Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Why Mitt Romney loves "Battlefield Earth"

You can learn a lot about someone by looking at their favorite book.

Former presidential candidate Mitt Romney loves the Bible (natch) and...Battlefield Earth by L. Ron Hubbard.

How did I not know this? This story came out in 2007, right around Mitt's first presidential run. How did I miss it? I suppose 2007 predates ESE (est. 2010, at least in its initial incarnation) so I wasn't yet collecting such news items, but still...

Or maybe I caught it and mentally threw it back? Lost to the attrition of memory. But I digress...

Battlefield Earth is the story of our world in the year 3000 as it is under the control of evil aliens called the Psychlos. They have enslaved humanity and are stripping the Earth of all of its natural resources. Those few humans not serving as thralls must eke out a tribal living in the wastelands. A young man named Jonnie Goodboy Tyler grows disaffected with his life in such a tribe and straps on laser guns to go overthrow the Psychlos. To do so, he must first face down Terl, the head of Psychlo security. Jonnie's biggest advantage? The Psychlos' breath explodes upon contact with radioactive material.

Also opposing Jonnie is a race of interstellar bankers who are bent on repossessing the Earth due to unpaid debts. Really folks, I couldn't make this stuff up. L. Ron Hubbard, however, could. Hey the man wasn't dumb. He invented an entire religion and got people to fork over millions. That's nothing warranting sternutation. But I digress...

In full disclosure, I have never read Battlefield Earth. I mean, I tried once in 8th grade but the book is a massive 1,050 pages in length. My reading chops were not quite up for that at the time. That and I think even my 14 year-old self recognized how stupid it was and that's saying something considering I never missed an episode of the G.I. Joe cartoon. I have, however, seen the movie based off of the book. Starring John Travolta and Barry Pepper (I really had higher hopes for Pepper after Saving Private Ryan), it ranks as one of the worst films that I've ever seen. I know I should never judge a book by its film adaptation but...I dunno...I feel sort of safe doing that in this case. I mean, here is a line from the first page of the book as gleaned from the article at Slate:

"Terl could not have produced a more profound effect had he thrown a meat-girl naked into the middle of the room."

Folks, there's pulp, and then there's pulp.

So what can we learn about Mitt from his choice in reading? Could he be funnin' us? Unlikely, given his sense of humor. Does he just enjoy a mindless read? Okay, I can buy that...for more reasons than one...but it's Battlefield Earth. Nobody just picks that book. Plus, it's just not what you'd expect from a fiscal and social conservative.

Maybe he's a closet Scientologist? Or at least harbors deep empathy for their cause? I know it's not accurate to say this, but it feels like it would just sort with Mormonism. Maybe Mitt is secretly waiting for the spaceship to come and pick him up or however it is that Scientologists view their particular rapture. Add this Battlefield Earth log to the fire of reasons why I'm glad he's not running again.

Go ahead. Call me a progressive. A literary snob. Both are probably true.

Follow me on Twitter: @Jntweets


  1. On FB, FrankR said: "I actually read that book...eventually. I've read worse, but I feel no burning reason to have it on my bookshelf."


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