The Weird Religions Candidate

Dave Weigel notes that Mitt Romney says his favorite novel is L. Ron Hubbard's Battlefield Earth:

"I’m not in favor of his religion by any means,” Mr. Romney, a Mormon, said. “But he wrote a book called ‘Battlefield Earth’ that was a very fun science-fiction book."


Dave comments: "No, that isn't true. Battlefield Earth is awful. Nobody reads that book except Scientologists and smartasses who want to giggle at Scientologists, and even they start to cash out by the 7000th page or so." I'm inclined to agree. I do, however, sympathize with Romney since questions like this are intrinsically hard to answer. I feel like the media's basic setup is that you ask it, then if the politician responds with something lowbrow he'll be criticized for being dumb, and if he responds with something highbrow he'll be criticized for being out-of-touch and aloof. Giving a totally bizarre answer is probably a decent strategy.

Personally, though, if I were running for president I'd site something obscure like Andrei Bely's objectively pro-terrorist modernist classic Petersburgas my favorite novel and then watch with amusement as the press corps scrambled to look it up.

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Matthew Yglesias is a former writer and editor at The Atlantic.

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