It has long been our tradition at Seven Days, toward the end of summer, to pore over college catalogs and select the courses we’d take if we only had the time… and tuition. What we did take were liberties with the actual definitions of the course titles, and what fractious fun it was!
But these are times that call for acts of selfless patriotism, and so we have decided to turn our attention to the president. Yes, George W. Bush needs our help.
The leader of the decreasingly free world is no doubt an inspiration to countless immigrants, demonstrating as he does that one can become president of the United States without full mastery of the mother tongue — or even his own tongue. However, millions of us natives worked hard to achieve grammatical correctness throughout our school years. Therefore we think it only fair that the guy sitting in the Oval Office — and representing our country abroad — should be able to complete a sentence with the best of ’em. In fact, we think he should excel at Scrabble!
It did cross our minds that we could take Republican Prose at the University of Vermont in order to comprehend what Bush meant by comments like, “And so, in my State of the — my State of the Union — or state — my speech to the nation, whatever you want to call it, speech to the nation — I asked America to give 4000 years — 4000 hours over the next — the rest of your life — of service to America. That’s what I asked — 4000 hours.”
But then we thought, no, dammit! It’s time for tough love! Let’s send Dubya himself back to school for remedial English — and maybe a semester of Swallowing Disorders at UVM for good measure. The First Lady, an ardent advocate of literacy, would be an excellent tutor if she has not already thrown in the towel. At least she might slip some decent reading material onto hubby’s nightstand. The chief executive has already observed, “One of the great things about books is sometimes there are some fantastic pictures!”
Sadly, though, it is not just language that trips up our prez. In perusing the public record, we find that he could use refresher courses in a number of subjects. Therefore, we have created a curriculum that we hope will make him a brighter bulb and facilitate more creative solutions to problems such as forest fires, conscience-free CEOs and Saddam Hussein.
We’re confident that the president will study hard — in between vacations, anyway — because he stands so firmly behind education:
“The public education system in America is one of the most important foundations of our democracy. After all, it is where children from all over America learn to be responsible citizens, and learn to have the skills necessary to take advantage of our fantastic opportunistic society.”
Herewith, our recommendations, and the Bushspeak that inspired them.
Structure of the English Language (UVM)
• “You teach a child to read, and he or her will be able to pass a literacy test.”
• “Families is where our nation finds hope, where wings take dream.”
• “Will the highways on the Internet become more few?”
• “But the true threats to stability and peace are these nations that are not very transparent, that hide behind the… that don’t let people in to take a look and see what they’re up to. They’re very kind of authoritarian regimes. The true threat is whether or not one of these people decide, peak of anger, try to hold us hostage, ourselves; the Israelis, for example, to whom we’ll defend, offer our defenses; the South Koreans.”
Express Yourself (Middlebury College)
• “I’ve coined new words, like misunderstanding and Hispanically.”
• “I promise you I will listen to what has been said here, even though I wasn’t here.”
• “I know what I believe. I will continue to articulate what I believe and what I believe… I believe what I believe is right.”
• “The problem with the French is that they don’t have a word for entrepreneur.” (to British Prime Minister Tony Blair, discussing the decline of the French economy)
•“Neither in French nor in English nor in Mexican.” (declining to take reporters’ questions during a photo-op with Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien)
Economic Problems & Fundamentals of Mathematics (UVM)
• “We’ve tripled the amount of money… I believe it’s from $50 million up to $195 million available.”
• “My plan plays down an unprecedented amount of our national debt.”
• “It’s clearly a budget. It’s got a lot of numbers in it.”
• “We ought to make the pie higher.”
Memory — A User’s Guide (Middlebury)
& Global History Since 1500 (UVM)
•“My trip to Asia begins here in Japan for an important reason. It begins here because for a century and a half now, America and Japan have formed one of the great and enduring alliances of modern times. From that alliance has come an era of peace in the Pacific.” (a speech in Tokyo, in which Bush apparently forgot about a little skirmish called World War II)
• “A dictatorship would be a heck of a lot easier, there’s no question about it.”
Interpersonal Communication (Champlain College)
• “But I also made it clear [to Russian President Vladimir Putin] that it’s important to think beyond the old days of when we had the concept that if we blew each other up, the world would be safe.”
• “So on behalf of a well-oiled unit of people who came together to serve something greater than themselves, congratulations.” (to the University of Nebraska women’s volleyball team, 2001 national champions)
• “I’m gonna talk about the ideal world, Chris. I’ve read… I understand reality. If you’re asking me as the president, would I understand reality, I do.” (on MSNBC’s “Hardball”)
Power of Maps (Middlebury)
• “I understand that the unrest in the Middle East creates unrest throughout the region.”
• “I was raised in the West. The west of Texas. It’s pretty close to California. In more ways than Washington, D.C., is close to California.”
Problems in African History (Norwich University)
• “We spent a lot of time talking about Africa, as we should. Africa is a nation that suffers from incredible disease.”
Global Environmental Assessment (UVM)
•“Natural gas is hemispheric. I like to call it hemispheric in nature because it is a product that we can find in our neighborhoods.”
• “The California crunch really is the result of not enough power-generating plants and then not enough power to power the power of generating plants.”
• “I know the human being and fish can coexist peacefully.”
• “First, we would not accept a treaty that would have been ratified, nor a treaty that I thought made sense for the country.” (on the Kyoto Accord)
Leading Organizations Ethically and Competently (UVM)
• “There was no malfeasance involved. This was an honest disagreement about accounting procedures… There was no malfeasance, no attempt to hide anything.”
• “Well, I think if you say you’re going to do something and you don’t do it, that’s trustworthiness.” m
Resource for Bushisms: www.politicalhumor.about.com.