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Comments on: Bushisms fewer than expected?





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By: So, farewell Bushisms « prescriptivist’s blog

Sat, 28 Feb 2009 10:49:41 +0000

[...] Liberman at Language Log suggested that Bush didn’t make any more mistakes than anyone else (Bushisms fewer than expected?), saying that most criticisms of Bush’s speech are a result of one or more of the [...]



By: Jordan DeLange

Sat, 15 Nov 2008 19:54:11 +0000

@ Alan Gunn IIRC, Bush committed a pretty significant verbal blunder where he appeared to depart from the normal american attitude of "strategic ambiguity" towards Taiwan way back in April 2001, before admitting that, in fact, he supported a One China policy and his comments about committing US troops to a defense of Taiwan didn't really amount to a change of position from administrations stretching back to Nixon, as they had certainly appeared to.



By: Mark Liberman

Fri, 14 Nov 2008 01:28:52 +0000

President George W. Bush himself has recently discussed this issue: "Bush: 'I regret saying some things I shouldn't have said' ".



By: Morten Jonsson

Thu, 13 Nov 2008 19:58:29 +0000

Because no one is actually treating it as a syllogism. People see his mistakes not as proof that Bush is stupid, but as evidence, things characteristic of the stupid person they already consider him to be. Maybe that's unfair, but it's something we all do--how we react to what a given person says always depends, to some degree, on what we think of that person. It's healthy to test our preconceptions, of course, and I'm glad to learn that Bush doesn't actually misspeak any more often than most public figures. He's still a buffoon in my book, but that's nothing to do with his grammar.



By: Chris

Thu, 13 Nov 2008 14:38:46 +0000

There are, of course, many non-linguistic reasons to believe in Bush's stupidity; but the interesting thing (IMO) about the phenomenon Randy points to is: why do people accept, or seem to accept, invalid arguments just because they already believe the conclusion is true? True conclusions don't make the argument valid: All fish live in water. Sharks live in water. Therefore, sharks are fish. Sharks *are* fish, but this argument is still invalid. But why is it harder to recognize the problem with: Stupid people make mistakes when they talk. George W. Bush makes mistakes when he talks. Therefore, George W. Bush is a stupid person. Even if you have independent reasons to believe Bush is a stupid person, this syllogism is still just as invalid as the one about the sharks (in fact, I think it's the exact same logical fallacy).



By: Randy

Thu, 13 Nov 2008 00:40:01 +0000

Please oh please, would you point us toward some linguistic research that would allow us to show irrefutably that George Bush is stupid because of the way he talks. That would make so many people so very happy. If your research isn't doing that, you must be doing the wrong research. --- A few transcripts of Hillary Clinton's public speaking engagements have been posted here now and then. When I read them, it makes her look like a moron. I'm pretty sure she's not. Trying to decide someone's intelligence on the basis of their public speaking abilities is a petty, superficial game. It seems that whenever someone on this blog tries to inject some sense into the matter, a whole crowd of people chime in trying to work around the evidence so that their original conclusions about Bush's supposed stupidity remain intact, even though the original path to those conclusions has been broken. It's just as intellectually dishonest, or at least sloppy, as Hinderaker's own claims.



By: Sili

Wed, 12 Nov 2008 19:04:37 +0000

In this context I guess it's easier to understand why Kaczynski felt the need to tell off MP Artur Gorski for calling Obama a "black crypto-communist", whose election "marks the end of the white man's civilisation" and "makes al-Qaeda rejoice". Of course his statements were "political, not racist" ... Talk about 'gaffes'!



By: Chris

Wed, 12 Nov 2008 14:20:27 +0000

Hinderaker doesn't seem concerned with the empirical facts of what Obama said
This is, shall we say, consistent with his overall patterns of behavior. Barring the presence of a recording device, when two people come out of a conversation with different accounts of what was said, it's generally impossible to be sure whether there is a misunderstanding at all (as opposed to deliberate after-the-fact lying), let alone who is responsible for it. Hinderaker characteristically ignores such complications and boldly chooses the interpretation he likes best - since nobody has the evidence to decisively refute it, all he has to do is say it loud and often and some people will believe it.



By: outeast

Wed, 12 Nov 2008 08:39:26 +0000

On the specific subject of the missile defence shield, speaking as someone 'on the ground' (as it were) I can say that the local politicians (in Poland and CZ) are all boldly asserting whatever they *want* to be the truth about the future of the shield plans. It's a real political football here - very, very controversial, with numerous (if generally quite small) public demonstrations both for and against etc. All I'm saying is that Kaczynski may well have been guilty (either intentionally or un-) of creatively misunderstanding whatever Obama said.



By: mollymooly

Wed, 12 Nov 2008 00:40:44 +0000

The worst "misinterpretable sound bite" I can recall from Bush was his early description of the War on Terror as a "Crusade". In fairness I think he only said it once before his handlers advised him not to.



By: Barry Nordin

Tue, 11 Nov 2008 23:52:59 +0000

I have to assume all these error-free speeches are being read off teleprompters. I've noticed that when he speaks best, his head is down with his eyes on a document. Off-the-cuff, he is an idiot as anyone who ever watched his press conferences or replays on David Letterman can attest.



By: Forrest

Tue, 11 Nov 2008 22:57:07 +0000

Hinderaker is right; "they misunderestimated me" is an example of witnessing the birth of a new word, rather than a simple 'verbiage' gap! Along these lines, when Bush referred to the 'Taiwanian' people, he was ushering in a new era of political correctness and fighting back the tide of derogatory suffixes, like -ese ... as covered on Language Log.



By: Moe

Tue, 11 Nov 2008 22:49:19 +0000

In a related note, the media is reporting that we'll change from Bushisms to "Rhambonics" with the new administration: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1108/15510.html