Jewish World Review Jan. 21, 2003 / 18 Shevat, 5763
http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | After querying linguists around the globe, yourDictionary.com recently released its Top 10 Words of 2002. Last year's No. 1 was invented by President Bush: "misunderestimated."
It's no secret that our president is linguistically challenged. He frequently has difficulty articulating what he means to say. And he frequently is mocked by folks who are eagerly awaiting his next slip.
But I have to admit our president has given us some beauties.
Last February in Japan, he said "devaluation" when he intended to say "deflation." That caused Japanese traders to make a bigger rush on the yen than they did when Godzilla came to town.
While speaking to a group of small business owners, Bush said, "I understand small business growth. I was one."
Sure, our president flubs up his words and syntax, but most Americans have not only come to accept his creativity, we've come to enjoy it.
Bush once promised American voters: "Not over my dead body will they raise your taxes. I'm a free trader. I will work to end terriers and barrifs everywhere across the world."
The president meant to say barrier and tariffs, of course. But we know what he meant. Besides, we aren't sure what he said was wrong anyhow. Terriers tend to be high-strung, whiney little animals; America would be better off without them. And "barrif" isn't a word, but should be. Barrif: "Balding middle-aged bureaucrat who impedes free trade."
As for trade, it is true that our president said "more and more of our imports are coming from overseas." So what? Has it occurred to Bush's critics that he is forced to state the obvious due to an education system that is in such a shambles?
"There's only one person who hugs the mothers and the widows, the wives and the kids, upon the death of their loved one," he said last December. "Others hug, but having committed the troops, I've got an additional responsibility to hug and that's me and I know what it's like."
OK, that's some pretty embarrassing language. But embarrassed is the way a man should respond to emotional stuff. I much prefer the Bush approach to that of his predecessor, a fellow who could turn on the touchy-feely faster than you can say Monica.
"Let me tell you my thoughts about tax relief," the president said in Boston last October. "When your economy is kind of ooching along, it's important to let people have more of their own money."
There is nothing to criticize here. Our economy is "ooching" and our people are "ouching," and I for one am grateful our president isn't hemming and hawing.
You see, where communicating with the American public is concerned, there are three major areas that concern us. There is what our president thinks, there is what he means, and there is how he says what he means.
Bush frequently stumbles with words - though his formal speeches tend to be remarkably compelling for such a "limited" man - but we know what he means and we usually know what he really thinks. Sure, it would be great if the chief representative of our country was also highly articulate, but in an imperfect world, two out of three isn't so bad.
I look at Bush the way my mother does. She says when you really stand back and look at what he's done - when you look at the number of wins he's accomplished, agree or disagree with his politics - you can only draw one conclusion: Bush sure is dumb. Dumb as a fox.
And if his opponents were smarter, they'd stop misunderestimating him.
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