6 comments May 3rd, 2007at 11:55am Posted by Eli

Wait… what?

What books did Romney claim as his favorites? The Bible is his favorite book. His favorite novel is Battlefield Earth by L. Ron Hubbard, the science-fiction writer and Scientology founder. The first we would have expected, but the second is so wacky, it breathes new life into the tired old reporter’s trope: There must be something we can learn about Romney by examining this answer.


The whole tumbling horror of the Battlefield Earth experience is so profound it nearly comes out the other side and achieves a kind of perfection of awfulness. Is Romney being ironic, then, like those people who buy clown art? Unlikely. There’s not a big irony bloc in the GOP and Battlefield Earth is a thousand-page book. No one can sustain irony for that long. (At 13,000 words per dollar it is a great value, though, which might appeal to notoriously frugal New Hampshire voters.) Romney was quick to point out that he disagreed with Scientology, so he wasn’t going for that vote, or the smaller, untapped, creepy-Hubbard-ascot-fetish vote. Is Romney trying to act like he’s a regular guy? Only 8 percent of the words in the book are considered “complex,” so he can’t be labeled an elitist, but no one trying to look like a common Joe would pick this book. You simply need a deep level of weird to like Battlefield Earth. The speed with which some of his aides tried to distance the governor from his remarks suggests they think he now looks a little too weird.

But I think they should stop covering up for the governor. Let him embrace his choice. There is no obvious stratagem behind it, which means Romney, the most meticulously arrayed and perhaps the most careful of the candidates may be giving us a peek at a robust inner goofball…. Nothing could be more regular than the irony-free love of schlock found in overwrought thrillers written by self-aggrandizing madmen.

Having seen the so-bad-it’s-brilliant movie version, I am 100% on board with the hilarity of a major Republican presidential candidate saying that Battlefield Earth is his favorite novel, but I think Slate is overlooking a much bigger story here: The Mormon candidate named The Bible as his favorite book, not the Book Of Mormon. And, of course, Battlefield Earth was written by the creator of Scientology.

So Mitt Romney named not one, but two, favorite books closely associated with religions not his own. Does this strike anyone else as odd, and potentially problematic?

Entry Filed under: Books,Religion,Republicans,Weirdness


  • 1. elmo  |  May 3rd, 2007 at 12:23 pm

    He’s never read either book…

  • 2. elmo  |  May 3rd, 2007 at 12:33 pm

    You have to understand, he knows most people don’t read. They hear “Battlefield Earth” and think he’s reading military stuff.

  • 3. bdr  |  May 3rd, 2007 at 12:38 pm

    At least he didn’t name The Fountainhead – there’s been enough damage by assclowns who think Ayn Rand great literature.

  • 4. Eli  |  May 3rd, 2007 at 1:22 pm

    Elmo, I have a hard time believing that any politician would *want* people to think he’d read something that’s basically become a punchline. There are far more respectable books he could claim to read if he wanted to impress everyone with how warlike he is.

    So I think he *has* read it, and I think he genuinely enjoyed it. I just don’t know whether he was reading it ironically, or as a story of Plucky Can-Do American Heroism.

  • 5. spocko  |  May 3rd, 2007 at 1:47 pm

    Anybody here actually read the whole bible? Man what a crazy book. All that killing and stabbing and raping and abomination this and unclean that. And that’s just the first couple of chapters!

    The comedian Julia Sweeney did a NPR interview about reading the bible for the first time. She was very shocked. Her Catholic priest didn’t do a very good job explaining what was what. I was really disappointed in the answers she related that he gave about the bible. My first comment would be to say, “You can’t just read the bible like a book. You need to understand who wrote it, why they wrote it and who they were writing for. And then you need to know who translated it why they inserted their own info and what they were trying to accomplish.

    I think that learning that the early church inserted comments into Jesus’ mouth to appeal to some audiences was a huge revelation to me. I remember talking to a born again Christian about this. He was convinced that the words of Jesus were his actual words because they were in red type in the bible.
    I said. “Really? Were you reading this is Aramaic?”

    BTW, I loved this line, “smaller, untapped, creepy-Hubbard-ascot-fetish vote. ”

  • 6. Eli  |  May 4th, 2007 at 10:26 am

    The Bible is, IMHO, a very schizophrenic book, whose two major portions are at war with each other.

    The Old Testament has all kinds of angry-God-smiting-the-wicked-and-testing-the-faith-of-the-believers stuff in it, while the New Testament’s primary message is “Be excellent to each other.”

    Insofar as I have any standing to do so, I generally judge Christians by which Testament guides their worldview and approach to life. Which is why I have so much contempt for the religious right – Jesus is always on their lips instead of their hearts.

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