Monday, October 06, 2008

The mush-mouthed among us

I used to think that George H. W. Bush stumbled over his words when he was lying. Somewhere not terribly deep inside him (because he was not terribly deep), he felt that what he was saying was wrong--and indecent. The structures of grammar and common morality, somehow intertwined, were fighting him at those moments. This was before I had plumbed the true evil of the Bush family, so I may rethink that theory. However, as many have already noted, Sarah Palin and W. also share the gift of garble. And they speak most clearly and forcefully when they are lying ("thanks but no thanks," etc.). So what's happening? Is it sheer stupidity, a lack of contact with sentence structure in general which one gets by, say, reading?

A few years ago someone (I can't remember who, unfortunately) observed that W. stumbled most commonly when speaking about caring for others ("Is our children learning?" "I know how hard it is to put food on your family"). These notions either brought up some kind of weird emotional blockage, or else were so foreign to him that he could not even use the language. As for Palin, I don't know for sure. But I think the issue is foreignness. Anything not directly related to Sarah and her quest for power is simply baffling. Other people? Other countries, opinions? Newspapers, you say, with, what did you call them? writers...? Does...not...compute....

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