‘NOT A BIG READER’…. As part of its end-of-presidency wrap-up, Vanity Fair notes this interesting tidbit from Richard Clarke, the former chief White House counterterrorism adviser.

“We had a couple of meetings with the president, and there were detailed discussions and briefings on cyber-security and often terrorism, and on a classified program. With the cyber-security meeting, he seemed — I was disturbed because he seemed to be trying to impress us, the people who were briefing him. It was as though he wanted these experts, these White House staff guys who had been around for a long time before he got there — didn’t want them buying the rumor that he wasn’t too bright. He was trying — sort of overly trying — to show that he could ask good questions, and kind of yukking it up with Cheney.

“The contrast with having briefed his father and Clinton and Gore was so marked. And to be told, frankly, early in the administration, by Condi Rice and [her deputy] Steve Hadley, you know, Don’t give the president a lot of long memos, he’s not a big reader — well, shit. I mean, the president of the United States is not a big reader?”

Funny, just last week Karl Rove told us the president is a voracious reader, who reads dense texts “to relax and because he’s curious,” and for 35 years, George W. Bush has “always had a book nearby.”

Given Rove’s description, I wonder why top administration officials would tell the chief White House counterterrorism adviser that Bush is “not a big reader.” It’s almost as if Rove’s description is some kind of wild exaggeration. That couldn’t be, could it?

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.