Bush meets with NK gulag survivor / author
June 14, 2005 11:42 PM   Subscribe

Today, Bush met with Kang Chol Hwan, a survivor of the North Korean prison camps and author of The Aquariums of Pyongyang, a book Bush has read and given to his staffers.
posted by pandaharma (18 comments total)
I usually can't stand Bush but, once in a while, he does something admirable and Kang Chol Hwan's account of his conversation with Bush was really quite impressive.

Maybe I'm just a sucker for propaganda, but if Bush can really do something about the situation, especially about the forced repatriation of the NK refugees by China, then I'll take back at least a third of things I said about him.
posted by pandaharma at 11:44 PM on June 14, 2005

Phaa!, C'mon.
Bush hasn't read this book. Maybe it was read TO him, or suggested as a good read, but I doubt he just picked it up off the supplied shelf. Or did he make a special trip to Borders to pick out his own copy?
posted by Balisong at 11:58 PM on June 14, 2005

Y'know, I'm at least as unhappy with GW as the next guy, but come on. Do you really think he doesn't read any books? He must have faked it amazingly well then, since the book's author had a pretty good impression.

I'm just saying - don't dilute your valid criticism with hyperbole.
posted by freebird at 12:13 AM on June 15, 2005

I like to think of him as an illiterate idiot to keep myself from doubting my own reactionarism.

Things get so much more complicated when those doing actions you despise are human and not manifestations of evil and corruption. It really just slows everything down.
posted by TwelveTwo at 12:25 AM on June 15, 2005

IF he does read books he most certainly hides the fact very well, it wouldn't please the red meat republicans to hear that he might be taking on some big city habit like book-readin'.
posted by Space Coyote at 4:20 AM on June 15, 2005

He went to Yale, for fuck's sake. Presumably he's capable of making it through a couple hundred pages (and I'm as critical of Bush's antiintellectualism as anyone). Southern Accent does not equal stupidity.
posted by Tlogmer at 4:42 AM on June 15, 2005

Southern Accent does not equal stupidity.

No, but a bad one does. How fucking hard is it to fake a southern accent? I know a bunch of other people from Connecticut that could do a better job.
posted by Mayor Curley at 4:51 AM on June 15, 2005

he purchased a spot at yale, for fuck's sake.
posted by quonsar at 5:25 AM on June 15, 2005

TwelveTwo writes "Things get so much more complicated when those doing actions you despise are human and not manifestations of evil and corruption."

This is actually why I prefer to think that he does not read, because if his policies are based on intellect then we're all in trouble, and I find him incalculably more evil because it means he must be making a real effort to ignore as much of reality as he does. [/rant]

What's scary about this is what he might do. Don't forget where rhetoric takes this administration, and how much rhetoric informs Bush's vision of what is possible. By which I mean that he has never before evinced a concern with actually planning for anything in order to make it successful once he starts to talk about it.

On the other hand, the link to the Barone column proves what a bad reader Bush is within the first sentence, when it talks about Sharansky's book. Bush is much more about the Carl Schmidtt vision of political friends than about Sharansky's appropriately skeptical vision of dictatorships. If Bush understood Sharansky's point there would certainly be no extraordinary extradition.
posted by OmieWise at 6:25 AM on June 15, 2005

Does anyone remember when the press asked Bush the simple question, "So what are you reading these days?" and he was flustered with it? Come on. I didn't even consider that he doesn't read anything until he personally made me reconsider. He's made statements that he doesn't even read any newspapers. He has staff brief him on selections, and he certainly couldn't handle the "whatcha readin'?" question, which even I was surprised by.
posted by odinsdream at 7:54 AM on June 15, 2005

Bush's own wife, a librarian, has said he doesn't read much. But I'll give him credit for reading something he fully expected to agree with ideologically.
If you told me he had read a newspaper, or a scientific report, or a philosophy book, or any classic literature from the western (or eastern for that matter) canon, well, I'd call bullshit.
posted by bashos_frog at 8:12 AM on June 15, 2005

it wouldn't please the red meat republicans to hear that he might be taking on some big city habit like book-readin'.

Wow, could you possibly sound more ignorant? By the way, we have electricity in the south also. And a few close minded people who tend to generalize quite a bit. Of course, you'd fit right in.
posted by justgary at 8:56 AM on June 15, 2005

Wow, could you possibly sound more ignorant?

Actually, he could. But he'd have to work at it.

There's nothing I love better than trying to have a conversation that involves Bush where the gut reaction is to push the 'stupid' button.

he purchased a spot at yale, for fuck's sake.

Sure, great. But what then? Did he magically 'purchase' his grades and class work? I've been at lessor universities and have struggled with my classes. I can only imagine the coursework from graduate level studies at an ivy league institution. Is it such an easy assessment to write off his 7+ years of education?

I've also known of very intelligent people who struggled with entry level flying certifications. Yet, Bush was certified to pilot jets. Did he magically purchase that as well?

A great orator he isn't. In all likelihood he has a learning disability as well, something that mangles his speech. Yet, people continue to trot out the tired notion that he is unintelligent based on a one-dimensional, and much blighted view of his accomplishments. You don't have to agree with what he does, says, or believes in. But bring some mature and accurate assessments to the table. Otherwise you run the risk of sounding the yokel yourself.
posted by jazzkat11 at 9:56 AM on June 15, 2005

Take home message: their camps are worse than our camps, so our camps aren't really that bad.

Which works, so long as the standard you'd apply to America is "not quite as bad as a Stalinist tyranny".
posted by orthogonality at 10:17 AM on June 15, 2005

Metafilter: Not quite as bad as Stalinist tyranny.
posted by OmieWise at 1:22 PM on June 15, 2005

I hate the way some people mock others because of their accents. It is important to remember, though, that President Bush has gone out of his way to say he does not read newspapers, when asked who his favorite philosopher was during a primary debate in 2000, answered "Christ" and declined to discuss the work of a philosopher who was not also a religious figure.

It is nice the President is meeting with a survivor of the North Korean prison camps. I am waiting for the meetings with dissidents "from allies such as Uzbekistan, Pakistan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia [who] have not won Oval Office invitations." [via Today's Papers]

Windsor, Malinowski and other activists gave Rice a list of imprisoned political activists in Saudi Arabia and Egypt. They recommended that she press the governments there about their fates during her upcoming trip to the Middle East, much as Reagan did with the Soviet government.
posted by mlis at 1:28 PM on June 15, 2005

I wonder where it ranks on his list in comparison to "My Pet Goat."
posted by keswick at 2:23 PM on June 15, 2005

Did he read it and give it to his staffers so they could get more ideas for Gitmo?
posted by papakwanz at 2:35 PM on June 15, 2005

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