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Intellectually Curious George
townhall ^ | 8/23/06 | Kathleen Parker

Posted on 08/23/2006 4:46:58 AM PDT by Molly Pitcher

``'Curiouser and curiouser!' cried Alice (she was so much surprised, that for the moment she quite forgot how to speak good English).''

-- ``Alice's Adventures in Wonderland," Lewis Carroll

Bush-bashing for sport has never lacked fans in the blogosphere, but questioning the president's intelligence lately has gone mainstream.

Joe Scarborough, former Republican congressman and host of MSNBC's ``Scarborough Country,'' recently tossed his beanie into the ring, running a 10-minute segment titled: ``Is Bush an 'Idiot'?''

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.

No wait, my mistake, she made those comments to reporters and audiences while touring in Canada. But never mind. When Ronstadt talks, people listen. Citing other leading American intellectuals -- The Dixie Chicks, Peter, Paul & Mary, and Joan Baez -- Ronstadt said:

I'm embarrassed George Bush is from the United States. ... He's an idiot. He's enormously incompetent on both the domestic and international scenes.

Scarborough said he felt compelled to explore whether the president is sufficiently intellectually curious, not just because of Ronstadt, but because there have been no shark attacks all summer. No, sorry again, I said that. What Scarborough said was that even conservatives had been making comments similar to Ronstadt's, as reported last week in The Washington Post.

To debate the topic, Scarborough rounded up two intellectually curious commentators -- John Fund of The Wall Street Journal and Lawrence O'Donnell, MSNBC senior political analyst. He also provided a video collection of Bushisms in which the president repeatedly trips over his own tongue and otherwise appears to be playing himself on ``Saturday Night Live."

Fund said that Bush is not dumb, just inarticulate, while O'Donnell suggested that Bush is out of his league. They both may be right, but I'd like to submit an alternative explanation for Bush's linguistic deficit.

Language barrier.

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.''

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.

Tapes of Bush as governor of Texas reveal none of the malapropisms for which he is now infamous. That's because in Texas, he speaks his native tongue -- dropping syllables and esses without fear of criticism or embarrassment. That kind of freedom seems to liberate the man's mind and his mouth.

Anyone who speaks before cameras knows the taste of humility and can relate to the agony of being George Bush.

Even, perhaps, Joe Scarborough, who wrapped up his idiot segment, saying: ``And that is a big question, whether George W. Bush has the intellectual curiousness -- if that's a word -- to continue leading this country over the next couple of years."

My dictionary confirms that ``curiousness" is a word (just barely), though Joe's expression suggested it wasn't the one he meant to use. No worries. Sometimes in the excitement of a moment, even the curiouser and curiouser quite forget how to speak good English.


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Editorial; Extended News; Government; Miscellaneous; News/Current Events; Politics/Elections
KEYWORDS: bushbashing; georgebush

1 posted on 08/23/2006 4:46:59 AM PDT by Molly Pitcher
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To: Molly Pitcher

That's a double barf alert. Who wrote that again? Molly Idiot?


2 posted on 08/23/2006 4:55:49 AM PDT by Pikachu_Dad
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To: Molly Pitcher

Know what I'm saying.


3 posted on 08/23/2006 4:55:59 AM PDT by battlegearboat
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To: Molly Pitcher
I've been hearing "Bush is stupid" comments and jokes so often that they actually don't faze me as much anymore. I just let them roll off me like water off a duck's back, since most of the people who say those things clearly know next to nothing about him, and instead rely on either their own prejudices, the stereotypes that are in the media, and the clips of Bush which they replay on the Daily Show over and over again when the show's writers run out of funny things for Jon Stewart to talk about and need some way to fill up time. Most of those jokes are outdated and done to death anyway, though I do occasionally like the fake Bush interviews that Conan O'Brien does (Then again, I love pretty much all of the fake celebrity interviews that Conan does).
4 posted on 08/23/2006 4:56:31 AM PDT by Chewie84
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To: Molly Pitcher
Am I correct in stating that George Bush is the most educated President that the United States has ever elected? Am I correct that he has a BS from Yale and an MS in Business Administration from Harvard? If true, this places him there with the intellectual elite.

Is this correct.

As I recall Al Gore flunked out of both law school and divinity school. Is this correct?
5 posted on 08/23/2006 4:57:10 AM PDT by Citizen Tom Paine (An old sailor sends)
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To: Pikachu_Dad

Uh, it's a pro-Bush article.


6 posted on 08/23/2006 4:58:19 AM PDT by Steel Wolf (- Islam will never survive being laughed at. -)
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To: Molly Pitcher

I could never become a polished public figure who speaks with a silver tongue. Heck, I can't talk to my mother-in-law without getting tongue tied.

I have always known that the President is constantly trying to say things "just right", because words have powerful meanings. Because of this, I would listen harder, not expect him to just rattle off anything. He is worth listening to, no matter how many simple errors he might make.

It's the concepts and issues that he speaks of that are of the utmost importance. Not to mention, who could live through the past six years with Gore and Kerry droning on!? They have nothing inspiring to say.

His impromptu speech at Ground Zero, his speech in the National Cathedral, his speech after the Space Shuttle tragedy, his speeches in Iraq on two surprise visits... all of these WILL be remembered as highlights in his term, not because sound bites are illuminting. But because his IDEAS are everlasting, not the small slips of the tongue.


7 posted on 08/23/2006 4:59:37 AM PDT by Pan_Yans Wife ("Death is better, a milder fate than tyranny. "--Aeschylus)
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To: Pan_Yans Wife
I have a very close family member who never lost his West Texas language skills, even though, he was a VP with one of largers petroleum companies in the country.

until the day he died, he still taca for taco. But everyone knew what he meant.
8 posted on 08/23/2006 5:05:20 AM PDT by Coldwater Creek ("Over there, over there, We won't be back 'til it's over Over there.")
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To: mariabush

Correction largest


9 posted on 08/23/2006 5:06:03 AM PDT by Coldwater Creek ("Over there, over there, We won't be back 'til it's over Over there.")
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To: Molly Pitcher
...but he'd surely have a higher than 30 percent approval rating...

Strange that writers continue to use President Bush's "approval rating" at its lowest point rather than at its highest point. Approval ratings flucuate all the time. Why is it more pertinent to cite the lowest blip of an unnamed poll?

10 posted on 08/23/2006 5:13:14 AM PDT by RedRover
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To: Molly Pitcher

Good one, Molly.


11 posted on 08/23/2006 5:13:19 AM PDT by lysie ("Lowering the price to be paid by aggressors virtually guarantees more aggression." Dr. Sowell)
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To: Chewie84

EVERY Republican is painted as stupid; that's the only hammer in their toolbox. Dan Quayle? Ronald Reagan? Yep, that's how those REPUBLICANS win the elections...it can't be because the people democratically choose not to vote for Democrats...can it?


12 posted on 08/23/2006 5:15:01 AM PDT by 50sDad (ST3d: Real Star Trek 3d Chess: http://my.ohio.voyager.net/~abartmes/tactical.htm)
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To: RedRover

Hey, that is dead on. He's back in the mid-40's, but every celeb or talking head I hear babbles about it being in the 30's. Lying bastards.


13 posted on 08/23/2006 5:15:53 AM PDT by 50sDad (ST3d: Real Star Trek 3d Chess: http://my.ohio.voyager.net/~abartmes/tactical.htm)
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To: mariabush

My grandmother always said, "puh-day-da" for potato. Everyone always knew what she meant, and of course she could spell it right. :)


14 posted on 08/23/2006 5:23:47 AM PDT by Pan_Yans Wife ("Death is better, a milder fate than tyranny. "--Aeschylus)
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To: Pikachu_Dad
That's a double barf alert. Who wrote that again? Molly Idiot?

Kathleen Parker and it's not a barfer unless you are a Bush-hater.

15 posted on 08/23/2006 5:25:30 AM PDT by Niteranger68 (I gigged your peace frog.)
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To: Molly Pitcher

I have always suspected that Bush "plays dumb" so that he will be "misunderestimated," makng it easier to surprise everyone when he pulls a rabbit out of his hat.

But I also think this is a misguided strategy, and one which has done him a lot of self-inflicted damage which cannot be undone.

A good leader is of necessity a good communicator, IMHO. And a good communicator, Bush ain't.

If he is playing dumb, I wish he would knock it off.


16 posted on 08/23/2006 5:30:16 AM PDT by SerpentDove (Give me your tired, your poor...arguments.)
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To: Molly Pitcher

What the talking (air)heads forget-at their own peril-is that Mr. Bush says what he means, and means what he says. Who cares what they think? Are they President?


17 posted on 08/23/2006 5:34:56 AM PDT by geezerwheezer (get up boys, we're burnin' daylight!!!)
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To: Molly Pitcher
People who normally speak well in public might find themselves stammering if they knew one false word could cause a diplomatic crisis or financial market meltdown.

It's particulalry amusing to see Hollywood stars bash the President's public speaking. They might need six or seven tries to complete a scene and they're working from a script.

18 posted on 08/23/2006 5:53:50 AM PDT by Dilbert56
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To: Molly Pitcher
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.''

The media presented nonstop and unedited coverage of the events surrounding the hours and days immediately following 9/11. Many Americans got their first unscripted, unedited view of their brand-spanking-new President. They liked what they saw. His approval ratings soared.

“I can hear you. The rest of the world can hear you, and the people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon.”

The media works very hard to edit Bush so that he appears inarticualte. Meanwhile, they portray folks like Kerry as brilliant intellectual spokesmen. Why hasn't anyone noticed that these DEMwits wax on and on and never actually say anything?

19 posted on 08/23/2006 6:09:50 AM PDT by Samwise (All that is needed for evil to triumph is that good men do nothing.)
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To: Molly Pitcher

With a straight face Scarborough insisted people in Bush's administration told him they think the President is an idiot.


20 posted on 08/23/2006 6:29:21 AM PDT by OldFriend (I Pledge Allegiance to the Flag.....and My Heart to the Soldier Who Protects It.)
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To: Molly Pitcher

I don't think that anyone who went to Yale for his undergraduate work and then did an MBA at Harvard's B-school is stupid. But as the article observes, Molly Ivins is, for once, correct.

My brother is like this. Very bright man, went to engineering school but is also quite cultured, well-travelled, and well-read, knowledgeable about art, classical music, architecture, and history. Quite an astute person. But he trips over his own tongue and people don't initially realize how very intelligent he is.

It's like the commercial says: "People judge you by the words you use." They also judge you by your accent. And in much of the US, particularly in the Northeast, if you have a Southern or Texas accent and speak a little slower than people do in New York, there is a belief that slower speech = slower thinking. So when the president speaks with a Texas accent and stumbles over the Washingtonese language provided by his speechwriters, the intelligentsia takes him for a fool and then writes articles about how stupid he is. Then the rest of America interprets his malapropisms as evidence of stupidity.


21 posted on 08/23/2006 6:46:27 AM PDT by Fairview
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To: OldFriend

Scarborough is an idiot!! He is Un-WATCHABLE.


22 posted on 08/23/2006 6:49:55 AM PDT by Suzy Quzy ("When Cabals Go Kabooms"....upcoming book on Mary McCarthy's Coup-Plotters.)
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To: Fairview
I argue this with a friend constantly. It's simple "Bush is NOT a good public speaker. Period.

My wife, who formerly worked for Dale Carnegie Training is the same way - despite 12 years of training. In front of a group, she is "almost horrible" - and scared to death. Now, put her one-on-one or in a small group and she is incredible.

I, on the other hand, am the opposite. Put me on a podium in front of a large group and I am funny, informative, and totally comfortable. Make me meet somebody and talk to them one-on-one....I seize up. Hate it.

It's just personality.

23 posted on 08/23/2006 6:53:17 AM PDT by KeepUSfree (WOSD = fascism pure and simple.)
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To: Suzy Quzy
Never did watch the show. Saw the graphic as I was channel surfing and moved right on by. Is Bush an Idiot.

Saw about 30 seconds of the re run last night and there he was making that dreadful comment.

There is nothing on MSNBC that even comes close to be worthy of my time.

24 posted on 08/23/2006 7:06:17 AM PDT by OldFriend (I Pledge Allegiance to the Flag.....and My Heart to the Soldier Who Protects It.)
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To: Suzy Quzy
Scarborough is an idiot!! He is Un-WATCHABLE.

You mean this guy?


25 posted on 08/23/2006 7:10:42 AM PDT by bankwalker (An accusation is often a subconscious confession.)
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To: Fairview

Two of the smartest guys I ever knew spoke like that. SSG Lynch sounded like Goober, Gomer's relative, and was the slickest wheeler dealer I ever saw. He made Phil Silvers Sgt Bilbo character look like an amateur.

He'd leave in the morning with a jeep full of trash, like half empty paint cans and ratty moth-eaten blankets and come back with all kinds of goodies for the platoon. Even got us a TOW missile at Graf one year so the platoon could qualify.

Other fellow was a Texan with one of those high nasal voices. When he was working in a market in Boston while doing to an electronics course the locals would, he said, automatically deduct 30 points from his IQ when he opened his mouth.


26 posted on 08/23/2006 7:24:14 AM PDT by skepsel
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To: Citizen Tom Paine

Yeah, but the lefties continually say that Bush only graduated because of his famous family. Oddly enough, that issue never comes up when its a Kennedy kid in question.


27 posted on 08/23/2006 10:19:44 AM PDT by Democratshavenobrains
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