Discussion in 'Politics' started by Bush Limbaugh, May 22, 2004.

  1. One perspective......

    Date: Wed, 12 May 2004 15:49:50 -0700


    The Misunderestimated Man
    How Bush chose stupidity.
    By Jacob Weisberg
    Posted Friday, May 7, 2004, at 6:54 AM PT

    Was he born that way?
    Adapted from the introduction to The Deluxe
    Election-Edition Bushisms, published by Fireside
    Books/Simon & Schuster. Reprinted with permission; )
    2004 Jacob Weisberg.

    The question I am most frequently asked about Bushisms
    is, "Do you really think the president of the United
    States is dumb?"

    The short answer is yes.
    The long answer is yes and no.

    Quotations collected over the years in Slate may leave
    the impression that George W. Bush is a dimwit. Let's
    face it: A man who cannot talk about education without
    making a humiliating grammatical mistake ("The
    illiteracy level of our children are appalling"); who
    cannot keep straight the three branches of government
    ("It's the executive branch's job to interpret law");
    who coins ridiculous words ("Hispanos," "arbolist,"
    "subliminable," "resignate," "transformationed"); who
    habitually says the opposite of what he intends ("the
    death tax is good for people from all walks of life!")
    sounds like a grade-A imbecile.

    And if you don't care to pursue the matter any
    further, that view will suffice. George W. Bush has
    governed, for the most part, the way any airhead
    might, undermining the fiscal condition of the nation,
    squandering the goodwill of the world after Sept. 11,
    and allowing huge problems (global warming,
    entitlement spending, AIDS) to metastasize toward
    catastrophe through a combination of ideology,
    incomprehension, and indifference. If Bush isn't
    exactly the moron he sounds, his synaptic misfirings
    offer a plausible proxy for the idiocy of his

    In reality, however, there's more to it. Bush's
    assorted malapropisms, solecisms, gaffes, spoonerisms,
    and truisms tend to imply that his lack of fluency in
    English is tantamount to an absence of intelligence.
    But as we all know, the inarticulate can be shrewd,
    the fluent fatuous. In Bush's case, the symptoms point
    to a specific malady-some kind of linguistic deficit
    akin to dyslexia-that does not indicate a lack of
    mental capacity per se.

    Bush also compensates with his non-verbal acumen. As
    he notes, "Smart comes in all kinds of different
    ways." The president's way is an aptitude for
    connecting to people through banter and physicality.
    He has a powerful memory for names, details, and
    figures that truly matter to him, such as batting
    averages from the 1950s. Bush also has a keen
    political sense, sharpened under the tutelage of Karl

    What's more, calling the president a cretin absolves
    him of responsibility. Like Reagan, Bush avoids blame
    for all manner of contradictions, implausible
    assertions, and outright lies by appearing an amiable
    dunce. If he knows not what he does, blame goes to the
    three puppeteers, Cheney, Rove, and Rumsfeld. It also
    breeds sympathy. We wouldn't laugh at FDR because he
    couldn't walk. Is it less cruel to laugh at GWB
    because he can't talk? The soft bigotry of low
    expectations means Bush is seen to outperform by
    merely getting by. Finally, elitist condescension,
    however merited, helps cement Bush's bond to the

    But if "numskull" is an imprecise description of the
    president, it is not altogether inaccurate. Bush may
    not have been born stupid, but he has achieved
    stupidity, and now he wears it as a badge of honor.
    What makes mocking this president fair as well as
    funny is that Bush is, or at least once was, capable
    of learning, reading, and thinking. We know he has
    discipline and can work hard (at least when the goal
    is reducing his time for a three-mile run). Instead he
    chose to coast, for most of his life, on name, charm,
    good looks, and the easy access to capital afforded by
    family connections.

    The most obvious expression of Bush's choice of
    ignorance is that, at the age of 57, he knows nothing
    about policy or history. After years of working as his
    dad's spear-chucker in Washington, he didn't
    understand the difference between Medicare and
    Medicaid, the second- and third-largest federal
    programs. Well into his plans for invading Iraq, Bush
    still couldn't get down the distinction between Sunni
    and Shiite Muslims, the key religious divide in a
    country he was about to occupy. Though he sometimes
    carries books for show, he either does not read them
    or doesn't absorb anything from them. Bush's ignorance
    is so transparent that many of his intimates do not
    bother to dispute it even in public. Consider the
    testimony of several who know him well.

    Richard Perle, foreign policy adviser: "The first time
    I met Bush 43 two things became clear. One, he
    didn't know very much. The other was that he had the
    confidence to ask questions that revealed he didn't
    know very much."

    David Frum, former speechwriter: "Bush had a poor
    memory for facts and figures. Fire a question at him
    about the specifics of his administration's policies,
    and he often appeared uncertain. Nobody would ever
    enroll him in a quiz show."

    Laura Bush, spouse: "George is not an overly
    introspective person. He has good instincts, and he
    goes with them. He doesn't need to evaluate and
    reevaluate a decision. He doesn't try to overthink. He
    likes action."

    Paul O'Neill, former treasury secretary: "The only way
    I can describe it is that, well, the President is like
    a blind man in a roomful of deaf people. There is no
    discernible connection."
  2. A second, more damning aspect of Bush's mind-set is
    that he doesn't want to know anything in detail,
    however important. Since college, he has spilled with
    contempt for knowledge, equating learning with
    snobbery and making a joke of his own
    anti-intellectualism. ("[William F. Buckley] wrote a
    book at Yale; I read one," he quipped at a black-tie
    event). By O'Neill's account, Bush could sit through
    an hourlong presentation about the state of the
    economy without asking a single question. ("I was
    bored as hell," the president shot back, ostensibly in

    Closely related to this aggressive ignorance is a
    third feature of Bush's mentality: laziness. Again,
    this is a lifelong trait. Bush's college grades were
    mostly Cs (including a 73 in Introduction to the
    American Political System). At the start of one term,
    the star of the Yale football team spotted him in the
    back row during the shopping period for courses. "Hey!
    George Bush is in this class!" Calvin Hill shouted to
    his teammates. "This is the one for us!" As governor
    of Texas, Bush would take a long break in the middle
    of his short workday for a run followed by a stretch
    of video golf or computer solitaire.

    A fourth and final quality of Bush's mind is that it
    does not think. The president can't tolerate debate
    about issues. Offered an option, he makes up his mind
    quickly and never reconsiders. At an elementary
    school, a child once asked him whether it was hard to
    make decisions as president. "Most of the decisions
    come pretty easily for me, to be frank with you." By
    leaping to conclusions based on what he "believes,"
    Bush avoids contemplating even the most obvious basic
    contradictions: between his policy of tax cuts and
    reducing the deficit; between his call for a humble
    foreign policy based on alliances and his unilateral
    assertion of American power; between his support for
    in-vitro fertilization (which destroys embryos) and
    his opposition to fetal stem-cell research (because it
    destroys embryos).

    Why would someone capable of being smart choose to be
    stupid? To understand, you have to look at W.'s
    relationship with father. This filial bond involves
    more tension than meets the eye. Dad was away for much
    of his oldest son's childhood. Little George grew up
    closer to his acid-tongued mother and acted out
    against the absent parent through adolescent
    misbehavior, academic failure, dissipation, and
    basically not accomplishing anything at all until well
    into his 40s.

    Dubya's youthful screw-ups and smart-aleck attitude
    reflect some combination of protest, plea for
    attention, and flailing attempt to compete. Until a
    decade ago, his resume read like a send-up of his
    dad's. Bush senior was a star student at Andover and
    Phi Beta Kappa at Yale, where he was also captain of
    the baseball team; Junior struggled through with
    gentleman's C's and, though he loved baseball,
    couldn't make the college lineup. Pere was a bomber
    pilot in the Pacific; fils sat out 'Nam in the Texas
    Air National Guard, where he lost flying privileges by
    not showing up. Dad drove to Texas in 1947 to get rich
    in the oil business and actually did; Son tried the
    same in 1975 and drilled dry holes for a decade. Bush
    the elder got elected to Congress in 1966; Shrub ran
    in 1978, didn't know what he was talking about, and
    got clobbered.

    Through all this incompetent emulation runs an
    undercurrent of hostility. In an oft-told anecdote
    circa 1973, GWB after getting wasted at a party and
    driving over a neighbor's trash can in
    Houston challenged his dad. "I hear you're lookin' for
    me," W. told the chairman of the Republican National
    Committee. "You want to go mano a mano right here?"
    Some years later at a state dinner, he told the Queen
    of England he was being seated far away because he was
    the black sheep of the family.

    After half a lifetime of this kind of frustration,
    Bush decided to straighten up. Nursing a hangover at a
    40th-birthday weekend, he gave up Wild Turkey, cold
    turkey. With the help of Billy Graham, he put himself
    in the hands of a higher power and began going to
    church. He became obsessed with punctuality and
    developed a rigid routine. Thus did Prince Hal molt
    into an evangelical King Henry. And it worked! Putting
    together a deal to buy the Texas Rangers, the
    ne'er-do-well finally tasted success. With success, he
    grew closer to his father, taking on the role of
    family avenger. This culminated in his 1994 challenge
    to Texas Gov. Ann Richard's, who had twitted dad at the
    1988 Democratic convention*.

    Curiously, this late arrival at adulthood did not
    involve Bush becoming in any way thoughtful. Having
    chosen stupidity as rebellion, he stuck with it out of
    conformity. The promise-keeper, reformed-alkie path he
    chose not only drastically curtailed personal choices
    he no longer wanted, it also supplied an
    all-encompassing order, offered guidance on policy,
    and prevented the need for much actual information.
    Bush's old answer to hard questions was, "I don't know
    and, who cares." His new answer was, "Wait a second
    while I check with Jesus."

    A remaining bit of poignancy was his unresolved
    struggle with his father. "All I ask," he implored a
    reporter while running for governor in 1994, "is that
    for once you guys stop seeing me as the son of George
    Bush." In his campaigns, W. has kept his dad offstage.
    (In an exceptional appearance on the eve of the 2000
    New Hampshire primary, 41 came onstage and called his
    son "this boy.") While some describe the second Bush
    presidency as a restoration, it is in at least equal
    measure a repudiation. The son's harder-edged
    conservatism explicitly rejects the old man's approach
    to such issues as abortion, taxes, and relations with

    This Oedipally induced ignorance expresses itself most
    dangerously in Bush's handling of the war in Iraq.
    Dubya polished off his old man's greatest enemy,
    Saddam, but only by lampooning 41's accomplishment of
    coalition-building in the first Gulf War. Bush led the
    country to war on false pretenses and neglected to
    plan the occupation that would inevitably follow. A
    more knowledgeable and engaged president might have
    questioned the quality of the evidence about Iraq's
    supposed weapons programs. One who preferred to be
    intelligent might have asked about the possibility of
    an unfriendly reception. Instead, Bush rolled the
    dice. His budget-busting tax cuts exemplify a similar
    phenomenon, driven by an alternate set of ideologues.

    As the president says, we misunderestimate him. He was
    not born stupid. He chose stupidity. Bush may look
    like a well-meaning dolt. On consideration, he's
    something far more dangerous: a dedicated fool.
  3. Republican Campaign Slogans for our coming presidential elections...

    1. Bush/Cheney '04: Four More Wars!

    2. BU_ _SH_ _!

    3. Bush/Cheney '04: Because the truth just isn't good enough.

    4. Bush/Cheney '04: Compassionate Colonialism

    5. Bush/Cheney '04: Deja-voodoo all over again!

    6. Bush/Cheney '04: Leave no billionaire behind

    7. Bush/Cheney '04: Less CIA -- More CYA

    8. Bush/Cheney '04: Lies and videotape but no sex!

    9. Bush/Cheney '04: Making the world a better place, one country at a time.

    10. Bush/Cheney '04: Putting the "con" in conservatism

    11. Bush/Cheney '04: Thanks for not paying attention.

    12. Bush/Cheney '04: It's the Stupid Economy

    13. Bush/Cheney '04: This time, elect us!

    14. Bush/Cheney '04: Asses of Evil

    15. Don't think: Vote Bush!

    16. George W. Bush: A brainwave away from the presidency

    17. George W. Bush: It takes a village idiot

    18. George W. Bush: The buck stops Over There

    19. Vote Bush in '04: Because dictatorship is easier

    20. Vote Bush in '04: It's a no-brainer!

    21. Vote for Bush & You Get Dick!

    George, Dick, & Don: "Hey, We've Never Met a Country We Didn't Want to Invade!!!"
  4. Pabst


    So let's see:

    Graduate of Yale
    Harvard MBA
    Licensed Jet Fighter Pilot
    Multi-Millionaire Baseball Team Owner
    Twice Elected Governor of 4th Largest State in U.S.
    President of the Most Powerful Nation on Earth
    Despite Pinko Critics, Odds On Favorite to Win Re-Election

    Hmm.....I wish I was that dumb.
  5. Don't forget he was the posterboy (literally with only his large-sized picture on a poster) for the army's (paraphrased) "responsible youth - say no to alcohol & drugs"-campaign as well when hidden away in the National Guard. The irony ...
    At least he found (a) God and repented his ways.

  6. Pabst, I read the post. How come I did not interpret it the same way you did? Maybe I "misunderestimated" the whole thing, but I got the sense the author did not think Bush is dumb. Rather that he uses a calculated image of "dumb" to his advantage. And as we know, anything that works in politics just isn't "dumb". After all, the whole objective to successful politics seems to be maintaining power. And as you say, (although I don't know that it is true), He is an "odds on favorite to win re-election". Which makes him more than brilliant considering the failure of his administration, or the widely held opinion that it is a failure.

    Where have I seen this list of GWBs credentials before?

    Graduate of Harvard and Yale:
    Do you think he would have been admitted if not for his family?

    Licensed Jet Pilot:
    Again, how did he get into the ANG as a pilot during the Vietnam War? I never knew of any other person who got that lucky. Not one! And then he lost his wings because he did not show up. Public record, so no arguing the point.

    So is my cleaning lady. So are millions of unemployed people. En meme temps, je pouvrais parler, lis et ecris francais, mais parce que je ne l'ai pas employe dans sur 15 ans, moi ai oublie les la plupart de ce que j'ai su. (sorry I don't have the right kind of keyboard to have done my best with that).

    Multi-Millionaire Baseball Team Owner:
    Not hard to do under his circumstances. Take a money losing team, get public funding for a new stadium (a lot easier to do when your father is the President of the USA) and sell the team for a huge profit. And don't forget HOW he got involved. And for how much. If you need some help with that, let me know.

    Twice Elected Governor of 4th Largest State in U.S.:
    Yes, he was.

    President of the Most Powerful Nation on Earth:
    Yes, he is. Though not the people's choice.

    Despite Pinko Critics, Odds On Favorite to Win Re-Election:
    Here is where we disagree. If someone does not favor Bush, they are a "pinko"? How truly "American" can you be? And "odds on"? Have you looked at the polls lately? You sound like my friend Maverick now, whistling in the graveyard. As I have said before here on ET...I sincerely hope he is re-elected. Because that would mean a lot of the mess we are in will be straightened out by November. If he can make things better, he deserves to be elected (re-elected is a stretch Pabst). I would vote for him myself. I want what is best for the country. I don't have a blind allegiance to one party or the other. Only an allegiance to my country. As things stand today, I think he is destined to be another one term Bush. And certainly I would not vote for him as of right now. Just as apparently the majority of people now would not. How did he manage to go from the most popular President ever after 9/11 to a rather unpopular President now? And his TV commercials are not helping his cause at all. What is it I am missing? Why are all the ads anti-Kerry? Why not a single pro-Bush ad? Is it for a lack of material?

    I am open to have things explained Pabst. But please, try and cite some arguments. Calling anyone who isn't a Bush backer a "pinko" is not a logical argument. Take out the emotion, and tell me why you feel the way you do. I can be easily convinced (I do have a big problem with his plan of attack in Iraq with no plan for the aftermath, but I am sure you can make sense of it for me).

  7. Magna

    Magna Administrator

    Maybe he's odds-on, maybe not, I don't really have an opinion on that at this time as I don't like Kerry or Bush and the polls are pretty close. But I'm curious about your use of the phrase "Pinko Critics", since we both know Pinko is an alternate way of calling someone a Communist and was used quite extensively by Joe McCarthy in the 50's. Are you saying that anyone who disagrees with Bush, anyone who criticizes our President, is a Communist? Is that the latest Compassionate Conservative approach?
  8. Pabst


    Anyone who supports the social/spending/tax agenda of a Kerry/Kennedy/Hillary Demo party had might as well be a card carrying Red.

    As far as "odds on favorite." Tradesports still demands .56 cents for a dollar back if you want to bet on Bush's re-election.
  9. Pabst



  10. Well Magna, McCarthysim appears to be back.

    Now, the truth is, I think Pabst is going for shock value here. I just don't buy that he can mean this seriously. I know he is a very conservative guy, but I also know he is a reasonable and intelligent guy. This just does not sound like a reasonable statement.

    I could be wrong, but I sincerely hope not.

    #10     May 22, 2004