Cheat-Seeking Missles

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Talking Potomac, Talkin' Texas

Kathleen Parker ponders (at Real Clear Politics) what Joe Scarborough and his intellectual peers (Linda Ronstadt and the Dixie Chicks) ponder: Is GW not exactly an intellectual giant?

Having seen him in private, she has found him to be clear-tongued, clear-headed, and well educated on such a wide scale that he must be categorized as intellectually curious.

So why the bumbling? Why the malapropisms? Her theory: For GW, English is a second language:

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'' is 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.

She just might be on to something. I've travelled a lot in Texas over the years and am fairly familiar with the accent and the colorful aphorisms that are never far from any sentence spoken between El Paso and Texarkana. But if you put me in front of a room and told me to talk Texan ... well I'd make GW's Potomac English performances look like Oscar-winners!

Of course, even if GW were as gilded-tongued as Reagan or as casually commanding as Clinton, the Left would find something else to laugh about. "Look at that tie!" "Look how he walks!"

They cannot allow themselves to be inferior to the leader of the Free World, the most powerful man on Earth.

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