Candidates for political office are always being asked questions. Most of them appropriately have to to with points of domestic or foreign policy. But then there are invariably — and occasionally inappropriately — the off-beat questions. Remember Bill Clinton boxers-or-briefs? Or more recently, Mitt Romney’s preferred bedroom attire (the less the better)? Candidates are also sometimes asked to talk about their favorite reading material, and their replies can be famously hilarious (think Sarah Palin, or perhaps former GOP Chairman Michael Steele, who though not actually a candidate at the time nonetheless earned a place in literary infamy by confusing Dickens with Victor Hugo).
Sometimes the answers have spawned bestsellers. When President Kennedy talked about his enjoyment from reading Ian Fleming’s James Bond novels, those books jumped off bookshelves all over the country and even helped spur what soon became the ultra-successful Bond film industry. Clinton was said to be a prolific reader of mystery novels and the occasional foreign policy tome.
In searching around for what our current candidates are reading, I have had mixed success. Couldn’t find anything for Joe Biden; make of that whatever you will. Paul Ryan clearly is enamored of the novels of Ayn Rand. And President Obama, among other titles, apparently has read J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter novels, which presumably provide some escapism from White House crises. Republican challenger Romney said several years ago his favorite book was the sci-fi novel “Battlefield Earth” by the late Ron Hubbard, who interestingly was the founder of scientology.
So what can we deduce from those disparate and possibly bizarre choices? Your guess is unquestionably as good if not better than mine. And feel free to opine. I don’t think I’d want to venture too far out on what is intended as a non-partisan blog. So, anyone up for constructing a universe of political candidates based on the characters in the Harry Potter books?
And finally, here’s another category for you to consider: what books do you wish the candidates would read and perhaps profit from? And please, could we all agree not to vote for Machiavelli’s “The Prince?”