October 14, 2003


George W. Bush is meant to be a moron with profound communication problems. But George Monbiot, of all people, paints a different picture. Observing Dubya address US troops, Monbiot describes a linguistic savant:

He quotes their mottoes and songs, retells their internal jokes, mimics their slang. He informs the "dog-faced soldiers" that they are "the rock of Marne", or asks naval cadets whether they gave "the left-handed salute to Tecumseh, the God of 2.0". The television audience is mystified, but the men love him for it. He is, or so his speeches suggest, one of them.

Bush is also a tactical mastermind, according to Monbiot:

He starts by leading them in chants of "Hoo-ah! Hoo-ah!", then plasters them with praise and reminds them that their pay, healthcare and housing (unlike those of any other workers in America) are being upgraded. After this, they will cheer everything he says. So he uses these occasions to attack his opponents and announce new and often controversial policies.

And so effective is this Bush tactic that Monbiot believes it amounts to “an abuse of his position as commander-in-chief”. The Left that once laughed at Bush’s words now fears them.

Posted by Tim Blair at October 14, 2003 07:24 PM

It's an abuse of his position as commander-in-chief to communicate effectively with his troops? Oookay.... whatever, Moonbat.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at October 14, 2003 at 08:23 PM

Hi! I've got no penis 'cos I'm a Spambot! [--altered by Admin]

Posted by: A stupid spammer at October 14, 2003 at 08:35 PM

Ha Ha Tim got spammed again.

Posted by: Scott Wickstein at October 14, 2003 at 08:56 PM

There is now a spam killing plugin available for Movable Type.

Posted by: EvilPundit at October 14, 2003 at 09:03 PM

George Bush is a master politician; he knows that VOTES count.
You, fellow poster on this site, may not like him---personally I do'nt like him-- but I do comprehend why he talks the way he does.

He does not talk to you or me here in Australia; he talks the language of the US voters.
SO, when you hear him speak, or read his words, be a little tolerant & do not interpret the words as being within the Australian context.

I spent 5 years in the USA.

Before leaving to take up the job, a fellow Aussie who was living there said on the 'phone "be sure to bring your gumboots--'cause your gonna be up to ya knees in bullshit".

Living there in the USA I came to understand a fundamental difference between Aussies & Yanks. I found that if I spoke/behaved in the Aussie manner I was rated as a nobody. Do it the way they do, "blow your own horn loudly" & you get respect--get listened to.
Understand George Bush in that context.

Cheers Gadfly

Posted by: Gadfly at October 14, 2003 at 09:13 PM

And there I was thinking that W was addressing the military in their own argot.

Thanks for clearing that up, Gadfly! "Militawy" actuwally is secwet code for "voters", for those of you who haven't the wit to purchase a pair of gumboots.

Posted by: Pod at October 14, 2003 at 09:47 PM

Those to whom personal risk on behalf of others is part and parcel to their profession always love a winner. That explains the profound enimity of the military for Bill Clinton, even though they received pay and housing increases under his administration, and why the only demonstrable attempt at disenfrancisement during the 2002 Florida hub-bub was military votes by the Democrats. People forget that it was Abraham Lincoln who gave the vote to active duty U.S. troops in order to defeat General G. McClellan running as a Democrat in 1864. The Army of the Potomac dearly loved "Little Mac" but he didn't have what it took be a winner.

Posted by: T. R. Saunders at October 14, 2003 at 10:08 PM

I spent 5 years in the USA.

And learned nothing, apparently.

Posted by: ilyka at October 14, 2003 at 10:12 PM

On the subject of George Monbiot, I leaned recently that his father is a vice-chairman of the British Conservative party. His mother is a Conservative county councillor. His parents must be thinking 'where did we go wrong....'

Posted by: Matthew at October 14, 2003 at 10:20 PM

Yeah, I'll be applying MT Blacklist tonight.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at October 14, 2003 at 10:24 PM

Horreur! Bush "attacks his opponents" and "announces new and controversial policies".

Is there no end to this depravity? I mean before Bush, NO politician ever attacked their opponents or announced new policies.

Sounds like one of those oh-so-serious dills in the Herald who attack Howard for using "wedge politics" - which are the same as normal politics!

Posted by: The Mongrel at October 14, 2003 at 10:40 PM

Re. Gadfly's post:

I'm a Yank who would like to tell you Aussies on this board that Gadfly is full of crap. If he is an Aussie (which I doubt), and he ever visited the States (which I doubt), he was not treated the way he describes (which I guarantee).

Yanks love Aussies. We admire your independent streak and your humor, and we appreciate your friendship. Some of this is probably misplaced; i.e., we tend to base our perception of Aussies on Crocodile Dundee, The Thorn Birds, and A Town Like Alice (sorry...).

Some of it, however, is not misplaced. My father served with Diggers in the Pacific Theater in WWII. He was an infantryman with the 11th Airborne Division. He said the Aussie troops were the bravest and finest he ever met.

As for me, I served under an Aussie captain, Captain MacDonald, at a training post (Ft. Lee). He was a terrific officer.

I work with Aussies in my legal practice. They are warm, smart, and funny. It is a pleasure to practice with them.

We had an Aussie woman and her Yank husband move into our community a couple of years ago. We could not have done more to make her feel welcome. Her words, not mine.

So anybody like Gadfly out there, who thinks Yanks rank Aussies as "nobodies": C'mon over here, let us shout you a few pints, do some business with us, and see for yourself how full of crap he is. My words, not his.

Posted by: RJGator at October 14, 2003 at 10:54 PM

Yeah I'm an Aussie and Gadfly sounds like he's full of crap to me too but you dont shout us a pint; thats a pommie measurement- you can shout me a schooner though.

Posted by: Marko at October 14, 2003 at 11:28 PM

George W Bush is obviously laying the groundwork for the military dicatatorship he's planning for just prior to the next presidential election, where he would otherwise be driven from office like a diseased troll by the upwelling of rightous anger over Iraq and the groudswell of support for the Jean d'Arc of the 21st Century, Hillary Rodham Clinton.

(Copyright Kingston.M, Adams.P, Pilger.J, Moore.M, Ali,T and anyone else I neglected to mention).

Posted by: Habib at October 14, 2003 at 11:30 PM

RJGator, i have to disagree with you about your statement, and please listen for a minute before you dismiss my words. Gadfly said...

"I found that if I spoke/behaved in the Aussie manner I was rated as a nobody."

he did not say that we, as Americans, rate the Aussies as nobodies. he said that we simply assume that if you don't toot your own horn, you aren't really all that good.

Beppe Severgnini, in his book, "Ciao America! An Italian Discovers the U.S." pointed out that in the US one has to brag about himself to be considered worthwhile, while in England, one has to apologize for himself. it is reasonable to assume that Australia is also not so big on self promotion as the US. Beppe says that he knows of Italians who came to America who adopted the USA mode of speaking and were soon running around like Mohammed Ali saying "I a the greatest!" and had to spend time in decompression when they left to go home.

Gadfly merely suggests that Aussies remember that in the USA, what would be taken as a disgusting level of arrogant self promotion at home is considered normal in America.

As for the fool on the Guardian, I was in the Military during the Clinton years and i will tell you what we hated about him. Clinton believed that we were attack dogs to be loosed whenever he saw any political advantage in it. he hated us as people. to him we were just tools for his own advancement. GWB at least appears to care about the military as people. this is why they will more readily follow him. we always knew after Somalia that Clinton would cut and run, leaving the dead behind unavenged as soon as things got out of hand. GWB would appear to believe that we should leave no man behind.

"The troops may not have the faintest idea what he's talking about, but they cheer him to the rafters anyway."

read: Soldiers are Stooopid!

Posted by: sean at October 14, 2003 at 11:51 PM

Bush's other big problem, which has quietly tracked him ever since he declared his candidacy, is that he is a draft-dodger who failed even to discharge his duties as a national guardsman, while some of his most prominent political opponents are war heroes and generals.

Given the *two terms* served by the previous US president, one has to wonder how in God's name this is a *problem*.

Posted by: Tongue Boy at October 15, 2003 at 12:02 AM

"..you find that the US federal government is now spending as much on war as it is on education, public health, housing, employment, pensions, food aid and welfare put together."
Just a couple of things to consider Mr. Monbiot.
Nice anecdote, but no basis in fact. The US federal government is required by the Constitution of the US to provide for the defense of the country, not "war". It is NOT the responsibility of the federal government to provide education (local school districts, cities, etc. provide that) employment (private companies), pensions (private companies and individuals-unless you count the Ponzi-schemed Social Security program) food aid (state and local entities), welfare (see previous). There are some in the US who desire to see entitlements provided by the Federal Government in every walk of life, but their object is control, not passion.
Best regards,
Bob Carter/Houston, Texas

Posted by: BC at October 15, 2003 at 12:31 AM

Moonbat says:

But this commander-in-chief goes far beyond the patriotic blandishments of previous leaders. He sometimes dresses up in the uniform of the troops he is meeting.

"Sometimes" really means "one time" and that was a flight suit - something all civilians wear when taking a ride in a fighter jet.

If you tune into the local news the next time the Blue Angels come to town, you're likely to see local newsreader Polyanna Goodbody hurling up her breakfast omelet from the backseat of one of the F-18s while wearing a jumpsuit that looks similar to the one worn by the Blue Angel pilot.

Posted by: Randal Robinson at October 15, 2003 at 01:19 AM

Gadfly says:

"George Bush is a master politician; he knows that VOTES count."

Wow, he really is a master politician if he knows that VOTES count. Who would have guessed? If the Democrats ever acquire Bush's masterful understanding of the importance of votes they might actually win an election.

Posted by: Randal Robinson at October 15, 2003 at 01:37 AM

"..you find that the US federal government is now spending as much on war as it is on education, public health, housing, employment, pensions, food aid and welfare put together."

Even ignoring the obvious misleading comparison, since most of these items are paid for by state and local governments instead of Federal, it is still incorrect. For FY 2003, the Defense Dept budget is about 380 billion. Health and Human Services was 480 billion. Education (federal) was 50 billion, Housing & Urban Development was about 35 billion and Veterans Affairs was 50 billion. Agriculture was 70 billion and this includes food stamps as well as subsidies. So he was only off by 300 billion or so.

Posted by: KenG at October 15, 2003 at 02:13 AM

I read an article recently about equivalent US military spending on the War on Terror versus military spending on World War II. To reach the equivalent WWII-dollars spending and mobilization levels we'd have four million men in uniform and be spending quite a bit more than $380 billion per year.

We are in a war after all, the most dangerous situation for us since 1941, although Moonbats like George don't like to admit it.

Posted by: Irene A. at October 15, 2003 at 02:35 AM

Speaking of Moonbat George, Samizdata has a piece from the Guardian saying that the Moonbat is forming his own political party.


Posted by: Irena A. at October 15, 2003 at 02:38 AM

I dunno, Gadfly might have done his five years in San Francisco. If you don't constantly regurgitate leftist propaganda, you get frozen out by practically everyone.

If you can just get a few miles off the West Coast and into the Rockies, you'll meet plenty of down-to-earth heartlanders.

Posted by: Tatterdemalian at October 15, 2003 at 02:59 AM

Curse you Tatterdemalian! You beat me to it!

Posted by: Pixy Misa at October 15, 2003 at 05:03 AM

Off topic but...

Can the Aussies explain to me why many feel the need to bash Fosters in favor of Victoria Bitter. Although Fosters is the mass market beer, and the one the foreigners probably always order, its a damn fine lager and doesn't deserve the villification I witnessed in Melbourne.

Posted by: Yank at October 15, 2003 at 09:22 AM

That article is so *pathetic* it's hardly worth measuring. And the astounding ignorance of the American political system (Listen up, asshole: in the US, the Federal government is not responsible for either housing or education. You may want to do some basic research before criticizing something in ignorance and revealing your complete lack of substance on the topic) is beyond words.

Posted by: KevinV at October 15, 2003 at 09:47 AM

As one who teaches Am Govt, sometimes to international undergrads, I find that most non-Americans can grasp the basics of a federal system with divided government as a structural concept but have great difficulty grasping the actual activities as they occur, since where any action will occur is at least slightly unpredictable (i.e. Grodzins and the "marble cake" theory of federalism). Just last night, as we were discussing policy formulation and adoption at the local level, a Jordanian student who has lived and worked in the US for the past five years asked, "But, who *controls* all this activity?" My only answer was that it is to the benefit of almost all the players to control their own behaviors, but that in practice it is all but impossible to say that anyone actually *controls* what is going on (outside of constitutional issues). He's probably still talking to himself. Mind, he's a very good student who has a fine command of American English and some useful experience in the business world, and he's still mystified.

Posted by: JorgXMcKie at October 15, 2003 at 10:51 AM

'Vic' is the sentimental favourite while Fosters is seen to be a little sweet. But the Tasmanian beer Cascade is something else again. It is said the cleanest water on earth is used to make it. They grow their own hops, etc. This sounds like hype, but it is a really great beer. Look for the (extinct) Tasmanian Tiger on the label.

Posted by: ilibcc at October 15, 2003 at 11:13 AM

Re Gadfly's post:

Based on my 5 years worth of experience in the US... Don't take offense at what Gadfly says, you just need to understand that he is an Australian and speaking as an Australian. I don't believe that talking truthfully about your own ability amounts to "bullshit", but many Aussies do.

If you want to be taken seriously in America, I found that you have to stop making jokes at your own expense. Although this will get you liked in Australia, Americans are apt to take you literally. In general, they take most things literally, and after I got used to it I appreciated their direct approach.

Posted by: taspundit at October 15, 2003 at 11:14 AM

As an first generation American who grew up with half a family with more British sensibilities, I, too, found out that the self-depreciating humor bit doesn't work in American culture.

Posted by: KevinV at October 15, 2003 at 11:22 AM

This is probably the reason foreigners are always calling Americans "arrogant" -- what we think of as "plain speech" and "telling the truth" (about our own abilities or anything) is seen by non-Americans as "bragging" or "being rude." It is simply anathema to many other cultures to place the kind of trust that Americans do in the ability of the individual to do anything whatsoever without the controlling hand of some sort of authority ready to crack the whip at the slightest deviation. They call it "culture" and "history" -- I call it "habit" and "post-traumatic stress syndrome."

As for Australians, I think that Australia, Canada, and other ex-British colonies who never violently broke off from the "Old Country" like the US did are still heavily influenced by British cultural attitudes, including that inclination to downplay one's own abiities, etc.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at October 15, 2003 at 01:39 PM

George W Bush is obviously laying the groundwork for the perfect world he's planning sometime prior to the next presidential election, where he would otherwise be exhalted as a God amongst mere men by the upwelling of rightous(sic) joy over Iraq and the groudswell(sic) of support for the Jean d'Arc of the 21st Century, Anne Coulter.

(Copyright Habib the Funny Astrologer).

Posted by: Sincerity Slips at October 15, 2003 at 02:08 PM

I, too, found out that the self-depreciating humor bit doesn't work in American culture.

Not quite true. There is a place for self deprecating humour. The (relatively) powerful, if they want to relate well to subordinates, will use self deprecating humour. Also, the extremely skilled/proficient/able will use it when doing something outside thier own field. (i.e. an athlete working as an actor, or an actor participating in an athletic contest.)

If you use self deprecating humour in the wrong situation, people think you are odd. If you use it in the right place, people think you are 'a regular guy", one of them, etc.

Posted by: Gary Utter at October 15, 2003 at 07:12 PM

OT (slightly, I guess)....
TR Saunders...paraphrasing...Lincoln gave the soldiers the vote (sic) so that they would vote against McPherson, who they loved....hmmmm? Don't get the logic here...

I think Lincoln's victory in 1864 was more a function of Northern sucesses (Sherman-Atlanta) than any other thing....
(OK..completely OT)

Posted by: James Garrett at October 15, 2003 at 10:27 PM

Rodney Dangerfield (an American I beleave) made a career out of self-deprecating humor. I guess the key is to ensure the listeners get the joke, otherwise you just seem to be bashing yourself, not making a joke.

Posted by: ruprecht at October 16, 2003 at 12:10 AM

President Bush often uses self-deprecating humor, as when he joked at Yale about how a C student can grow up to be president. (This enraged former A students who did not grow up to be president.) The movie made about his campaign -- by the daughter of a leading Democrat -- shows numerous examples of Bush's ability to make fun of himself. He doesn't joke about the power of the U.S., however.

By the way, Americans do not think of Aussies as humble, quiet folks. We think you're loud and proud, and we like you for it.

Posted by: Joanne Jacobs at October 16, 2003 at 05:31 AM

This guy cited the World Socialist Web Site as a source on the US budget. Does he really expect me to take him seriously?

Posted by: rosignol at October 16, 2003 at 09:57 AM