Bookless Versus Clueless

Posted: Aug 26, 2007 12:01 AM
Bookless Versus Clueless

When a new Associated Press-Ipsos poll found, as reported by the Associated Press, that "liberals read more books than conservatives," the president of the Association of American Publishers promptly shoved her foot in her mouth.

Pat Schroeder, the former Democratic congresswoman from Colorado, proclaimed, "The Karl Roves of the world have built a generation that just wants a couple slogans: 'No, don't raise my taxes, no new taxes.' It's pretty hard to write a book saying, 'No new taxes, no new taxes, no new taxes,' on every page."

She also told AP that liberals "can't say anything in less than paragraphs. We really want the whole picture, want to peel the onion."

Maybe you shouldn't pay any attention to me. According to Schroeder, as a conservative, I've got a bumper sticker for brains. Silly me, I looked into the poll -- which liberals have hailed as proof of their intellectual superiority -- and there's not a lot there in "the whole picture." The poll found that among people polled who read at least one book in the last year, liberals read nine books and conservatives read eight.

When I called Michael Gross, associate vice president of Ipsos public affairs, to find out more about the Ipsos poll, he told me the one-book difference "is within the margin of error, it's not a statistically significant difference."

The poll also found that moderates who said they read at least one book a year, on average, read five books a year. By Schroeder's lights, moderates must be really simple-minded sloganeers.

As a conservative, I am not proud to read that 34 percent of conservatives -- as opposed to 22 percent of liberals and moderates -- said they had not read a book within the last year.

Then again, because the poll did not ask people if they read newspapers or magazines, Gross noted, "I don't think it says anything about people's general level of information."

Then there's the quality issue. A person could read nine romance novels in a year and qualify as Aristotelian by Schroeder's logic.

The sad news in the poll was the finding that 1 in 4 adults admitted to not having read a book in the last year. Those adults are missing out.

Which makes one wonder: Why did Schroeder, who is supposed to champion books, choose to alienate one-third of the American public, those who self-identify as conservatives? She adds new meaning to the phrase "peeling the onion."

In her rush to brand the right as a bunch of illiterates, Schroeder had the poor sense to go after an avid reader, Karl Rove, who has been winning a heated competition with Bush as to which of the two can read the most books. Rove recently told Rush Limbaugh that he beat Bush last year. The Score: Rove, 110 books; Bush, 94.

If Schroeder really wanted to show how big-picture her thinking is, she might have pointed out the Rove-Bush book competition as an example of what conservatives can do. That is, she might have tried to promote book sales.

Instead, she fed into all the happy snipes some nine-book Democrats throw at GOP -- most notably the president's -- intelligence, or lack thereof.

Yes, Bush is so dumb he graduated from Yale, earned an MBA from Harvard, was an F-102 fighter pilot -- and was elected Texas governor and U.S. president twice. All his critics should be so stupid.

You see, the Bush-is-dumb crowd is busy looking at the whole picture. Forget the accomplishments; what's important is how Bush mispronounces "nucular."

There is no happier liberal conceit than the notion that lefties are sophisticated thinkers, while conservatives are pea-brains. So eager are Dems to believe those self-laudatory stereotypes that Schroeder glommed onto the poll results without understanding what they were. And were not.

Let me note that both parties have their share of pinheads -- partisans who not only do not think, but also do not want to.

But in her zeal to brand conservatives as bookless simpletons, Schroeder reveals herself to be rather uncurious about the details of the AP-Ipsos poll.

While she berated conservatives for buying into slogans, she flaunted her prejudices. Her idea of thinking in paragraphs: not letting facts get in the way.