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Posted by on Aug 16, 2006 in At TMV | 12 comments

Debate Over “Is Bush An Idiot?”

You KNOW you’re in 21st century America where niceties are stripped away when you turn on cable TV talk shows. And, sure enough, Joe Scarborough (who seems to be one of the more independent talking head hosts on cable) actually began his show by asking in a segment “Is Bush An Idiot?”

The segment was quite interesting and can be viewed at HERE at Crooks & Liars which also contains this tidbit:

Scarborough probably had the most interesting observation when he brought up talked about old clips of when Bush was Governor of Texas and did not make anywhere near the number of mistakes that he does now and said it “seems like he is losing confidence by the day.”

Perhaps. But if the less-deferential vocabulary of our political debate has changed over the years, the tenor really hasn’t.

For one thing, throwing around the “i” word isn’t new and it’s not new in the way foes portray George Bush (of course, they would argue it’s the way he portrays himself).

Part of the reason why this segment came up is because of the fuss and skepticism about news reports that Bush was reading Camus. As our colleague Michael Stickings wrote yesterday:

According to Slate’s John Dickerson, President Bush read Camus’s novel The Stranger while on vacation this summer. According to Tony Snow, Bush “found it an interesting book and a quick read”: “I don’t want to go too deep into it, but we discussed the origins of existentialism.”

The subtext of stories is that (a)Yeah, right Bush reads Camu (b)Yeah, right how can Bush discuss “existentialism” when he can’t even pronounce “nuclear?” and (c)Bush (who did go to Yale which would not let a dunce in) is intellectually challenged.

Everyone has a theory so here’s ours:

Scene: Washington D.C. Library. In walks George Bush surrounded by Secret Service Agents.

BUSH: I’d like a book for my summer vacation.

LIBRARIAN: Who are you sir, surrounded by all of those people with earphones in their ears?

BUSH: Don’t you know me? I’m the most respected, trusted and powerful figure in America.

LIBRARIAN: You don’t look like Oprah.

BUSH: No. I’m the President of the United States. I’m George Bush. Listen, I’m in a rush. I have to give Hillary Clinton a back rub. What book do you recommend?

How about Camu?

BUSH: Oh! I love that whale! I saw him in a show at Sea World. I’ll take it!

And Slate and Snow took it from there…

It’s an event that sets up a punchline. A cheap shot punchline, sure. But it’s a punchline. It cries out for formulaic comedy.

In reality, all the talk about people being unfair to Bush and Republicans is so much piffle. If you go back in history you’ll see that many Presidents and politicos have been lampooned and lambasted as being more evil than they are, dumber than they are, more political than they are (although in those instances it’s usually understatement).

Comedians, satirists and opponents look for the slightest thing that they can exaggerate, blast or mock. All Presidents have faced this, although there probably were some too boring to lampoon (Millard Fillmore). It’s not treason, it’s not inappropriate — it is the American way.