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On W's Words of Wisdom

August 14, 2005

President Bush' s struggles with his mother tongue are legendary. Collections and analyses of "Bushisms" even predate his ascendence to the White House. But in defending his refusal to meet with grieving Iraq war mother Cindy Sheehan, George W. Bush reached a new plateau of verbal incontinence:

"But whether it be here or in Washington or anywhere else, there's somebody who has got something to say to the president, that's part of the job. And I think it's important for me to be thoughtful and sensitive to those who have got something to say. But I think it's also important for me to go on with my life, to keep a balanced life."

This latest incomprehensible utterance illustrates the last of the four types of Bush gaffes. The first, Accidental Truth, involves Bush inadvertently saying what he actually feels or believes. The second, What He Really Meant, are those cases where the discerning observer can find the actual intent of Bush's words that had been sadly lost in his lack of familiarity with English. The third, Post-Modern Dyslexia, involves President Bush changing the order, conjugation or tense of words to render the mundane incomprehensible. Last, as in the case of Bush "going on with his life", is the What the F**k? category, where the meaning of Bush's words are hidden to man and God alike.
Bush's need to "go on with my life" rather than meet with Cindy Sheehan is one of those What the F**k moments.
[Continue reading "On W's Words of Wisdom"...]

Looking in-depth at the statements of President Bush allows us to move beyond superficial conclusions regarding his potential idiocy to create a more sophisticated model of his shortcomings.
Bush and the Accidental Truth
It has often been said that a gaffe is what results when a politician speaks the truth. Whether on issues of race, Social Security, the war of terror or just truth-telling from the White House, George W. Bush is no exception:

"See, in my line of work you got to keep repeating things over and over and over again for the truth to sink in, to kind of catapult the propaganda." (President Bush, May 24, 2005.)

"Another interesting a personal savings account...which can't be used to bet on the lottery, or a dice game, or the track." (President Bush, speaking to African-Americans at a town hall meeting on Social Security, January 12, 2005.)

"Does that make any sense to you? It's kind of muddled." (President Bush, explaining his Social Security plan at a Tampa rally, February 4, 2005.)

"Whether or not we can be ever fully safe is up -- you know, is up in the air." (President Bush, October 24, 2004.)

Bush and What He Really Meant
In many cases, Bush's most enigmatic expressions are not the random jibberish of an man who may have become reacquainted with Jack Daniels. Oftentimes, the keen and patient student of President Bush can extract the real meaning from even the most garbled statements. The President, for example, is concerned that the high cost of malpractice insurance is driving many OB/GYNs from their medical practices. Other times, President Bush wants to comfort the families of the fallen in Iraq:

"Too many OB/GYNs aren't able to practice their love with women all across this country." (President Bush, September 6, 2004.)

"You know, I think about Missy Johnson. She's a fantastic lady I met in Charlotte, North Carolina. Her husband PJ got killed...You know, it's hard work to try to love her as best as I can..." (President Bush, Miami Debate, September 30, 2004.)

"I'm looking forward to a good night's sleep on the soil of a friend." (President Bush, regarding his visit to Denmark, June 29, 2005.)

Bush and Post-Modern Dyslexia
These kinds of statements are among the best known Bush malapropisms. Here, George W. Bush inadvertently changes word order, bungles basic verb conjugation, or concludes that verb tenses are an antiquated concept. For example:

"Families is where our nation finds hope, where wings take dream." (Candidate George W. Bush, October 18, 2000)

"Rarely is the question asked: Is our children learning?" (Candidate George W. Bush, January 11, 2000)

"We ought to make the pie higher." (Candidate George W. Bush.)

"People...had been trained in some instances to disassemble -- that means not tell the truth." (President Bush, May 31, 2005.)

Bush and What the F**k?
All of which brings us back to President Bush's babbling nonsense regarding Cindy Sheehan. Occasionally, George W. Bush utters something so incomprehensible as to defy understanding by any one living and even generations yet unborn:

"When you engage the terrorists abroad, it causes activity and action." (President Bush, April 28, 2005)

"Governor Bush will not stand for the subsidation of failure." (Candidate George W. Bush, January 11, 2000.)

"This is still a dangerous world. It's a world of madmen and uncertainty and potential mential losses." (Candidate George W. Bush, January 14, 2000.)

Of course, it almost goes without saying that there is a fifth class of Bush malapropism: the bald faced lie. But that's a story for another day.

6 comments on “On W's Words of Wisdom”

  1. Thank goodness for a giggle. This whole business of the GWOT, Afghanistan and Iraq (and possibly Iran) has had me downright depressed. I need to read this kind of piece now and again to cheer me up!

  2. Can I ask what is bush talking about, god help us all.
    calvin you hit it on the head, but maybe bush was hit on the head when he was a little kid?
    I need more VA Drugs.

  3. It's not often that I laugh out loud when alone, but I did today . Thanks, I enjoyed that.


Jon Perr
Jon Perr is a technology marketing consultant and product strategist who writes about American politics and public policy.

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