Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

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Bush’s books

It turns out that President Bush reads books, and plenty of them (along with Rove). Of course, this could be a ploy, a kind of "gravitas campaign" to reveal to a sceptical MSM and academics (i.e., liberals) that the pres is a serious person. I talked with an academic (liberal, famous) recently who spent three hours with Bush (he was to be there for only one hour) talking about everything (including books). It turned out Bush did--according to the prof--about ninety percent of the gabbing! He was duly impressed (and surprised) by his intelligence and seriousness. Let’s see, Reagan didn’t read any books, or do any writing....so they said at the time. We now know different. Related, is this by Kathleen Parker.

Discussions - 9 Comments

So, assuming he enjoys reading as much as the article claims he does, why are his speaking skills so poor in public (especially when he began his first term)? Is he putting on a "common man", I-read-one-book-a-year-maybe act? Is he just not soaking up the vocabulary? This mystery seems far from solved . . . Hmmm . . .

Just read Parker’s piece. I think she’s probably right.

I wish he would read or reread Thucycidides.

Matt,

Being well-read automatically makes one a good public speaker? I’ve known more than a few people who had a hard time getting their noses out of books and some of those same people had a hard time stringing words together in a logical pattern when it came to speaking, publicly or not. I think those are separate skills that are only somewhat related.

I just read Parker’s piece, too. This would make sense if (a) all politicians who made it out of Texas into the bigger, English-speaking world were similarly inarticulate, and if (b) Bush had not had the benefit of four years of Ivy League exposure to correct syntax and sophisticated oratory.

But, I remember fondly Ann Richards, who could talk circles around Bush in her sleep. I also remember LBJ, who could utter complete sentences even while discussing tough subjects that the leader of the free world is forced to confront, at times!

I don’t know--people used to talk about Dwight Eisenhower the same way. Adlai Stevenson used to "talk circles" around Ike, too. It was only years later--when his private papers became available--that historians and political scientists figured out that it was all an act. Eisenhower intentionally spoke in what he himself called "gobbledygook." This served two purposes: 1) it encouraged his opponents, both domestically and internationally, to underestimate (misunderestimate?) him; 2) it was a useful way of dodging tough questions.

Funny thing about Ann Richards, she was a such good speaker that she firmly planted her foot in her mouth many times during the debates.

Clinton was a good public speaker, but so what? Part of the problem lies with his smooth talking. He talked a good game, but what did he accomplish with his endless, and, at many times, pointless speeches?

Well, aside from your arguments regarding the separation of intelligence from its manifestations, whether willful or random, I was suggesting that Parker’s argument is a bit precious.

Dale, you claim to be a Texan, right? Do you buy this "Texas English" vs "Washington English" version of the Ebonics argument? Know any other Texas politicians who are so dumbed down from their tour in Texas that they can’t be understood by others in Washington?

Dominick -



Good point. I stand corrected.

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