It's easy to forget that UPI is still extant, still churning out dispatches from the White House pool and columns by Arnaud De Borchgrave. And the James Bond villain's* latest column? It's a winner. De Borchgrave has worked his sources and uncovered the results of a book-reading contest between President Bush (pictured right holding Bernard Goldberg's final pre-dementia epistle) and Karl Rove:
Two of Washington's best-informed men confirmed it so it must be true. President Bush and his consigliere Karl Rove bet on who had read the most books in a year. Mike McConnell, the director of national intelligence, told friends Rove won with 117 books and Bush was a close second with 104 books.
Unhappy over his loss to his close confidant, Bush asked for a recount—in words. And the president won by 1.7 percent. The story is not apocryphal. In fact, none other than McConnell's predecessor as the nation's top spymaster, John Negroponte, now deputy secretary of state, confirmed it.
I am often—too often—asked to travel to college campuses and lecture on the nature and secrets of journalism. Before I toss my bindle into the railcars that spirit me from Goucher to Beaver to Rensselaer I stop and I wonder: "What is the most effective use of a high-placed source in the executive branch?" This is it, obviously. Note also that Bush judges book quality by "how many words it's got in it" and that he asked for a recount, and that De Borchgrave does not play this for effect.
Seriously, read the whole column—a classic of the too-small "Bush as Clausewitzean geo-political genius" genre. Get to this part:
In the case of a U.S. defeat in Iraq, as Bush sees it, a nuclear-armed Iran and the forces of global obscurantism would become dominant in the Middle East. On the geopolitical chessboard, it wouldn't be checkmate. But the queen would be gone.
Nouri al-Maliki is gay?