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Sunday, August 26, 2007

Pat Shroeder Is an Idiot

There's been quite a bit of talk on book blogs in the last few days about the Associated Press-Ipsos poll that showed that at least one in four Americans did not read even one book last year. Tragic as that is, the way that Pat Shroeder, president of the American Association of Publishers, decided to spin one other item in the poll is even more embarrassing. Shroeder works for a publishing group and one would assume that a big part of her job is to promote books and reading. But Shroeder, an ex-congresswoman from Colorado decided that getting a dig in at her former political opponents was more important than doing the job for which she is paid.

Because one part of the poll seemed to indicate that liberals read more books than conservatives, Shroeder reverted to the type of petty political attack she was well known for before her congressional exit. Debra J. Saunders makes clear in her San Francisco Chronicle column today that Pat Shroeder is either a fool or a liar. You decide which it is.
(Shroeder) proclaimed, "The Karl Roves of the world have built a generation that just wants a couple of slogans: 'No, don't raise my taxes, no new taxes.' It's pretty hard to write a book saying, 'No new taxes, no new taxes, no new taxes,' on every page."

She also told AP that liberals "can't say anything in less than paragraphs. We really want the whole picture, want to peel the onion."
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Silly me, I looked into the poll - which liberals have hailed as proof of their intellectual superiority - and there's not a lot there in "the whole picture." The poll found that among people polled who read at least one book in the last year, liberals read nine books and conservatives read eight.

When I called Michael Gross, associate vice president of Ipsos public affairs, to find out more about the Ipsos poll, he told me the one-book difference "is within the margin of error, it's not a statistically significant difference."

The poll also found that moderates who said they read at least one book a year, on average, read five books a year. By Schroeder's lights, moderates must be really simple-minded sloganeers.

As a conservative, I am not proud to read that 34 percent of conservatives - as opposed to 22 percent of liberals and moderates - said they had read a book within the last year.

Then again, because the poll did not ask people if they read newspapers or magazines, Gross noted, "I don't think it says anything about people's general level of information."
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Which makes one wonder: Why did Schroeder, who is supposed to champion books, choose to alienate one-third of the American public, those who self-identify as conservatives? She adds new meaning to the phrase "peeling the onion."

In her rush to brand the right as bunch of illiterates, Schroeder had the poor sense to go after an avid reader, Karl Rove, who has been winning a heated competition with President Bush as to which of the two can read the most books. Rove recently told Rush Limbaugh that he beat Bush last year. The Score: Rove, 110 books; Bush, 94.
As the poll really shows, a person's political beliefs have very little impact on the number of books he reads per given year. People either read or they don't read. Karl Rove has not personally killed off a whole generation of conservative readers. In my estimation, Pat Shroeder is just another in a long line of fools who has decided to let personal vindictiveness get in the way of doing the job for which she is paid. I hope that that the American Association of Publishers cares enough about their group to muzzle the woman before she does them any more damage.
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