The Bushisms: Like Father, Like Son By Daniel Kurtzman icon

The Bushisms: Like Father, Like Son By Daniel Kurtzman



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The Bushisms: Like Father, Like Son

By Daniel Kurtzman, AlterNet
September 12, 2001

Poor Dubya. The English language has been terribly unkind to him. So have his critics, who have been quick to deride him as the most syntactically challenged president in our nation's history.

Apparently we have forgotten the verbal feats of Bush the elder, who never met a metaphor he couldn't mangle. "He can't help it," former Texas Gov. Ann Richards once said of George H.W. Bush's frequent verbal miscues. "He was born with a silver foot in his mouth."

Try as we might to read their lips, the George Bushes have often left us searching for meaning, not to mention nouns and verbs. As this side-by-side look at "Bushisms" reveals, Dubya has simply been striving to live up to his father's rhetorical legacy.

The Economy, Stupid

"We're enjoying sluggish times, and not enjoying them very much." – George Bush Sr., Jan. 2, 1992

"I know how hard it is for you to put food on your family." – George W. Bush, Jan. 27, 2000

Freudian Slips

"For seven and a half years I've worked alongside President Reagan. We've had triumphs. Made some mistakes. We've had some sex...uh...setbacks." – George Bush Sr., in 1988

"It was just inebriating what Midland was all about then." – George W. Bush, reflecting in 1994 about growing up in Midland, Texas

Metaphorically Misspeaking

"Please don't ask me to do that which I've just said I'm not going to do, because you're burning up time. The meter is running through the sand on you, and I am now filibustering." – George Bush Sr., April 20, 1989

"The senator has got to understand if he's going to have – he can't have it both ways. He can't take the high horse and then claim the low road." – George W. Bush, Feb. 17, 2000

The Call of the Wild

"If you're worried about caribou, take a look at the arguments that were used about the pipeline. They'd say the caribou would be extinct. You've got to shake them away with a stick. They're all making love lying up against the pipeline and you got thousands of caribou up there." – George Bush Sr., speaking about the Alaskan pipeline, Oct. 31, 1991

"I know the human being and fish can coexist peacefully." – George W. Bush, Sept. 29, 2000

The English Patient

"Fluency in English is something that I'm often not accused of." – George Bush Sr., June 6, 1989

"The woman who knew that I had dyslexia – I never interviewed her." – George W.
Bush, denying a magazine article's claim that he suffers from dyslexia, Sept. 15, 2000

Is Our Children Learning?

"And let me say in conclusion, thanks for the kids. I learned an awful lot about bathtub toys – about how to work the telephone. One guy knows – several of them know their own phone numbers – preparation to go to the dentist. A lot of things I'd forgotten. So it's been a good day." – George Bush Sr., Jan 21, 1992

"You teach a child to read, and he or her will be able to pass a literacy test." – George W. Bush, Feb. 21, 2001

Mistake My Wife, Please

"It has been said by some cynic, maybe it was a former president, 'If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog.' Well, we took them literally – that advice – as you know. But I didn't need that because I have Barbara Bush." – George Bush Sr., March 30, 1989

"The most important job is not to be governor, or first lady in my case." – George W. Bush, Jan. 30, 2000

Winging It

"If a frog had wings, he wouldn't hit his tail on the ground. Too hypothetical." – George Bush Sr., in 1992

"Families is where our nation finds hope, where wings take dream." – George W. Bush, in Oct. 18, 2000

Riding the Wave of the Future

"High tech is potent, precise, and in the end, unbeatable. The truth is, it reminds a lot of people of the way I pitch horseshoes. Would you believe some of the people? Would you believe our dog? Look, I want to give the high-five symbol to high tech." – George Bush Sr., April 25, 1989

"Will the highways on the Internet become more few?" – George W. Bush, Jan. 29, 2000

Poetically Incorrect

"The Democrats want to ram it down my ear in a political victory." – George Bush Sr., Oct. 31, 1991

"We ought to make the pie higher." – George W. Bush, Feb. 15, 2000

Anti-Matters of the Heart

"I hope I stand for antibigotry, anti-Semitism, antiracism. This is what drives me." – George Bush Sr., Jan. 17, 1992

"Unfairly but truthfully, our party has been tagged as being against things. Anti-immigrant, for example. And we're not a party of anti-immigrants. Quite the opposite. We're a party that welcomes people." – George W. Bush, July 1, 2000

Shoot Me

"Obviously, when you see somebody go berserk and get a weapon and go in and murder people, of course, it troubles me." – George Bush Sr., Oct. 17, 1991

"For every fatal shooting, there were roughly three non-fatal shootings. And, folks, this is unacceptable in America. It's just unacceptable. And we're going to do something about it." – George W. Bush, May 14, 2001

Freudian Slips II

"I don't want to run the risk of ruining what is a lovely recession." – George Bush Sr., Oct 22, 1992

"If you're sick and tired of the politics of cynicism and polls and principles, come and join this campaign." – George W. Bush, Feb. 16, 2000

The Dangers of Microphones

"These, they're very dangerous. They trap you. Especially these furry ones...it's these furry guys that get you in real trouble. They can reach out and listen to something so – keep it respectful here." – George Bush Sr., speaking to Arnold Schwarzenegger about the need to be careful when speaking near open microphones, Sept. 13, 1991

"There's Adam Clymer, major league asshole from the New York Times." – George W. Bush, Sept. 4, 2000

Return of the English Patient

"I've been talking the same way for years, so it can't be that serious." – George Bush Sr., Aug. 7, 1988

"I've coined new words, like, misunderstanding and Hispanically." – George W. Bush, March 29, 2001

On the Couch

"To kind of suddenly try to get my hair colored, and dance up and down in a miniskirt or do something, you know, show that I've got a lot of jazz out there and drop a bunch of one-liners, I'm running for the president of the United States...I kind of think I'm a scintillating kind of fellow." – George Bush Sr., April 26, 1988

"Actually, I – this may sound a little West Texan to you, but I like it. When I'm talking about – when I'm talking about myself, and when he's talking about myself, all of us are talking about me." – George W. Bush, May 31, 2000

The Electability Thing

"I don't want to get, you know, here we are close to the election – sounding a knell of overconfidence that I don't feel." – George Bush Sr., Nov. 6, 1988

"I don't know whether I'm going to win or not. I think I am. I do know I'm ready for the job. And, if not, that's just the way it goes." – George W. Bush, Aug. 21, 2000

Daniel Kurtzman is a San Francisco-based writer and former Washington political correspondent. He runs About.com's political humor Web site, which can be found at politicalhumor.about.com.

AlterNet: The Bushisms: Like Father, Like Son


Misspoken: Mouth in foot disease



misspokenppl.v. 1. (US only) To speak mistakenly, inappropriately, or rashly. 2. past part. of MISSPAKE, possibly.

USAGE: White House officials rushed to assure rattled currency traders that President Bush had "misspoken" when referring to the "devaluation" (lowering the exchange rate) of Japan's troubled yen. He, of course, meant "deflation" (falling prices) - a word which wouldn't have immediately knocked half a yen off the currency's dollar value.

ORIGIN: presumably a compression of the words "mistaken" and "spoken" (cf. to be spoketaken), it is used almost exclusively by unnamed political spokespeople (cf. misspokespeople) to defuse rows without calling any involved party stupid, a liar or worse.

EXAMPLE: "I think [General Schwarzkopf] may have misspoken. He's just not used to doing a lot of television": an unnamed Pentagon official reinterpreting a 1991 TV interview in which Stormin' Noman said he wanted to "annihilate" the Iraqi army.

^ NOT TO BE CONFUSED WITH: Bushism. No longer denotes the President's linguistic gaffes (aka Bushlexia), the Washington Post has begun to talk of Bushism as an proper "ism" - like Thatcherism or Reaganism.

"Bushism - or in deference to his father, should we call it Dubya-ism? - may be the route to a new conservative ascendancy." EJ Dionne Jr. 27/01/02.

ALSO SEE: Bushisms as a particular and positive form of post-11 September political speech. Criticisms of the President's grip on English have slowed to a trickle in the US press since the terror attacks.

Time magazine now classifies such phrases as "evildoers" within the lexicon of Bushisms.

^ ALSO NOT TO BE CONFUSED WITH: a mere misunderestimation of the power of words.

Has clear English been devalued or merely deflated? Comments and suggestions can be submitted to the E-cyclopedia by clicking here.



^ Your comments:

Reader Ross Larsen (USA) writes:

Bush is a president for these times and the cynic in me thinks a lot of Americans only resent people who sound smarter than them. That's why the man's obvious stupidity is endearing to them.

BBC News

Wednesday, 20 February, 2002, 09:20 GMT



^ Now Rumsfeld Has Foot in Mouth

12/04/2003 12:30

US Secretary of Defense awarded for making the most puzzling statement
Britain's public organization Plain English Campaign awarded its annual prize Foot in Mouth to US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. The decision to award the prize was made after Donald Rumsfeld's statement at a press-conference in February 2002: "Reports that say something hasn't happened are always interesting to me, because as we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns - the ones we don't know we don't know."

John Lister from Plain English Campaign says smilingly about the prize awarded to the US secretary of defense: "We believe he knew what he meant. But we do not know if we know it for sure."
   
The newly elected California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger was Rumsfeld's key rival. He drew attention of Plain English Campaign with the following statement: "I think that gay marriage is something that should be between a man and a woman." But the jury found the statement by the US secretary of defense the most puzzling one.

Russia's Ambassador to Ukraine Viktor Chernomyrdin is also known for his inclination for complicated and puzzling statements. However, only statements made in English were considered by the public organization in the framework of the contest. MIGnews with reference to ABC and Interfax provided the information.

http://english.pravda.ru/



Rumsfeld gets 'foot in mouth'
^ CHIDANAND RAJGHATTA

TIMES NEWS NETWORK[ TUESDAY, DECEMBER 02, 2003 02:29:03 PM ]


WASHINGTON: George Bush has competition. In fact, he has been beaten by his Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld for a "foot in the mouth" award given by the British Plain English Campaign for the most nonsensical statement made by a public figure.



“We also know there are known unknowns…the ones we don’t know, we don’t know.”


 

Rumsfeld's winning remark came at February news conference, when, in a profound reflection of the events in Iraq, he observed that, "There are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns."

 

For sheer indecipherable drivel, Rumsfeld’s gobbledygook surpassed a whole catalog of Bush baloney that is now commonly known by the term "Bushisms".

  Among the well-chronicled masterpieces from the leader of the Free World  

  • I'm a patient man. And when I say I'm a patient man, I mean I'm a patient man.  

  •    know what I believe. I will continue to articulate what I believe and what I believe — I believe what I believe is right  

  •    recently met with the finance minister of the Palestinian Authority, was very impressed by his grasp of finances  

  •    promise you I will listen to what has been said here, even though I wasn't here

    For a century and a half now, America and Japan have formed one of the great and enduring alliances of modern times

  A spokesman for the organization which gave the award, and which tries to ensure public information is delivered in a clear manner, said Rumsfeld's remarks were typical of the kind of comments they were trying to prevent.


 

^ SOME FAMOUS BUSHISMS

When Iraq is liberated, you will be treated, tried, and persecuted as a war criminal

 

These people don't have tanks. They don't have ships. They hide in caves. They send suiciders out

 

It would be a mistake for the United States Senate to allow any kind of human cloning to come out of that chamber

 

There's no question that the minute I got elected, the storm clouds on the horizon were getting nearly directly overhead

 

Security is the essential roadblock to achieving the road map to peace


"We think we know what he means," he told Reuters news agency. "But we don't know if we really know."

 

Rumsfeld not only outdid Bush, but also fought off competition from actor turned California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. The Governorator’s contribution: "I think that gay marriage is something that should be between a man and a woman."

 

The other notable entry came from a recent visitor to India, European Commissioner Chris Patten, for his remark that "the British Conservative Party had committed political suicide and was now living to regret it."

 

Previous winners include another familiar face in India, actor Richard Gere, who was given the raspberry last year for telling an interviewer, "I know who I am. No one else knows who I am. If I was a giraffe and somebody said I was a snake, I'd think 'No, actually I am a giraffe."

 

However, Bush, Rumsfeld and Schwartzenegger all do disservice to the great American reputation for terse speech.

 

The most famous contribution in this matter came from General Anthony McAuliffe, who, after receiving a lengthy communiqué from the Germans to surrender during the Battle of the Bulge, responded with a single word.

 

“Nuts!”




^ MONDAY, DECEMBER 8, 2003
THE TIMES OF INDIA





Advertisement






^ The Bushisms: Poppy and Dubya Speak






By Daniel Kurtzman

Former President George Bush was never known for his command of the English language. "He can't help it," former Texas Gov. Ann Richards once said of the elder Bush’s frequent verbal miscues. "He was born with a silver foot in his mouth."










In his bid to fill his father’s shoes, George W. Bush has proven to be a skillful butcher of syntax in his own right. One reporter covering his presidential campaign dubbed him "The English Patient."

As this side-by-side look at "Bushisms" reveals, Dubya has been striving hard to match Poppy’s rhetorical feats.



^ The Economy, Stupid

"We're enjoying sluggish times, and not enjoying them very much." —George Bush Sr., in 1992

"A tax cut is really one of the anecdotes to coming out of an economic illness." —George W. Bush, in Sept. 2000



^ Mangled Metaphors

"Please don't ask me to do that which I've just said I'm not going to do, because you're burning up time. The meter is running through the sand on you, and I am now filibustering." —George Bush Sr., in 1989

"The senator has got to understand if he's going to have — he can't have it both ways. He can't take the high horse and then claim the low road." —George W. Bush, in Feb. 2000



The Call of the Wild

"If you're worried about caribou, take a look at the arguments that were used about the pipeline. They'd say the caribou would be extinct. You've got to shake them away with a stick. They're all making love lying up against the pipeline and you got thousands of caribou up there." —George Bush Sr., speaking in 1991 about the Alaskan pipeline

"I know the human being and fish can coexist peacefully." —George W. Bush, in Sept. 2000



^ The Dangers of Microphones

"These, they're very dangerous. They trap you. Especially these furry ones...it's these furry guys that get you in real trouble. They can reach out and listen to something so — keep it respectful here." —George Bush Sr., speaking to Arnold Schwarzenegger in 1991 about the need to be careful when speaking near open microphones

"There's Adam Clymer, major league asshole from the^ New York Times." —George W. Bush, in Sept. 2000



Linguistic Abilities

"Fluency in English is something that I'm often not accused of." —George Bush Sr., in 1989

"The woman who knew that I had dyslexia — I never interviewed her." —George W. Bush, in Sept. 2000, denying a magazine article's claim that he suffers from dyslexia



^ Mistake My Wife, Please

"It has been said by some cynic, maybe it was a former president, 'If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog.' Well, we took them literally — that advice — as you know. But I didn't need that because I have Barbara Bush." —George Bush Sr., in 1989

"The most important job is not to be governor, or first lady in my case." —George W. Bush, in Jan. 2000



^ Anti-Matters of the Heart

"I hope I stand for antibigotry, anti-Semitism, antiracism. This is what drives me." —George Bush Sr., in 1988

"Unfairly but truthfully, our party has been tagged as being against things. Anti-immigrant, for example. And we're not a party of anti-immigrants. Quite the opposite. We're a party that welcomes people." —George W. Bush, in July 2000



^ Man's Best Friend

"Let me give you a little serious political advice. One single word. Puppies. Worth the points." —George Bush Sr., in 1990

"If the terriers and bariffs are torn down, this economy will grow." —George W. Bush, in Jan. 2000



^ Political Savvy

"It's no exaggeration to say the undecideds could go one way or another." —George Bush Sr., in 1988

"Listen, Al Gore is a very tough opponent. He is the incumbent. He represents the incumbency. And a challenger is somebody who generally comes from the pack and wins, if you're going to win. And that's where I'm coming from." —George W. Bush, in Sept. 2000



^ Freudian Slips

"For seven and a half years I've worked alongside President Reagan. We've had triumphs. Made some mistakes. We've had some sex...uh...setbacks." —George Bush Sr., in 1988

"It was just inebriating what Midland was all about then." —George W. Bush, reflecting in 1994 about growing up in Midland, Texas

"When I need a little advice about Saddam Hussein, I turn to country music."

^ Combating International Terrorism

"When I need a little advice about Saddam Hussein, I turn to country music." —George Bush Sr., in 1991

"We cannot let terrorists and rogue nations hold this nation hostile or hold our allies hostile.'' —George W. Bush, in Aug. 2000



^ Riding the Wave of the Future

"High tech is potent, precise, and in the end, unbeatable. The truth is, it reminds a lot of people of the way I pitch horseshoes. Would you believe some of the people? Would you believe our dog? Look, I want to give the high-five symbol to high tech." —George Bush Sr., in 1989

"Will the highways on the Internet become more few?" —George W. Bush, in Jan. 2000



^ Misguided Imagery

"If a frog had wings, he wouldn't hit his tail on the ground. Too hypothetical." —George Bush Sr., in 1992

"Families is where our nation finds hope, where wings take dream." —George W. Bush, in Oct.. 2000



Don't Quota Me

"It gets into quota, go into numerical, set numbers for doctors or for, it could go into all kinds of things." —George Bush Sr.

"What I am against is quotas. I am against hard quotas, quotas they basically delineate based upon whatever. However they delineate, quotas, I think vulcanize society. So I don't know how that fits into what everybody else is saying, their relative positions, but that's my position.'' —George W. Bush, in Jan. 2000



^ Making the Grade

"And let me say in conclusion, thanks for the kids. I learned an awful lot about bathtub toys — about how to work the telephone. One guy knows — several of them know their own phone numbers — preparation to go to the dentist. A lot of things I'd forgotten. So it's been a good day." —George Bush Sr., in 1992

"Rarely is the question asked: Is our children learning?" —George W. Bush, in Jan. 2000



^ Webster's, to Heck With It

"Those are two hyporhetorical questions." —George Bush Sr., in 1988

"I've got a record, a record that is conservative and a record that is compassionated." —George W. Bush, in March 2000



^ Poetically Incorrect

"The Democrats want to ram it down my ear in a political victory." —George Bush Sr., in 1991

"We ought to make the pie higher." —George W. Bush, in Feb. 2000



^ On the Couch

"To kind of suddenly try to get my hair colored, and dance up and down in a miniskirt or do something, you know, show that I've got a lot of jazz out there and drop a bunch of one-liners, I'm running for the president of the United States...I kind of think I'm a scintillating kind of fellow." —George Bush Sr., in 1988

"Actually, I — this may sound a little West Texan to you, but I like it. When I'm talking about — when I'm talking about myself, and when he's talking about myself, all of us are talking about me." —George W. Bush, in May 2000



^ The Electability Thing

"I don't want to get, you know, here we are close to the election — sounding a knell of overconfidence that I don't feel." —George Bush Sr., in 1988

"I don't know whether I'm going to win or not. I think I am. I do know I'm ready for the job. And, if not, that's just the way it goes." —George W. Bush, in Aug. 2000


^ Are You An Expert on Bushspeak?
Take the Bushisms Quiz

More Bushisms
The Latest Adventures in Bushspeak




http://politicalhumor.about.com/library/weekly/aa102400a.htm


^ Fun With Malapropisms

  • "Oftentimes, we live in a processed world—you know, people focus on the process and not results."
    —Bush, speaking on the Middle East peace process
    Source: Public Papers of the Presidents, "Interview With Print Journalists," June 2, 2003

  • "It's important for [the United Nations'] words to mean what they say, and as we head into the 21st century, Mark, when it comes to our security, we really don't need anybody's permission."
    —Bush, during a press conference in 2003 (in the 21st century)
    Source: Federal Document Clearing House, "President George Bush Discusses Iraq in National Press Conference," March 6, 2003

  • "Columbia carried in its payroll classroom experiments from some of our students in America."
    Source: The Washington Post, "With Edwards, White House Shows First-Strike Capability," Dana Milbank, Feb. 11, 2003

  • "Should any Iraqi officer or soldier receive an order from Saddam Hussein ... don't follow that order. Because if you choose to do so, when Iraq is liberated, you will be treated, tried and persecuted as a war criminal."
    Source: Federal Document Clearing House, "Taking Action to Strengthen Small Business Remarks by the President on the Economy," Jan. 22, 2003

  • "The law I sign today directs new funds and new focus to the task of collecting vital intelligence on terrorist threats and on weapons of mass production."
    Source: Federal Document Clearing House, "President Signs 911 Commission Bill," Nov. 27, 2002

  • "Corporate malfeance [sic] has had an effect on our economy and we need to do something about it."
    Source: FDCH Political Transcripts, "George W. Bush Participates in Rally at Oakland County Airport," Oct. 14, 2002

  • "Speaking about barbaric regimes, we must deal with probably one of the most—not probably—one of the most real threats we face, and that is the idea of a barbaric regime teaming up with a terrorist network and providing weapons of mass destruction to hold the United States and our allies and our friends blackmail."
    Source: FDCH Political Transcripts, "George W. Bush Participates in Alexander for Senate Luncheon," Sept. 17, 2002

^ Bush's Inner Wordsmith

  • "A free, peaceful Zimbabwe has got the capacity to deliver a lot of goods and services which are needed on this continent in order to help aleve suffering."
    —Bush, making a plug for "Aleve" pain reliever in speaking about alleviating suffering in Africa
    Source: The White House, "President Bush Discusses U.S.-Africa Partnership from South Africa, Press Availability with President Bush and President Mbeki of South Africa," July 9, 2003

  • "I used the expression 'ride herd.' I don't know if anybody understood the meaning. It's a little informal in diplomatic terms. I said, we're going to put a guy on the ground to ride herd on the process. See them all scratching their heads."
    —Bush, realizing few people understand him when he speaks
    Source: ^ New York Times, "The President's Trip, In the President's Words: 'A Mutual Desire to Work Toward the Vision," June 5, 2003

  • "We've had a great weekend here in the land of the enchanted."
    —Bush, referring to New Mexico, "The Land of Enchantment"
    Source: Federal Document Clearinghouse, "George W. Bush Delivers Remarks on Jobs and Growth in Albuquerque," May 12, 2003

  • "These people don't have tanks. They don't have ships. They hide in caves. They send suiciders out."
    Source: Federal News Service, "Remarks by President George W. Bush At Welcome Rally," Nov. 1, 2002

  • "A lame duck session, for people who don't know what that means, it means the Senate is coming and the House is coming back between now and Christmas and they've got a few days to get some big things done."
    Source: FDCH Political Transcripts, "President Bush Holds Press Conference, Presidential Hall, Dwight D. Eisenhower Executive Office Building," Nov. 7, 2002

  • "We hold dear what our Declaration of Independence says, that all have got uninalienable rights, endowed by a Creator."
    Source: The New York Times, "Reporter's Notebook; Skipping Borders, Tripping Diction," David E. Sanger, May 28, 2002

Grammar: Bush's Foe

  • "Education belongs to everybody. High standards belongs to everybody."
    Source: White House speech, Oct. 2, 2003

  • "The other issue regarding health care is whether or not health care is affordable and available. And one reason it's not in certain communities is because there is (sic) too many lawsuits."
    Source: White House, "President Discusses Tax Relief in Minnesota: Remarks by the President on the Economy," June 19, 2003

  • "The proposal we've proposed will save him nearly $2,400 every year."
    —Bush, in another display of the depth and breadth of his language skills
    Source: Federal Document Clearinghouse, "President Bush Speaks to the Tax Relief Coalition, U.S. Chamber of Commerce," May 6, 2003

  • "Maybe between the time I left Camp David and here I'll learn more."
    —Bush, speaking to reporters after returning from Camp David
    Source: Public Papers of the Presidents, "Remarks on Returning From Camp David, Maryland, and an Exchange with Reporters," March 23, 2003

  • "What is life choices about?"
    —Bush, speaking to student athletes
    Source: Federal Document Clearing House, "President Welcomes NCAA Champs," Feb. 24, 2003

  • "The more money they have in their more pockets — in their pockets, the more likely it is that somebody will find work."
    Source: Federal Document Clearing House, "George W. Bush Delivers Remarks to the GOP Resort from the Greenbriar Resort," Feb. 9, 2003

  • "One year ago today, the time for excuse-making has come to an end."
    Source: Federal News Service, "Remarks by President George W. Bush on Anniversary of No Child Left Behind Act," Jan. 8, 2003

  • "And out of the evil done to America is going to come a more peaceful world, and a more better America..."
    Source: FDCH Political Transcripts, "George W. Bush Participates in Welcome Ceremony," Oct. 22, 2002

  • "Some communities, you say, "Hey, American dream," and they go, "What does that mean?"
    Source: FDCH Political Transcripts, "George W. Bush Participates in Manchester, New Hampshire Welcome," Oct. 5, 2002

  • "There is no second-rate children in Arizona. There's no second-rate children in America."
    Source: FDCH Political Transcripts, "George W. Bush Delivers Remarks at Salmon for Governor and Renzi for Congress Fund-raiser," Sept. 27, 2002

  • "What is your ambitions?"
    —Bush, speaking at the Parkview Arts and Science Magnet School
    Source: Federal News Service, "Remarks by President George W. Bush at a Back-to-School Event," Aug. 29, 2002

  • "We will be steadfast and strong in our desire to make the world more free."
    Source: Federal News Service, "Remarks by President George W. Bush at 'Simon for Governor' Luncheon," Aug. 23, 2002

  • "When one of us suffer, all of us suffers."
    —Bush, addressing the Pennsylvania coal miners
    Source: The Nation, "W. and the Coal Miners: Photo-op Cover for Anti-worker Policies," David Corn, Aug. 6, 2002

  • "You teach a child to read, and he or her will be able to pass a literacy test."
    Source: United Press International, "Bush Proposes Increase in Education Funds," Mark Kukis, Feb. 21, 2001

Foot-in-Mouth Disease Strikes Again

  • "And then we marched to war, war in Afghanistan and Iraq, all of which affected the people's confidence. That's a tough — tough hurdles to cross, when it came to our economy."
    —Bush, speaking in Winston-Salem, N.C., Nov. 7, 2003

  • "See, we want everybody in this country, every person — we want the addict, we want the single lonely mom, we want the child, the dyslexic child — all to feel a part of the future of this country."
    —Bush, speaking in Dallas, Texas, on Oct. 29, 2003

  • "I'm sure there's a lot of people frightened — biotechnology is a long word and it sounds — they may say, well, I don't know if I'm smart enough to be in biotechnology, or it sounds too sophisticated to be in biotechnology."
    —Bush, speaking in Winston-Salem, N.C., on Nov. 7, 2003

  • "The world is more peaceful and more free under my leadership."
    Source: The Boston Globe, Oct. 29, 2003

  • "See, free nations do not develop weapons of mass destruction."
    —So W., does this mean the U.S. is not a free nation?...
    Source: The Chicago Sun-Times, Oct. 13, 2003

  • "I appreciate people's opinions, but I'm more interested in news. And the best way to get the news is from objective sources, and the most objective sources I have are people on my staff who tell me what's happening in the world."
    —Bush, redefining "objectivity."
    Source: CNN, "Bush 'Not Paying Attention' to Democratic Race: President Getting His News From Aides," Sept. 23, 2003

  • "There's too much leaking in Washington. That's just the way it is. And we've had leaks out of the administrative branch, had leaks out of the legislative branch, and out of the executive branch and the legislative branch."
    —Bush, adding a fourth branch of government while leaving out the third.
    Source: White House Office of the Press Secretary, "News Release: President Discusses Job Creation With Business Leaders," Sept. 30, 2003

  • REPORTER: "[The California recall is] the biggest political story in the country. Is it hard to go in there and say nothing about it?"
    GEORGE W. BUSH: "It is the biggest political story in the country? That's interesting. That says a lot. That speaks volumes."
    REPORTER: "You don't agree?"
    GEORGE W. BUSH: "It's up to—I don't get to decide the biggest political story. You decide the biggest political story. But I find it interesting that that is the biggest political story in the country, as you just said."
    REPORTER: "You don't think it should be?"
    GEORGE W. BUSH: "Oh, I think there's maybe other political stories. Isn't there, like, a presidential race coming up? Maybe that says something. It speaks volumes, if you know what I mean."

    —Bush, sharing his insights on the 2004 election, Aug. 13, 2003.
    Source: Source: PBS Online News Hour, "California Certifies 135 Candidates in Recall Election," Aug. 14, 2003.

  • "We need to thin our forests in America."
    —Bush, on the evil of forests, Aug. 11, 2003
    Source: The Arizona Republic, "In Arizona, Bush Touts His Idea to Thin Forests," Aug. 12, 2003.

  • "We're expediting the administrative appeals process, so that disputes over projects are resolved quickly. In other words, not everybody agrees with thinning, there will objections. But we want those objections to be heard, of course—every citizen needs to hear a voice."
    —Bush, hearing voices in Summerhaven, Ariz.
    Source: The White House, "President Bush Promotes Healthy Forests in Arizona," Aug. 11, 2003

  • "I said you were a man of peace. I want you to know I took immense crap for that."
    —Bush, speaking to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon
    Source: ^ Washington Post, "Bush Sticks to the Broad Strokes," Glenn Kessler, June 3, 2003

  • "I'm also not very analytical. You know I don't spend a lot of time thinking about myself, about why I do things."
    —Bush, reassuring us that the wartime president of the most powerful nation on earth does not think too much
    Source: Federal Document Clearing House, "Roundtable Interview of the President by White House Press Pool," June 4, 2003

  • "I've got very good relations with President Mubarak and Crown Prince Abdullah and the King of Jordan, Gulf Coast countries."
    —Bush, confusing the Gulf Coast with the Persian Gulf
    Source: Public Papers of the Presidents, "Interview With Print Journalists," June 2, 2003

  • "I am the master of low expectations."
    Source: Agence France Presse, "Bush Says Middle East Summit 'Met Expectations'," June 4, 2003

  • "We ended the rule of one of history's worst tyrants, and in doing so we not only freed the American people, we made our own people more secure."
    —Bush, on regime change in the United States
    Source: Federal Document Clearinghouse, "President George W. Bush and Australian Prime Minister John Howard Hold Joint Media Availability," May 3, 2003

  • "It will take time to restore chaos and order—but we—order out of chaos."
    —Bush, speaking to reporters about the situation in Iraq
    Source: Federal Document Clearing House, "President George W. Bush Delivers Remarks Regarding POWS," April 13, 2003

  • "And, most importantly, Alma Powell, secretary of Colin Powell, is with us."
    —Bush, introducing Alma Powell, wife of Secretary of State Colin Powell
    Source: Federal News Service, "Remarks by President George W. Bush on First Anniversary of the USA Freedom Corps," Jan. 30, 2003

  • "The war on terror involves Saddam Hussein because of the nature of Saddam Hussein, the history of Saddam Hussein and his willingness to terrorize himself."
    Source: The Washington Post, "With Edwards, White House Shows First-Strike Capability," Dana Milbank, Feb. 11, 2003

  • "The Iraqi regime is a threat to any American and to threats who are friends of America."
    Source: Federal Document Clearing House, "President Rallies Troops at Fort Hood," Jan. 3, 2003

  • "They see the risks are high, the risk of being able to find a job or the risk of keeping the homeland secure."
    Source: FDCH Political Transcripts, "President Bush Holds Press Conference, Presidential Hall, Dwight D. Eisenhower Executive Office Building," Nov. 7, 2002

  • "And I know something about being a government. And you've got a good one."
    Source: FDCH Political Transcripts, "Remarks by the President at Arkansas Welcome, Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport," Nov. 4, 2002

  • "If you want to build a big project and you can't get insurance because of what the terrorists have done for America, you can put the project aside."
    Source: FDCH Political Transcripts, "George W. Bush Participates in Rally at Oakland County Airport," Oct. 14, 2002

  • "I was proud the other day when both Republicans and Democrats stood with me in the Rose Garden to announce their support for a clear statement of purpose, "You disarm, or we will.'"
    —Bush, speaking about Saddam Hussein
    Source: FDCH Political Transcripts, "George W. Bush Delivers Remarks at a Sununu for Senate Fundraiser," Oct. 5, 2002

  • "If you find a neighbor in need, you're responsible for serving that neighbor in need, you're responsible for loving a neighbor just like you'd like to love yourself."
    Source: FDCH Political Transcripts, "George W. Bush Delivers Remarks on the Economy," Sept. 16, 2002

  • "There's no doubt in my mind that we should allow the world worst leaders to hold America hostage, to threaten our peace, to threaten our friends and allies with the world's worst weapons."
    Source: Federal Document Clearing House, "Remarks by the President at Chris Chocola for Congress, and Indiana Victory 2002 Finance Dinner," Sept. 5, 2002

  • "And when we find children trapped in schools which will not teach and will not change, as a society we must demand something better, because there is no second-rate children in America."
    Source: Federal Document Clearing House, "Remarks by the President at Chris Chocola for Congress, and Indiana Victory 2002 Finance Dinner," Sept. 5, 2002

  • "There's no bigger task than protecting the homeland of our country."
    Source: Federal News Service, "Remarks by President George W. Bush at 'Simon for Governor' Luncheon," Aug. 23, 2002

  • "But here in Texas we took [trial lawyers] on and got some good medical—medical malpractice, which evidently had a few loopholes in it."
    Source: PR Newswire, "Remarks by the President at the Economic Forum Health Care Security Session," Aug. 13, 2002

  • "Tommy is a good listener, and he's a pretty good actor, too. He can get things done. Action man, we call him."
    —Bush, referring to Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson Source: PR Newswire, "Remarks by the President at the Economic Forum Health Care Security Session," Aug. 13, 2002

  • "I promise you I will listen to what has been said here, even though I wasn't here."
    Source: PR Newswire, "Remarks by the President at the Economic Forum Health Care Security Session," Aug. 13, 2002

  • "The consultation process is a positive part of really allowing people to fully understand our deep concerns about this man, his regime and his desires to have weapons of mass destruction. Last question—and then I've got to go chip and putt for a birdie. [Laughter.] It was a good drive."
    —Bush, interrupting an Aug. 10 golf game in Waco, Texas, for a Q & A discussing possible U.S. military action against Iraq.
    Source: The Washington Post, "White House Veteran to New Guy: Oh, Beha-aaa-ave!," Lloyd Grove, Aug. 13, 2002

  • "Do you have blacks, too?"
    —Bush, speaking to Brazilian President Fernando Henrique Cardoso.
    Source: Salon.com, "Bushed," Jake Tapper, June 20, 2002

  • "A dictatorship would be a heck of a lot easier, there's no question about it."
    Source: Business Week Online, "A Gentleman's "C" for W," Richard S. Dunham, July 30, 2001

^ Barely Comprehensible and Funny

  • "You know, let me talk about Al Qaida just for a second. I made the statement that we're dismantling senior management, and we are. Our people have done a really good job of hauling in a lot of the key operators. Khalid Shaikh Mohammed. Abu Zubaida. Ramzi--Ramzi alshibh or whatever that guy's name was."
    —Bush, at a July 30 press conference
    Source: Washington Post, July 30, 2003

  • "By making the right choices, we can make the right choice for our future."
    —Bush, sharing insights into improving Americans' health and fitness
    Source: The White House, "President Bush Highlights Health and Fitness Initiative: Remarks by the President on Fitness," July 18, 2003

  • "In 2000, alone, obesity costs totaled the country an estimated cost of $117 billion."
    —Bush, promoting his Health and Fitness Initiative
    Source: The White House, "President Bush Highlights Health and Fitness Initiative: Remarks by the President on Fitness," July 18, 2003

  • "But we will bring the weapons and, of course—we will bring the information forward on the weapons when they find them. And that will end up—end all this speculation. I understand there has been a lot of speculation over in Great Britain, we've got a little bit of it here, about whether or not the—whether or not the actions were based upon valid information. We can debate that all day long, until the truth shows up."
    —Bush, unwavering in his certainty that one way or another WMDs will appear in Iraq
    Source: The White House, "President Bush, Prime Minister Blair Discuss War on Terrorism," July 17, 2003

  • "I had the opportunity to go out to Goree Island and talk about what slavery meant to America. It's very interesting when you think about it, the slaves who left here to go to America, because of their steadfast and their religion and their belief in freedom, helped change America. America is what it is today because of what went on in the past."
    —Bush, commenting on the significance of slavery in America's past
    Source: White House, "Remarks by the President to Embassy Personnel, Leopold Sedar Senghor International Airport, Dakar, Senegal," July 8, 2003

  • "And then we'll be going to Goree Island, where I'll be giving a speech about race, race in the world, race as it relates to Africa and America. And we're in the process of writing it. I can't give you any highlights of the speech yet because I, frankly, haven't seen it."
    —Bush, discussing preparations for his trip to Africa
    Source: White House, "President Bush Discusses Upcoming Africa Trip with Reporters Remarks by the President in Roundtable Interview with African Print Journalists," July 3, 2003

  • "We are in the process of helping them implement a strategy which is was described to us in Aqaba as to how the Palestinian Authority want to reconstitute a security force in order to make sure the terrorists, the haters of peace, those who can't stand freedom do not have their way in the Middle East."
    —Bush, on smoothing some of the bumps in the road to peace in the Middle East
    Source: The White House, "President Believes Peace in Middle East is Achievable: Remarks by the President to the Travel Pool," June 15, 2003

  • "I think that freedom is a powerful incentive. And I am—I believe that someday freedom will prevail everywhere, because freedom is a powerful drive for people to—and it's the beginnings of people expressing themselves toward a free Iran, which I think is positive."
    —Bush, on recent protests in Iran
    Source: The White House, "President Believes Peace in Middle East is Achievable: Remarks by the President to the Travel Pool," June 15, 2003

  • "Wait for us to succeed peace. Wait for us to have two states, side by side—is for everybody coming together to deny the killers the opportunity to destroy."
    —Bush, speaking to reporters
    Source: The White House, "President Believes Peace in Middle East is Achievable: Remarks by the President to the Travel Pool," June 15, 2003

  • "And if one of those jobs are created, we must have a system which trains people for the jobs which actually exist."
    —Bush, discussing employment training
    Source: U.S. Newswire, "Remarks by the President on Employment Training," June 17, 2003

  • "First, let me make it very clear, poor people aren't necessarily killers. Just because you happen to be not rich doesn't mean you're willing to kill."
    —Bush, speaking about terrorism and poverty
    Source: Public Papers of the Presidents, "The President's News Conference With President Macapagal-Arroyo of the Philippines," May 26, 2003

  • "Some one of my visits—one of the reasons I'm visiting here is to ask the question, you know, to people, because if there's moving too slow or people are saying one thing and the other thing is not happening, now's the time to find out."
    —Bush, talking about hurricane relief
    Source: Federal Document Clearing House, "George W. Bush Delivers Remarks on Tornado Damage," May 13, 2003

  • "We can help somebody who hurts by hugging a neighbor in need."
    Source: Federal News Service, "Remarks by President George W. Bush To Marine Personnel and Their Families," April 3, 2003

  • "And as I said in my State of the Union, the idea is to see that a car born today—I mean, a child born today will be driving a car, as his or her first car, which will be powered by hydrogen and pollution-free."
    Source: Federal News Service, "Remarks by President George W. Bush Re: Energy Independence," Feb. 6, 2003

  • "There was a good news story in Mississippi. I went down there and—it wasn't because of me, it was because the doctors and the citizens understand the cost of a trial system gone array and they got themselves a law."
    Source: Federal Document Clearing House, "President Calls for Medical Liability Reform," Jan. 16, 2003

  • "I mentioned early on that I recognize there are hurdles, and we're going to achieve those hurdles."
    Source: Federal News Service, "Remarks by President George W. Bush," Jan. 22, 2003

  • "There's only one person who hugs the mothers and the widows, the wives and the kids upon the death of their loved one. Others hug but having committed the troops, I've got an additional responsibility to hug and that's me and I know what it's like."
    Source: ABC News Transcripts, "President Bush and First Lady Bush '20/20' Year-End Interview," Dec. 13, 2002

  • "The goals for this country are peace in the world. And the goals for this country are a compassionate American for every single citizen. That compassion is found in the hearts and souls of the American citizens."
    Source: Federal Document Clearing House, "President Visits D.C. Food Bank," Dec. 19, 2002

  • "Sometimes Washington is one of these towns where the people who think they've got the sharp elbows are the most effective person."
    Source: Federal Document Clearing House, "George W. Bush Participates in a Terrell-for-Senate Luncheon," Dec. 3, 2002

  • "The solid truth of the matter is, when you find—if you want to help heal the hurt, if you want to you hurt people—help people in pain, the best way to do so is to call upon the great strength of the country, which is the compassion of our fellow Americans."
    Source: FDCH Political Transcripts, "George W. Bush Delivers Remarks," Nov. 4, 2002

  • "I want the youngsters here to remember the story of Flight 93, one of most profound parts of this entire history of the recent history we've been through."
    Source: Federal News Service, "President Bush Remarks at Missouri Welcome," Nov. 4, 2002

  • "This is a—this is a—any strike's a tough—tough situation, but this one happens to come at a—or a lockout is a tough situation, or no work is a tough situation—is to come at bad time."
    Source: Federal News Service, "Remarks by President Bush Following Meeting with Congressional Leaders to Discuss Terrorism Insurance," Oct. 1, 2002

  • "There's an old saying in Tennessee—I know it's in Texas, probably in Tennessee—that says: Fool me once, shame on [pause] shame on you. [Pause] Fool me [long, uncomfortable, agonizing pause] you can't get fooled again."
    Source: The Washington Post, "The Reliable Source," Lloyd Grove, Sept. 18, 2002

  • "We're going to have a White House forum there in Washington, D.C., obviously—that's where the White House is ..."
    Source: FDCH Political Transcripts, "George W. Bush Participates in Pledge Across America," Sept. 17, 2002

  • "I should have clarified it by my statement. I just clarified it by my—not should have—I just."
    —Bush, trying to clarify a statement
    Source: FDCH Political Transcripts, "George W. Bush Holds Media Availability with Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi," Sept. 14, 2002

  • "We've got pockets of persistent poverty in our society, which I refuse to declare defeat—I mean, I refuse to allow them to continue on. And so one of the things that we're trying to do is to encourage a faith-based initiative to spread its wings all across America, to be able to capture this great compassionate spirit."
    Source: Federal News Service, "Remarks by President George W. Bush Re: Small Businesses Location," March 18, 2002

A Final Note

  • The second edition of the Oxford Dictionary of Phrase, Saying and Quotation recently recognized Bush's er ... contributions to the English language. Under the heading "Bushisms," the dictionary includes such Bush classics as, "We are ready for any unforseen event which may or may not happen."
    Source: The Associated Press, "Words of wisdom from Bush—and you can quote him on that," Nov. 18, 2002









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