AFTERTHOUGHT: John Hinderacker, "Hail to the Chief"
Like clear cola, it's difficult to say who had the idea first here, but it is clear who's got the bigger psychological problem:
But up close, he is a great communicator, in a way that, in my opinion, Ronald Reagan was not. He was by turns instructive, persuasive, and funny. His persona is very much that of the big brother. Above all, he was impassioned. I have never seen a politician speak so evidently from the heart, about big issues--freedom, most of all.
By contrast, Parker is a paragon of rationality:
Bush-bashing for sport has never lacked fans in the blogosphere, but questioning the president's intelligence lately has gone mainstream.
Okay, wait up. By "going mainstream" she means "was mentioned on Joe Scarborough's show." Is it too late to reconsider who's more delusional? No? Okay, it's still Assrocket.
Scarborough wasn't calling Bush an idiot, mind you. He was just quoting that renowned American intellectual, Linda Ronstadt. Recently, Ronstadt had commented on the president's performance while attending an international summit of heads of state.
Man, that must have stung. Especially coming from Kathleen Parker, who is invited to every important international summit, and so would know.
We might take a moment or two to ponder exactly who Kathleen Parker is to be ridiculing someone else's intellectual standing, but as W.V. Quine once said, "Who?"
Instead let us note that Ronstadt made news for calling Bush an idiot over two years ago, so perhaps a better question is, "Far-right mouthpieces bring this up in an election year just as Republicans are trying to distance themselves from The Idiot? Just how big an idiot do you imagine everyone else is?"
Now then, Ms Parker, the rest of us have been at this for awhile, and we've pretty much caught up with all three possible explanations for Bush's idiocy. And yours' is...?
This theory occurred to me not long ago at an off-the-record luncheon with Bush and a hundred or so of his supporters. I was the guest of a guest, and welcomed the opportunity to observe the president in his natural habitat.
What I witnessed was revealing. Not only was the man fluent in the English language and intellectually agile, he was knowledgeable on a wide range of subjects raised during a 90-minute Q&A. Someone apparently had been slipping intellectual-curiosity tablets into Bush's cola.
Toward the end, one of the guests said, ``Mr. President, I think if Americans could hear you speak the way you have today, you'd have a 95 percent approval rating.''
And then he got back behind the wheel of his cab.
I think that's almost true. Not 95 percent, obviously, but he'd surely have a higher than 30 percent approval rating were he better able to explain what he's thinking. Bush does know; he just can't seem to say.
The question is why?
My theory dovetails with something one of his most acerbic critics, columnist Molly Ivins, once wrote: ``George W. Bush sounds like English is his second language.'' That's because it's true. ``Washington English'' (BEG ITAL)is(END ITAL) a second language for Bush; ``Texas English'' is his first.
When he tries to speak Washington English, which is the way Bush thinks presidents are supposed to speak -- over-enunciating and sprinkling his comments with awkward aphorisms -- he fumbles. He forgets what he's saying because the thoughts and words are not his own.
This is also when his annoying sibilance kicks in. The ``terroristsssssss," he says when ``terrorists" would do. My guess is he over-enunciates to cover his prairie accent, but the effect is, well, sssssstrange.
Y'know, when I first read this I thought it would be the focus of my response. "Texas English is Bush's first language" is in fact more ridiculous than the image of him as a brush-clearin' cowpoke. He's an effete, cosseted, Eastern prep school party boy who moved to Texas to spend other people's money on the chance that might make him rich. His "Texas" has never been authentic. That's not to say it's put on--he's too much of an idiot for that--but it's the adoption of a generic accentualizing which comes in part from being submerged in a culture with a pervasive and seductive ear--Yanks don't have to live in Britain long before they flatten their "a"s--and in part as the argot of the Texas Rich Guy Club, a sort of aural fraternity handshake.
But fuck that. The comment is too absurd to waste time on. Just as an American must pick up the energy and raise the voicing an octave to do an effective generic British accent, so too does the Easterner or Midwesterner simply lapse into a species of laziness to achieve that drawl. It doesn't mean there isn't some attendant laziness behind it.
Let's have a brief review of the Republican responses to seven years of "Bush is an idiot", shall we?
1. "No he's not."
2. "Yeah, he's an idiot, all right. An idiot like a fox."
3. "Okay, he sounds like an idiot, he exhibits none of the intellectual curiosity or competent grasp of the issues we'd like in a President, but he WON!"
4. "Wow, that was the most inspiring speech I've ever heard a politician give."
They're all delusional, it's just that some are more delusional than others (guess who?). Bush is an idiot. He's not an idiot in the old sense of IQ deficiency, and he's not an idiot just in the sense of doing something stupid based on a faulty grasp of reality, the way we can say, "What an idiot" when someone trips over an obstacle the rest of us categorized as "in plain sight," the way all of us are idiots sometimes.
For far too long, and at far too great a cost, his supporters were able to hide the real meaning of "Bush is an idiot" behind those two strawmen. But, damn, unless you get all your news from what the Right still seems to insist are unvarnished sources, you have to be aware that that game has been lost for some time. 9/11 and the attendant incessant public cheerleading gave George W. Bush a pass long after the public had written him off as a thinker. It eventually found the courage to write him off as a match for the office. That is simply how things are.
Now, a lot of people don't want to believe it, even people who've felt, or come to believe, that George W. Bush's values don't match their own, that he's less than honest and less than truthful. Some of them may have accepted the idea that the President is simply not a good public speaker, the Texas-sized line of codswallop you expect us to swallow this week. But it's not the case. Any native speaker of English knows that what's going on when George W. Bush speaks in public is not simple stagefright, ADD, regional speech variation, dyslexia, or a tendency towards Malapropisms. Speech is not merely words conveyed by sound, or we'd all be driving Ford Pintos. Bush communicates a lot of things when he speaks; among those is a lack of intellectual curiosity, an intolerance for difference of opinion, a sizeable inferiority complex and the concomitant rich boy's mean streak in response. "Bush is an idiot" means a lot of things, many of them things which come straight out of his mouth.
It's not surprising to hear that George W. does better when he's surrounded by a group of sycophants. It's to be expected. He's the living embodiment of the Gentleman's C. It's bad enough that it's taken you this long to even acknowledge the problem. Don't make it worse by claiming it's next to groundless.
The Hinderrocker piece was not only too delusional to take seriously enough to make fun of, it was also to similar to his "George W. Bush, Smartest Man in the World" thingie from a while back. I'm not sure what it means when you're willing to do that twice. I am sure what this means, though:
I've sometimes worried about how President Bush can withstand the Washington snake pit and deal with a daily barrage of hate from the ignorant left that, in my opinion, dwarfs in both volume and injustice the abuse directed against any prior President. (No one accused Lincoln of planning the attack on Fort Sumter.) Not to worry. He is, of course, miles above his mean-spirited liberal critics. More than that, he clearly derives real joy from the opportunity to serve as President and to participate in the great pageant of American history. And he sees himself as anything but a lame duck, which is why he is stumping for Republican candidates around the country.
It means that before you went completely around the bend you somehow managed to avoid even a cursory familiarity with your own history and your own times.