EDITORIAL MONDAY 19.01.09.
It’s almost time to say farewell to the man described by some as the worst ever President of the United States. On Tuesday (or Wednesday Australian time) George W. Bush will leave office as Barack Obama is sworn in as the new President. While much of the world is focused on the idea of a new era of hope and optimism, despite the enormous difficulties which currently exist, some of us are wondering just what the late night comedy shows are going to do now. After eight years of endless entertainment there will be no more Bushisms. Or will there?
Like so many other people I have received emails with hundreds of quotes attributed to W. They are absolutely hilarious. How could someone be so incredibly stupid and yet be elected to the highest office of the United States, and some would say the most powerful office in the world? Forget for a moment that the 2000 election was actually decided in a courtroom instead of at the ballot box, and just think about the ramifications of having a President who said such things as “If we don’t succeed, we run the risk of failure.”
The only trouble is that he never actually said that. Neither did he say “I stand by all the misstatements that I’ve made.” Nor “We are ready for any unforeseen event that may or may not occur.” Although I have laughed along with everyone else at these so called “Bushisms”, a journalist friend of mine took it upon herself to look a little more deeply into the matter. It turns out that many of these quotes were originally spoken by none other that one time Vice President Dan Quayle. Many more were simply invented by humourists and comics as “Quaylisms”, which have somehow morphed into “Bushisms”.
To some extent that’s not so surprising, and public figures such as both Quale and Bush are fair game for comedy. But the truth is so much more bizarre than the myth. There is no need to invent Bushisms, because the man really has said so many genuinely ridiculous things. He really did say “They misunderestermated me”. He really did say “I’m sure you can imagine it is an unimaginable honour to be living here.” He really did say “You can’t take the high horse, and then claim the low road.” He really did say “It will take time to restore chaos.”
There are just as many real Bushisms as there are imaginary ones, but it seems that the legend has become bigger than the man. I would imagine that as time goes by, more and more strange phrases will be added to the Bush lexicon. It is such fertile ground that I see no reason for people to stop inventing new Bushisms for years to come. In fact there is every chance that in centuries to come history will remember Bush for his legacy of malapropisms long after it has forgotten about his failed foreign policies, and his utter abrogation of all the principles of democracy and justice for which the United States is supposed to stand.
That must be what Bush meant when he expressed his hope that history would judge him kindly.