lap up his soul as water does sugar.

- Maldoror

Shanna said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ann Althouse said...

"And what is wrong with To Kill a Mockingbird?"

It has no moral complexity. It's a heavy-handed lesson. Well-told, but pretty cartoonish. And what is the lesson? It's that those other people, those terrible people who are nothing like you, are evil racists. Too easy!

R.L. Hunter said...

I'd be more impressed if one of them had said the Twilight series.

When are these idiots going to learn
that we don't want to be ruled by a bunch of pretentious "intellectual" elitists, but instead led by a commonsense pragmatic everyman?

reader_iam said...

I thought Anuzis' choice was interesting.

reader_iam said...

It might even have been a truthful answer.

Pogo said...

"Well-told, but pretty cartoonish. And what is the lesson? It's that those other people, those terrible people who are nothing like you, are evil racists."

The race discussion was more complex than that, but because it was a child's view, the reasons explaining why people are tribal when adults can only be only hinted at.

The compassion for the girl who falsely accuses is interesting, and the unpleasant behavior of a racist black churchmember is unexpected. And the understanding of a child's view of the world is often quite good.

However, it became a cartoon in how it has since been taught and done in film and plays, leaving out all complexity.

traditionalguy said...

Steele misquoted an author's name, but he said what he wanted to say. Point for Steele. He was a succor installed 2 years ago by a GOP in full retreat until Obama's 8 year reign ended. And he is also an intelligent Black man...the only other one in the GOP politics at the time. But a funny thing happened on the way to the forum when Palin, who had only begun to fight, lead a 2009 insurgency against Obama and his policies. Now, suddenly last summer, the GOP's Brahmins want their job back so that they can rig the 2012 convention . Steele is the honest man who is hard to find, so determined to keep the job and continue playing fair with the outlaw Palinistas. So he has been slandered by the usual set of false accusations of mismanagement by a dumb, over sexed black man that usually end a victim's career in DC. The fact that he will make a macho response to them makes me really like him more.(various literary and cultural phrases are in this comment...so guess who wrote them).

Pogo said...

I would rather know what books they have read most recently.

Pogo said...

Ah, the hell with it.

You want race complexity, TKAM ain't it.

I read it for the narration; I find it oddly comforting.

I skip all the trial stuff completely.

Robert R. said...

"At The Mountains Of Madness" would get me to vote for nearly anyone.


If someone answered that, I'd suspect that they're actually honest and not trying to impress me. And that they have good taste in horror. Same with most of Lovecraft's latter works.

Palladian said...

"When are these idiots going to learn
that we don't want to be ruled by a bunch of pretentious "intellectual" elitists, but instead led by a commonsense pragmatic everyman?"

When are idiots going to learn that we don't want to be ruled or led by anyone, save ourselves?

Richard Dolan said...

It's all well and good to poke fun at Steele's slip. But the fact that he felt a need to name a famous book he doesn't seem all that familiar with is heartening in a way. It's the compliment that anxious mediocrity pays to something it knows to be better, even if it doesn't know anything else.

(And Palladian's choice of Paradise Lost is only one of many attributes that sets him apart.)

bgates said...

if you still try to defend the infamies and horrors perpetrated by that Antichrist — I really believe he is Antichrist — I will have nothing more to do with you and you are no longer my friend

You'd think a guy whose job for the last two years has involved going on tv to defend the Republicans would have that phrasing memorized by now.

Roux said...

Can't he just go away.... sheesh.

Maguro said...

At least he didn't claim that the original title was War, What is it Good For?

Big Mike said...

Close enough for RNC work.

We'll be the judge of that, thank you very much.

Methadras said...

Marshal said...

Methadras said...
My favorite book. The Wheel of Time series.

Only half is worthy: the first 5-6 plus the last two. I like George Martin's series better. I highly recommend if you haven't read it.


Yes, I've read R.R. Martins books too. Like them very much. What's actually funny is how Jordan and Martin sort of goof on each other in their respective books and what-not.

Methadras said...

Revenant said...

I agree with you about it being a much better series than The Wheel of Time. I read eight books in that series and then gave up.


What did it in for you? All the braid pulling or the female hurumphing?

HDHouse said...

Hey a books a book. covers. pages. they all look the same to him.

Quaestor said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Quaestor said...

Yes, HDHouse, a book is a book. Front cover, back cover and meaningless scribble in between. Just like the states of the union... Wisconsin, New Jersey, California, Ruritania... just 57 geographic abstractions to bore and confuse the President.

Penny said...

Palladian said... "When are idiots going to learn that we don't want to be ruled or led by anyone, save ourselves?"

I suspect that will happen right around the time we elect the first artist as President of the United States.

Revenant said...

What did it in for you? All the braid pulling or the female hurumphing?

Actually I miscounted -- checking Wikipedia I see that I made it through 10 books. I gave up after "Crossroads of Twilight", which had about 40 pages of plot development spread out over 900 pages of typing.

Revenant said...

On a somewhat related note, there are some funny reviews of Crossroads of Twilight on Amazon.

Skeptical said...

I know the first line of War and Peace because in a series of old Peanuts strips Snoopy decides to read War and Peace, one word a day. Causes a tiff between Woodstock and him.

Skeptical said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Marshal said...

"HDHouse said...

Hey a books a book. covers. pages. they all look the same to him."

Racist.

MadisonMan said...

know the first line of War and Peace because in a series of old Peanuts strips Snoopy decides to read War and Peace, one word a day. Causes a tiff between Woodstock and him.

Which was a great start to the tale of Snoopy fighting the Mean Cat next door over an old yellow glove.

LutherM said...

Re: the Wisconsin State Employee Althouse's criticism of books:
TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD
"is a far, far better work than she could ever write".

(Personally, I remember fondly "A Farewell To Arms",
and, in a different genre, "A Coney Island Of The Mind")