The Ribald Reign of King George the Second

Putting the Lie to Bushisms

Lately, there's been a lot of e-mail circulating around that criticizes George W. Bush. Read George the Second and it will be pretty clear that I don't like Bush myself: I think his policy ideas are wrongheaded and I don't think he's prepared to do the job.

That said, I'm disturbed at an e-mail I've received from three independent sources over the past month. If I got this message three times, chances are you've run into it too. "Quotes from George W." is a list of purported sayings of the Texas Governor. Each quote is attributed specifically in this chain mail to "Governor George W. Bush." The problem is, most of these quotes aren't actually from W. at all.

The record needs to be set straight. Below is the list of Bush "quotes" circulating on the Internet. I've checked each one out and noted the actual source of each. Read on!

"If we don't succeed, we run the risk of failure."
Attributed to George W. Bush, Jr.
Verdict: Spoken by Dan Quayle

"Republicans understand the importance of bondage between a mother and child."
Attributed to George W. Bush, Jr.
Verdict: Spoken by Dan Quayle

"The vast majority of our imports come from outside the country."
Attributed to George W. Bush, Jr.
Verdict: Accurate. It's close to the real quote, spoken in Beaverton, Oregon on 9/25/00: "more and more of our imports come from overseas.". Oddly, it is quite similar to Keppel Enderbery's notable quip that "traditionally, most of Australia's imports come from overseas."

"Welcome to Mrs. Bush, and my fellow astronauts."
Attributed to George W. Bush, Jr.
Verdict: Spoken by Dan Quayle

"Mars is essentially in the same orbit...Mars is somewhat the same distance from the Sun, which is very important. We have seen pictures where there are canals, we believe, and water. If there is water, that means there is oxygen. If oxygen, that means we can breathe."
Attributed to George W. Bush, Jr., 8/11/94
Verdict: Spoken by Dan Quayle

"The Holocaust was an obscene period in our nation's history. I mean in this century's history. But we all lived in this century. I didn't live in this century."
Attributed to George W. Bush, Jr., 9/15/95
Verdict: Spoken by Dan Quayle

"I believe we are on an irreversible trend toward more freedom and democracy - but that could change."
Attributed to George W. Bush, Jr., 5/22/98
Verdict: Spoken by Dan Quayle

"One word sums up probably the responsibility of any Governor, and that one word is 'to be prepared'."
Attributed to George W. Bush, Jr., 12/6/93
Verdict: Spoken by Dan Quayle

"Verbosity leads to unclear, inarticulate things."
Attributed to George W. Bush, Jr., 11/30/96
Verdict: Spoken by Dan Quayle

"I have made good judgments in the past. I have made good judgments in the future."
Attributed to George W. Bush, Jr.
Verdict: Spoken by Dan Quayle

"The future will be better tomorrow."
Attributed to George W. Bush, Jr.
Verdict: Spoken by Dan Quayle

"We're going to have the best educated American people in the world."
Attributed to George W. Bush, Jr., 9/21/97
Verdict: Spoken by Dan Quayle

"People that are really very weird can get into sensitive positions and have a tremendous impact on history."
Attributed to George W. Bush, Jr.
Verdict: Spoken by Dan Quayle

"I stand by all the misstatements that I've made."
Attributed to George W. Bush, Jr., 8/17/93
Verdict: Spoken by Dan Quayle

"We have a firm commitment to NATO, we are a part of NATO. We have a firm commitment to Europe. We are a part of Europe."
Attributed to George W. Bush, Jr.
Verdict: Spoken by Dan Quayle

"I am not part of the problem. I am a Republican"
Attributed to George W. Bush, Jr.
Verdict: Spoken by Dan Quayle

"A low voter turnout is an indication of fewer people going to the polls."
Attributed to George W. Bush, Jr.
Verdict: Spoken by Dan Quayle

"When I have been asked who caused the riots and the killing in LA, my answer has been direct & simple: Who is to blame for the riots? The rioters are to blame. Who is to blame for the killings? The killers are to blame."
Attributed to George W. Bush, Jr.
Verdict: Spoken by Dan Quayle

"Illegitimacy is something we should talk about in terms of not having it."
Attributed to George W. Bush, Jr., 5/20/96
Verdict: Spoken by Dan Quayle

"We are ready for any unforeseen event that may or may not occur."
Attributed to George W. Bush, Jr., 9/22/97
Verdict: Spoken by Dan Quayle

"For NASA, space is still a high priority."
Attributed to George W. Bush, Jr., 9/5/93
Verdict: Spoken by Dan Quayle

"Quite frankly, teachers are the only profession that teach our children."
Attributed to George W. Bush, Jr., 9/18/95
Verdict: Spoken by Dan Quayle

"We're all capable of mistakes, but I do not care to enlighten you on the mistakes we may or may not have made."
Attributed to George W. Bush, Jr.
Verdict: Spoken by Dan Quayle

"It isn't pollution that's harming the environment. It's the impurities in our air and water that are doing it."
Attributed to George W. Bush, Jr.
Verdict: Spoken by Dan Quayle

"[It's] time for the human race to enter the solar system."
Attributed to George W. Bush, Jr.
Verdict: Spoken by Dan Quayle

In other words, only one of the supposed George W. Bush quotes were ever actually said by W. himself. All the others are stale old Quayle quotes. Does some Gore supporter out there really think the American people have such a short memory that they won't recall this? Not only is this a low-down dirty trick, it's completely unnecessary. Dubya's said enough bizarre things of his own that Slate has compiled an ongoing list of actual Bushisms. Besides, what really is worrisome about Bush is his set of bizarre policy proposals. Debate should focus on those policies, and any dalliance with misstatements (especially when they're not really Bush's) is a pointless distraction.

Of course, it should be noted that Republicans are playing the same stupid game. Witness Free Republic, ParentsPlace, Rush Fans, and the Anti-Gore Coalition as they attribute these very same quotes to Al Gore. At least the Democratic hoax artist who started the "Bushisms" chain e-mail got the right party! I'm especially troubled to see that The Republican Party of Bay County, Florida has gotten in on the act, tossing these misquotes around in its newsletter to pump up anti-Gore fervor.

But this is no surprise: we all know the Republicans have always run a low-class operation. When conservative commentator Rush Limbaugh called 12-year-old Chelsea Clinton a dog on national radio, I wasn't surprised because he and his fellow Dittoheads never were a class act. When right-wing radio gadfly G. Gordon Liddy comes out with yet another offensively off-topic Hillary joke ("What's the new Hillary Special at KFC? Two small breasts, two large thighs and a couple of left wings."), I shrug it off because I know that he's got nothing better than innuendo to pin on New York's new Senator.

It's when I see tripe like that coming from the left that I'm profoundly disappointed. Whatever happened to principles, folks? Sure, let's attack Bush, but let's do it on the merits, not by inventing fictitious personal foibles. We all can do better than this.



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