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Bush’s verbal gaffes are no longer a laughing matter

Intervention Magazine | August 12 2004

At a bill signing ceremony in the White House on August 5, George Bush pulled off his latest verbal gaffe. Captured on film and shown worldwide, as well as on Jay Leno, Bush remarked with his patented smirk, "Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we."

The same day I read this, I had just finished an article by Charley Reese, Vote for a Man, Not a Puppet, written in May. Reese, a staunch conservative and formerly a columnist with the Orlando Sentinel, writes, “It’s no wonder the president avoids press conferences like the plague. Take away his cue cards and he can barely talk. Americans should be embarrassed that an Arab king (Abdullah of Jordan) spoke more fluently and articulately in English than our own president at their joint press conference recently.”

Jay Leno joked recently that hearing Bill Clinton during the Democratic convention “made you nostalgic for a time when presidents could speak.”

Last April, the Los Angeles Times published a letter from a 73 year-old woman, Phyllis Lilly, of Ridgecrest, California. No one could have captured any better the essence of our hapless president than Ms. Lilly when she wrote, “I watched President Bush’s April 13 press conference. In my 73 years, I have never seen or heard such stumbling, bumbling ignorance by an American president. He never fully answered one question and deliberately rambled on in order to kill time and answer fewer questions. This illiterate man is an embarrassment to our country.”

And mind you, these are not the words of one of those “pointy-headed liberal intellectual elites.”

But the sheer frightfulness of George Bush isn’t just found in his language. Consider one very alarming example. Nearly everyone has now seen, or heard of, the scene from Fahrenheit 9/11 where George Bush sits passively and glazed for seven minutes in a Florida school room after he has been informed of a second hijacked plane hitting the Twin Towers. The words spoken to him were, “We are under attack, Mr. President.” As one movie reviewer remarked, this scene is almost surreal; it has to be seen to be believed.

The 9/11 Commission Report tells us that during those dreadful minutes, Vice President Cheney was, in effect, calling the command shots from Washington. But Cheney lacked good information and was understandably bewildered and confused. Nevertheless, he at least was trying to do something to protect America, while the president flew around in Air Force One wondering where to land and what to do.

Consider our nuclear weapons system, which is designed so that the president always has the nuclear code with him in the form of the so-called “football,” handcuffed to a military officer so that the president can react to a nuclear threat within minutes, perhaps even seconds. But after Bush’s performance on September 11, 2001, perhaps it would be better to have the football travel with Dick Cheney, or perhaps the Deputy Secretary of Agriculture--anyone but George Bush!

So, who are these people who still support George Bush for four more years of dis-service to this country? Do they believe that stupidity pays some dividend in the end? Are they so frightened of the Democrats that they prefer a virtual moron as president--a man who has his finger on the nuclear trigger and who has already demonstrated that war is not his “last option”? Do they concede that Bush really is stupid but otherwise just a harmless dupe or puppet who will be held in check by Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and the Republican forces in Congress--and so, is still better than any Democrat, who as we all know will raise our taxes, take away our guns, release all the felons from prison, give abortion on demand, promote pornography, … ?

Millions of American voters are in some form of deep denial due largely to fear growing out of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. America the brave has become America the afraid, and it seeks comfort in the known and familiar, just as the abused wife futilely seeks comfort in her abuser.

And make no mistake, Bush and his cohorts have orchestrated this perfectly for political purposes, from the nonspecific terrorist alerts, which have become the butts of comedians’ jokes, to the pressure being put on Pakistan President Musharraf by the Bush administration to capture “high-value targets before the November elections,” as reported by The New Republic. One such HVT captured was Ahmed Ghailani, an Al Qaeda operative wanted in connection with the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. TNR reports that although Ghailani was captured on July 25, announcement of his capture by Pakistan’s interior minister took place on local television about five hours before John Kerry gave his acceptance speech in Boston on July 29. The announcement was at midnight Pakistani time. Is there is any doubt that it was intended for American audiences?

Bush is now furiously playing catch-up as he loses ground on this one last issue of combating terrorism that Americans still give him some credit for. And, as Bob Herbert writes in the New York Times, “The nation seems paralyzed, unsure of what to do about Iraq or terrorism…. Nobody seems to know where we go from here.”

Like one giant ball of loosely wound string, the myth of the warrior-hero is unraveling.