Jeb Bush says he wants a return to his brother’s dumbed-down, go-with-hunches administration. Because, you know, Obama uses big words. This is a strange complaint to utter and the timing could not be worse, as last night his biggest contender, Donald Trump, called him stupid.
Let’s face it: his brother was not known for being an intellectual. George W. Bush could barely speak intelligible English. Almost as if it was a second language. It was bad. Very bad. Great hilarity ensued.
Jeb is somewhat better spoken, but the difference is a matter of degrees, and it is more than language. Jeb, after all, has already said the guy who brought America to ruin is his biggest adviser. Jeb might want to be more conscious of his family legacy when he complains about Obama’s big words.
His brother’s malapropisms and other inexplicable lapses have entered the English language as the “Bushism.” There were some doozies:
They misunderestimated me.” [Bentonville, Arkansas; November 6, 2000]
“There’s an old saying in Tennessee—I know it’s in Texas, probably in Tennessee—that says, ‘Fool me once, shame on…shame on you. Fool me — you can’t get fooled again.'” [Nashville, Tennessee; September 17, 2002]
“Rarely is the question asked: Is our children learning?” [Florence, South Carolina; January 11, 2000]
The answer to the last ought to be self-evident. After all, as Dubya said on Feb. 21, 2001, in Townsend, TN, “You teach a child to read, and he or her will be able to pass a literacy test.”
Unless his name is Bush.
Which brings us to Jeb.
In an interview published by the Union Leader, Jeb complained that Obama’s big words harsh his buzz:
You don’t have to be the world’s policemen, but you have to be the world’s leader and there’s a huge difference. This guy — this president and Secretary Clinton and Secretary Kerry – when someone disagrees with their nuanced approach where it’s all kind of so sophisticated it makes no sense. You know what I’m saying?
Big syllable words and lots of fancy conferences and meetings and – We’re not leading. That creates chaos. It creates a more dangerous world. So restoring the alliances that have kept the world safer and our country safer – getting back to a position in the Middle East where there’s no light between Israel and the United States.
Yes. The world is certainly not a more dangerous place as a result of his brother’s inattention to detail when he destroyed a stable Iraq and replaced it with civil war and the new Assyrian Empire of the Islamic State. George W. Bush established a surveillance state, condoned torture, America’s reputation fell with its credit rating.
I think most of us understand the president, Jeb. We shouldn’t have to dumb down the discourse so you can follow along. Maybe we can produce some coloring books for you?
After all, it was your brother who said, “One of the great things about books is sometimes there are some fantastic pictures.” [Jan. 3, 2000]
It is obvious that events have proven the world is too complex for the Bush kids. They cannot understand it, they cannot articulate it – heck, they can’t even articulate the degree to which they can’t articulate it.
I would suggest Jeb Bush learn some big syllable words – what the rest of us call polysyllabic words – or he could just tell America what his brother told Brian Williams during a 2006 interview: “Look, the key for me is to keep expectations low.”
With Donald Trump no longer barking at his heels but loping alongside him, and calling his intelligence into question, Jeb couldn’t have chosen a worse time to complain about his inability to understand big words.
(You can watch the full no-complete sentence or finished thought interview at C-SPAN here. Warning: it’s painful.)