WHAT RNC LEADERS READ…. The five main candidates vying for the chairmanship of the Republican National Committee met today for a debate, which by most accounts, was of greater interest to political reporters than RNC members. One of the lighter moments, however, was arguably the most interesting.

Participants were asked a softball: what’s your favorite book? The answers varied quite a bit.

Maria Cino’s favorite is the classic To Kill a Mockingbird. Reince Priebus named The Reagan Diaries as his first choice. And current RNC Chairman Michael Steele’s favorite is War and Peace. […]

But the real highlight of the exchange came when Ann Wagner responded to the question, saying, “Probably my kitchen table.” What was she referring to exactly? Her favorite bar, apparently, which she thought she was being asked. Her favorite book, though, is George W. Bush’s new memoir, Decision Points.

The other participant, by the way, Michigan’s Saul Anuzis, mentioned Frederic Bastiat’s “The Law” as his favorite.

What’s more, when Steele answered, he mentioned Tolstoy’s War and Peace as his favorite, but then added, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” The line, of course, comes from neither Tolstoy nor War and Peace, but rather, Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities.

Raise your hand if you believe Steele actually read War and Peace, and genuinely considers it one of his favorite books.

In any case, picking The Reagan Diaries seems far too easy a choice to be taken seriously, and anyone who considers George W. Bush’s ghost-written memoir as their favorite book almost certainly shouldn’t be running a major, multi-million-dollar organization.

As for Anuzis, I suppose he gets points for picking something with at least a degree of sophistication, but lest anyone consider him the intellectual of the RNC field, let’s not forget that this is the same Anuzis who argued in April 2009 that President Obama’s domestic agenda constitutes “economic fascism,” not because he believes that, but because use of the word “fascism” helps “raise the consciousness of the average voter.”

“We’ve so overused the word ‘socialism’ that it no longer has the negative connotation it had 20 years ago, or even 10 years ago,” Anuzis said at the time. “Fascism — everybody still thinks that’s a bad thing.”

If he’s the intellectual of the group, the party’s in trouble.

Postscript: Asked for their favorite book, not one candidate mentioned the Christian Bible? Seems like an obvious one.

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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.