Focus on the Family
Ford's attempt at edgy advertising prompts debate.
TJA speculates that mention of this novel in Talladega Nights, the Will Ferrell NASCAR comedy, might have inspired W.'s choice.
As a matter of diplomacy, Utek1 declares it was "probably unwise for the president to be seen reading a book about a soulless murderer of Arabs":
With Iraq in chaos, the ceasefire in Lebanon hanging by a thread, and the US making noises about invading Iran, the last thing Bush should be doing is throwing gasoline on the fire. But once an oil man, always an oil man.
Fortunately, the easiest way for Bush to make amends is to continue onto Camus' next novel, The Plague. Here, the hero isn't a murderer, but a doctor battling an epidemic of bubonic plague in the Algerian town of Oran. Despite the pestilence afflicting all those around him, the doctor continues to do his small part to relieve their suffering. The image of Bush reading about a Western caregiver providing comfort to Muslims during a bleak moment in their history would be a lot better PR for Bush than to be seen getting tips on how to murder Arabs without remorse.
Contrary to Dickerson, bhardin offers an alternative theory about the quintessential symbolism shared between Meursault (the protagonist in The Stranger) and G.W.:
The most interesting aspect of the novel is why Mersault is put to death. It isn't because he killed Arabs, which was rarely met with the death penalty. Rather it was his lack of compassion and explanation of his motives to the demanding public. Ultimately he was killed because he showed no sadness for the death of his mother. The public viewed him as inhuman. Bush is persecuted like Mersault not because he is a "remorseless killer of Arabs", but because he doesn't engage the public to explain himself. Bill Clinton also killed Arabs (e.g. bombing a "chemical weapons" plant/hospital in the Sudan) during his last year in office. However, he was an excellent communicator of emotions- he felt my pain. Of course, Bill would find more literary parallels with Willy Loman than Mersault.
Mersault is perhaps one of the most complex characters in modern literature, but to the mob that shouted for his death he would have been viewed as a Bush-like moron. Maybe, behind Bush's façade is a deeper, stoic intellectual who connects with a character publicly persecuted for his taciturn nature.
Soltasto, for one, applauds W.'s expansion of his intellectual horizons:
Regardless of his intentions, it will bring sorely needed new ideas to the man's head. I'm no Bush fan, but it is always important to defend any person's right to seek new information and evolve. Everything that penetrates his consciousness is going to affect his decisions in the future. For the next two years those decisions will affect everyone on Earth. Any actions this man takes toward expanding his tiny box of ideas should be applauded.
Thanks to astrotdog for tracking down the possible etymology of macaca:
Macaca ?= Makak = macaque = a french/belgium/dutch epithet for a Arab or black North African; derived from macaque, the old world monkey, once common in North Africa.
Further evidence of this derivation: Allen speaks French and his mother is of Tunisian origin, according to Clown_Nose.
As for Allen, RedStateImpressions criticizes Dickerson's "superficiality" as a journalist and for getting
Adam Christian is co-editor of the Fray.