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G. W. Bush: "D'you have blacks too?" (Der Spiegel) and other stories ;)|
03 June 2002 19:33 UTC
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OK people, I confess that at first, I was under the impression George W. Bush (a.k.a. Dubya) was not a tremendously bright man. But then i heard about his academic background, i was a bit more reassured... After all, he DOES hold a BA from Yale, and an MBA from Harvard Business School, two of the finest teaching institutions in the US of A. And suddenly, i get a couple of articles detailing his speech blunders. What is more, despite usually being compiled by blatantly biased people, the vast majority of the quotes CAN be traced to a recorded speech by the POTUS.
Which then leaves me wondering: are we to be extremely concerned that Bush is seriously overwhelmed with work and therefore if sinking lower and lower into stress-induced verbal dementia? Does he suffer from a rare and undocument form of aphasia? Or, equally grave, are we to worry that the often titled "most powerful man on the planet" is blatantly innarticulate, lacking in the most basic general knowledge, and sometimes just plain dumb? Or - and this is the most frightening hypothesis of all - that Yale and Harvard, once the proud torch-beares or higher learning in the US have come to such low standards as to award degrees to G. W. Bush?
What are the implications for the US and for the world at large of both these "minor [ and sometimes major] slips", and of "what lies beneath"?
While we ponder such questions, I offer some verbatim proof of my claims for all to muse, as well as some analysis of them by credible news sources. (No, i have not tracked down ALL of them to the original source, especially when it comes to the lose quotations. Should anyone care to do so, i would very much appreciate being notified if any of the quotes here presented is NOT accurate or plain false)
Apologies for any cross-posting occuring.
BUSH'S GENERAL EDUCATION
Do you have blacks in Brazil?
It is said, that, before September 11, George W. Bush thought the Taliban were a Bavarian brass band. Now, thanks to his comprehensive knowledge, the most powerful man in the world has got into hot water again.
Washington - It was Condoleezza Rice, national security advisor, who helped her boss out of the embarassing situation. During a conversation between the two presidents, George W. Bush, 55, (USA) and Fernando Henrique Cardoso, 71, (Brazil), Bush bewildered his colleague with the question "Do you have blacks, too?"
Rice, 47, noticing how astonished the Brazilian was, saved the day by telling Bush "Mr. President, Brazil probably has more blacks than the USA. Some say it's the Country with the most blacks outside Africa." Later, the Brazilian president Cardoso said: regarding Latin America, Bush was still in his "learning phase".
http://gwbush.com/copies/trans.html (Der Spiegel, 19/5/2001, translated)
Some of the latest by George W. Bush
Selected Quotes from DubyaSpeak ( http://www.dubyaspeak.com/ ) - Huge quotation database, including often repeated mistakes.
DUBYA: Decisive ally? Ally? Decisive ally? Of course, Jacques Chirac. I -- listen, thank you for the trick question. Let me talk about this ally. The phone rang the day after the attack -- the day of the attack. I can't remember exactly when, but it was immediately. And he said, "I'm your friend." On this continent, France takes the lead in helping to hunt down people who want to harm America and/or the French, or anybody else.
DUBYA: Very good. The guy memorizes four words, and he plays like he's intercontinental.
GREGORY: I can go on.
DUBYA: I'm impressed -- que bueno. Now I'm literate in two languages.
Selected Quotes from BushQuotations ( http://www.bushquotations.com/ )
"Should I be fortunate enough to earn your confidence, the mission of the United States military will be to be prepared and ready to fight and win war. And therefore prevent war from happening in the first place." - from the 3rd Presidential Debate, St. Louis, Missouri, Oct. 17, 2000.
"But as a result of evil, there's some amazing things that are taking place in America." - Daytona Beach, FL, January 30, 2002
"And so one of the areas where I think the average Russian will realize that the stereotypes of America have changed is that it's a spirit of cooperation, not one-upmanship, that we now understand one plus one can equal three, as opposed to us and Russia we hope to be zero." - Crawford, TX, Nov. 15, 2001
"I can assure you Mr. Chairman, or I wish would be Mr. Chairman - should be Mr. Chairman, and will be Mr. Chairman after next 2002." - At an Albuquerque fund raising event for Pete Domenici, August, 2001
''I know what I believe. I will continue to articulate what I believe and what I believe—I believe what I believe is right." - in Europe, July 22, 2001
"You saw the president yesterday. I thought he was very forward-leaning, as they say in diplomatic nuanced circles." - in Europe, July 23, 2001
"We spent a lot of time talking about Africa, as we should. Africa is a nation that suffers from incredible disease." - June 14, 2001, Press Conference
"I am mindful not only of preserving executive powers for myself, but for predecessors as well." - Jan. 29, 2001
"Redefining the role of the United States from enablers to keep the peace to enablers to keep the peace from peacekeepers is going to be an assignment." - New York Times, Jan. 14, 2001
"The California crunch really is the result of not enough power-generating plants and then not enough power to power the power of generating plants."- New York Times, Jan. 14, 2001
A callow cowboy stumbles (from the Financial Times)
By Gerard Baker
For a moment it looked as if Jacques Chirac had swallowed something unpleasant. The French president gazed uncomprehendingly at George W. Bush, his lips pursing and then opening in what looked like a Gallic gasp for air.
It was halfway into a press conference in the Elysée Palace on Sunday afternoon and Mr Bush had just stumbled his way through another answer, forgetting part of the question and joking at his own lack of focus. "That's what happens when you get past 55," he cracked.
Not only is Mr Chirac about to turn 70 but his advanced age was, for a while, a sensitive issue in the presidential election campaign just finished.
It was as though Mr Chirac had gone to Washington a few weeks after Mr Bush's inauguration and made flippant remarks about the unreliability of recounts and the role of patrimony in American presidential politics.
Mr Bush's insult was unintentional, of course, but it was not the only jaw-dropping moment in Sunday's performance by the travelling American president. Earlier Mr Bush had said he was looking forward to trying some French food, because "[Jacques] is always telling me the food here is fantastic", apparently indicating that he had not heard about the quality of French cuisine in his previous 54 years on the planet.
Later he got into a peevish exchange with an American reporter who had graciously asked Mr Chirac a question in French. "He memorises four words and plays like he's all intercontinental," Mr Bush sneered. Reporters shuffled their notebooks and looked at their feet, embarrassed by this spectacle of an American president jeering at a fellow American for speaking their host's language.
Mr Bush's clownish performance was attributed by some to fatigue. It was Day Five of his European trip and for the past three nights he had been up way past his normal bedtime of 9.30pm. But there had been other moments, earlier in the trip, when his comments and demeanour had been a little less than that normally expected of visiting schoolchildren, let alone heads of state.
On Day Two in Berlin, he had declared that he wanted to "securitise" dismantled Russian nuclear weapons. On Day Three in Moscow, he said retaining a strategic nuclear force was necessary at least in part for reasons of "quality control".
In St Petersburg, taken to see the magnificent art collection at the Hermitage Museum, the president had looked gloomily at his watch as the tour rolled on past 20 minutes. He seemed to perk up only when his guide stopped to talk about a portrait of a semi-naked Venus, causing Mr Bush to smirk as he tried to catch the eye of each of the reporters accompanying him.
The St Petersburg tour provided an intriguing contrast. When Vladimir Putin came to Texas, he was treated to a barbecue and a hoe-down on the ranch. In the old capital of the Romanovs, Mr Bush got the Hermitage and the ballet.
Since September 11, we have got used to seeing and appreciating the serious, inspiring side of Mr Bush's plain-spoken simplicity. His simple moral leadership and evident compassion and strength shoved aside snobbish doubts about whether he was up to the job. But this last week was a reversion to the troubling callowness of the campaign aeroplane.
It was hard not to see in the performance a barely concealed, swaggering Texan contempt for Europe and all its high-flown diplomatic niceties and high-brow cultural sensibilities. And it was revealing, perhaps above all else, for what it said about the strained relations between western Europe and the Bush administration.
For all the talk - justified talk - of substantive transatlantic differences over Iraq, the "axis of evil", the environment, trade, multilateralism and the global system, onlookers were reminded that a large part of the issue is Mr Bush himself.
Europeans - not just the elites but much of their populations - simply find Mr Bush irredeemably uncouth, a walking, talking version of every American cliché they love to hate. In cartoons, this figure plays any number of roles: the loudmouth at the restaurant, haranguing the waiter because his hamburger is insufficiently well done; the man who sits next to you on the transatlantic flight with endless stories about the size of his car, mispronouncing the names of European cities.
It is an easy step to make between the First Tourist displaying vast chasms of ignorance about the world beyond the Bible Belt and the unilateralist president pursuing American hegemony in ways that Europeans do not like.
Such attitudes, of course, betray the same sort of unsophisticated chauvinism on the part of Europeans as was on display at times from Mr Bush this last week. There are forces and arguments driving US foreign policy - many of them deserving of the sort of serious hearing they do not get in Europe. But those arguments have a hard time getting through to Europeans when it is Mr Bush who is putting them.
Europe's leaders may understand the difference - but with agitated electorates on the Old Continent expressing dissatisfaction with their own and American leadership, these popular caricatures transmit quickly through the media and opinion polls into policy constraints.
In the end, painful though it is to admit it, this is Europe's problem, rather than Mr Bush's. The American president is not going to become suddenly a model of cosmopolitan sophistication, putting an urbane case for US conservatism as he sashays, Kennedy-like, through the drawing rooms of Europe. Europeans are just going to have to get over it and display the kind of sang-froid Mr Chirac so admirably demonstrated last Sunday.
Bush's detailed knowledge of Geography (also from DubyaSpeak)
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