White House spokesman Tony Snow informed us recently that Bush enjoyed his 10-day vacation from Washington and had made quick work of the Algerian-born writer's Albert Camus’ 1946 novel The Stranger. While some may not consider that notion peculiar, most college students who have ever read this in literature class can testify that there is no such thing as “quick work” of The Stranger. CliffsNotes were invented for agonizingly inane novels just like this.
For those of you not familiar with the novel, the only thing MORE obtuse and unintelligible than the book was the first single by The Cure entitled “Killing an Arab”, which was based on the same novel. In the area of nihilism, they both amount to the same….absolutely nothing. At least the single (released in the early days of New Wave on the album Boys Don’t Cry) added some interesting guitar licks to the confusion. But if you simply must know what it’s about, here it is in a nutshell.
The main character receives a telegram regarding his mother’s death. He goes to the beach, meets a girl, gets into a fight, kills an Arab. He is arrested, becomes fodder for some endless, extraneous existential dialog and is executed by guillotine. The end.
Bush is often cast as an intellectual midget starring in a moron movie. Some refer to him as an idiot who could only get C’s in college when other rich, privileged kids of movers and shakers of the time could buy A’s and still have change left over for a spring break trip to Jamaica. That’s harsh but, seriously, just how stupid do you have to be not to get straight A’s when your Dad’s in the top echelons of the CIA? And if you didn’t have to read this novel in college, why in the hell would you read it now? Extra credit?
Surely, he hopes the news of reading high-brow stuff like this will elevate him in the world community. More likely, he decided to actually read the novel he quoted from in a February 21, 2005 speech in Brussels urging other nations to help Washington spread democracy throughout the world.
"We know there are many obstacles, and we know the road is long. Albert Camus said that 'freedom is a long-distance race.' We're in that race for the duration," Bush said in those remarks. But, carefully omitted from his speech were passages from the novel that expressed the character’s disbelief in God and, of course…killing that Arab. Obviously, revealing existence of those passages wouldn’t only send the wrong message, but could also provide aid to our enemies and greatly hinder us in our war on terrorism. Heaven help us if he reads and starts quoting from A Clockwork Orange.