Thu, Aug 31, 2006 - Page 5 News List

Bush fights against lightweight tag by reading Camus text


US President George W. Bush said on Tuesday he's no longer reading French philosopher Albert Camus but tries to keep his reading list "eclectic."

Bush, on his 13th trip to New Orleans since it flooded one year ago, said he was reading about the region.

"Well, I'm reading about the battle of New Orleans right now," Bush said in an interview with NBC Nightly News.

"I've got an eclectic reading list," he said.

Bush took some ribbing while vacationing at his Texas ranch recently when he revealed that he had read Camus' The Stranger.

"I was in Crawford and I said I was looking for a book to read and Laura said `you ought to try Camus,'" he said.

"I also read three Shakespeares," he said.

He told NBC television that Camus was not his steady fare.

"That was a couple of books ago," he said.

In a reference to how he is often lampooned as an intellectual lightweight, Bush said: "The key for me is to keep expectations low."

The president's public opinion ratings have fallen steadily since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, largely over the invasion of Iraq, but also over Hurricane Katrina, which flooded New Orleans while Washington dallied, something he has taken responsibility for over the past year.

Bush said he tried to focus on the job at hand and not become distracted by what others were saying about him.

"People spend a lot of -- particularly if you're making decisions and hard decisions -- people spend a lot of time, not only analyzing decisions, but analyzing the decision maker. And I understand that, but a president must never let -- let that get him off track," he told NBC.

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