Taking Obama as well read

From The Guardian:

Barack460x276_2 The would-be president’s taste in fiction runs to full-bodied American classics like Moby Dick and heavyweight contemporary novelists such as Philip Roth, Toni Morrison and EL Doctorow (apparently his second favourite author after Shakespeare). Where George W Bush once peevishly retorted that his favourite philosopher was “Jesus Christ”, Obama devours Friedrich (“God is dead”) Nietzsche and Reinhold Niebuhr, the author of the provocative Moral Man and Immoral Society. For good measure, his enthusiastic endorsement of Malcolm X’s autobiography risks stoking the embers of the Jeremiah Wright scandal all over again.

According to Salon, “If Obama is elected he’ll be one of the most literary presidents in recent memory.” Not that there is much competition. Evidence suggests that the voters prefer their presidents to be men of action; street-smart as opposed to cerebral. Richard Nixon and Lyndon Johnson were too busy wheeling and dealing to relax with a hardback, while the current incumbent once joked that he wanted to see more “books with bigger print” in the White House. Even JFK, who won a Pulitzer for his Profiles in Courage, reportedly didn’t range far beyond the works of Ian Fleming.

Yet now even John McCain seems to be getting in on the act. The Republican nominee recently named Hemingway’s For Whom the Bell Tolls as his favourite novel and claimed its hero (a principled American, prepared to give his life in the fight against fascism) is his role model for life. “There is nobody I’d rather be than Robert Jordan,” he said.

More here.