Friday, September 12, 2008



This morning’s Wall Street Journal contained the following April, 2004 quote from President Bush. The “sic”s, inevitable in any Bush speech, were added by me.

“I proposed (sic) that mortgages that have FHA-backed insurance pay (sic) no down payment….What we’re trying to do is make it easier for somebody (sic) to own a home, and there’s (sic) practical ways the government can help.”

Wow! This quote is perfect for two (often intersecting, despite the best efforts of Republicans to tar anyone who opposes Mr. Bush as some sort of true believing, quiche eating, brie nibbling, white wine sipping elitist liberal or terrorist sympathizer, synonymous terms in the enduring GOP playbook) groups of people:

1. Those who are, er, not fans of Mr. Bush and who do not believe that the “R” after his name somehow exonerates him from any criticism. Perhaps this constitutes one and a half groups.

2. Those who believe that the government in most cases cannot help solve problems and, in its attempts to do so, usually exacerbates them.

The first group is fond of arguing that the economy is just fine due to Mr. Bush’s wise stewardship or, somehow failing in that argument, to say that Mr. Bush had nothing to do with the economy’s current travails. They will blame the Democratic congress, Bill Clinton (of course), or, more plausibly, economic events beyond the control of the politicians. While I like the third argument, the above quote is ample evidence that Bush’s “a house for every man and every man for a house” policies did plenty to help dunk us in the economic brine in which we are now swimming.

The second group is nearly reflexively opposed to government action, especially on the economy, arguing that it is futile at best, most likely counterproductive, and disastrous at worst. That efforts by Mr. Bush to act on his 2004 argument that “there’s (sic) practical ways that government can help” foster homeownership have had debilitating consequences, perhaps especially for those they were ostensibly designed to help, is beyond argument.

One more thing needs to be written concerning the “sic”s that become mandatory whenever the president opens his mouth. Perhaps we can get an answer to this question before the President leaves office: Is Mr. Bush’s generous use of malapropisms part of the good old boy shtick of this graduate of Andover, Yale, and Harvard or is he really that clumsy in his use of the English language? If the latter is the case, what can be done to improve the rigor of the English curriculum at the aforementioned schools?

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