Um... not counting that whole WW2 thing.
February 21, 2002 7:23 PM   Subscribe

Um... not counting that whole WW2 thing. February 18, 2002 -- President Bush, in a speech in Japan. "My trip to Asia begins here in Japan for an important reason. It begins here because for a century and a half now, America and Japan have formed one of the great and enduring alliances of modern times. From that alliance has come an era of peace in the Pacific." Of course, the Official White House transcript corrects the blunder.
posted by crunchland (61 comments total)
 
Kinda puts the whole mocking of Gore about "inventing the Internet" is a different light, doesn't it? You'd think, even if his speech writers wrote that error, he'd have caught it, considering his father supposedly fought and was shot down in the Pacific and all.
posted by crunchland at 7:27 PM on February 21, 2002


Ergh. I'm not a fan of Bush's policies or politics, and public speaking is central to my line of work - and I still could easily make an error like saying "a century and a half" rather than "half a century."

I don't see any evidence that what was said was said out of ignorance. And I don't think invented controversies are all that useful. The party faithful will ignore them, the rabid anti-Bush people will slaver over them, and in the end no opinions will have been changed.
posted by Chanther at 7:29 PM on February 21, 2002


I don't like W. I think he's a buffoon. That said, I have to wonder how many times a day each of us mis-speaks and doesn't catch it.

This is non-news.
posted by donpardo at 7:32 PM on February 21, 2002


Judge for yourself. There wasn't even a pause, a stammer, or anything.
posted by crunchland at 7:32 PM on February 21, 2002


One other thing: that official White House transcript? It's the text of the speech as it was originally written, not a cover-up.
posted by donpardo at 7:34 PM on February 21, 2002


That said, I have to wonder how many times a day each of us mis-speaks and doesn't catch it.

Yes, but how many of us are the President of the United States and the (so called) leader of the free world. This buffoon mispeaks himself constantly, in public, and remains unashamed that he looks the fool. To every one of us who want him GONE in 2004, this is definately news.
posted by Wulfgar! at 7:38 PM on February 21, 2002


"It begins here because for a century and a half now, America and Japan have formed one of the great and enduring alliances of modern times."

Yeah, except for that daggone little incident in the 40's, it's been all peaches 'n cream.

This is another example of the GWB Public Speaking Trade-Off, as I like to call it. You either choose to suffer through his torturous attempts at reading from a teleprompter, or you let him speak quasi-extemporaneously, embarrassing the U.S. internationally. At least the second option is more humorous.
posted by insomnyuk at 7:39 PM on February 21, 2002


I find it very hard to believe that the leader of arguably the most powerful nation on earth would make such an obvious blunder.
posted by hotdoughnutsnow at 7:42 PM on February 21, 2002


I can picture dubya's apology:

"Oh there were two world wars! Shit, I'm sorry."
posted by jonmc at 7:44 PM on February 21, 2002


Don't worry, folks. At least he takes the lens cap off his binoculars before he looks through them.

That ought to count for something, right? It's not like he devalued a major currency or anything.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 7:45 PM on February 21, 2002


To every one of us who want him GONE in 2004, this is definately news.

Please. Fuel for the fire, yes. Fodder for a campaign? Yes.

News? Not compared to a thousand other things that happened today.

If your every statement were reported by the press, I bet you'd make a blunder at least once a day.

(btw - it's "definItely" and "misspeaks" (and yes, I misspelled that one, too))
posted by donpardo at 7:51 PM on February 21, 2002


you see, there's no reason to take cheap shots at bush. he's perfectly capable of embarassing himself.
posted by mcsweetie at 7:59 PM on February 21, 2002


A century and a half.
Yes, this century, our 21st, and half the previous one. Sounds reasonable enough to me.
posted by G_Ask at 8:00 PM on February 21, 2002


Who elected that guy? *ducks*
posted by MegoSteve at 8:02 PM on February 21, 2002


mr_crash_davis : Uh, no, it turns out he can't manage that right either.

Laughing, crying, I can't tell the difference any more.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 8:02 PM on February 21, 2002


"If your every statement were reported by the press, I bet you'd make a blunder at least once a day."

This is the continual retort to every one of Dubya's verbal gaffes, and yet it still stands to reason that none of us is the "Leader of the Free World" while he is, and thus he deserves the extra scrutiny that comes with the job.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 8:04 PM on February 21, 2002


Certainly Mr. Bush is deserving of scrutiny for being in the "lofty" position of President. However, Leader of the Free World does not mean Public Speaking Champion of the Free World.

I'm as critical as anyone of this man and his policies, but, to be constructive, let's concentrate our criticisms on the really juicy stuff like his best friend Mr. Lay or his awful tax rebate last summer. Focusing in on this stuff makes you look petty and nit picky.
posted by bump at 8:11 PM on February 21, 2002


I'm not trying to defend him. I'm just saying that this particular screw-up has no lasting effect. If you want to spend the next 2.5 years pointing and laughing, go ahead, but it serves no purpose.

And it's still not news.
posted by donpardo at 8:13 PM on February 21, 2002


Kinda like calling a candidate a liar for inventing the internet?
posted by crunchland at 8:13 PM on February 21, 2002


Good call, bump. But just because we're focussing on the Main Game doesn't mean we can't also have some fun with the silly bastard.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 8:13 PM on February 21, 2002


donpardo:

"If you want to spend the next 2.5 years pointing and laughing, go ahead..."

Thanks, I think I will. Interspersed with crying into my beer, of course.

Oh, and I'm just having giggling fits over Don Pardo defending someone's inability to speak properly, BTW.

bump:

"...Leader of the Free World does not mean Public Speaking Champion of the Free World"

I'm not saying it should. My point is that he seems to have less than a stellar grasp of his native tongue. I don't expect every President to spit out the Gettysburg Address every time he opens his mouth. On the other hand, I don't expect to cringe every time there's an open microphone around him, which I find myself doing with this guy.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 8:20 PM on February 21, 2002


Heh, comments on this post are pretty 50/50, but a tad bit more are against Bush, leading me to speculate with no scientific certainty that Gore should of won.
posted by banished at 8:32 PM on February 21, 2002


I think even saying a half century of alliance is stupid - and intentional. We had troops there - they weren't allies so much as they were conquered territory.

We will do better in 2004, won't we?
posted by kcmoryan at 8:37 PM on February 21, 2002


Was the eloquence of past Presidents like Reagan news? People made a big deal out of it then and have continued to do so. If the eloquence of a leader is notable, so is an absence of eloquence, especially when it involves unbelievable slips like this one.

But even if it's not news, it certainly is comedy, albeit tragic comedy.
posted by homunculus at 8:55 PM on February 21, 2002


America has the leader it deserves.
posted by websavvy at 9:10 PM on February 21, 2002


"Oh there were two world wars!"

Yes, but Japan was one of the Allies in World War I.
posted by kirkaracha at 9:21 PM on February 21, 2002


Yeah, I know, I know. MetaFilter is too liberal. We should all get over Bush winning. But I feel like we liberals deserve some moments of pettiness. Considering that Gore was made out to be a buffoon all over popular media for imprecise phrasing that his political opponents spun to connote that he believed himself the inventor of the internet (that was the worse clause ever), I am ready to take Bush to task over every wild oratorical blunder he makes. Especially considering they seem to get worse and worse. Ammo for the reelection campaign. In '04, people will be like, "Hey, let's elect this random frat-boy!" I'll be all, "Nope. Remember that time he denied the occurrence of World War II." The press will say, "We love him! He makes up nicknames for us!" I'll be like, "Yeah, and he calls Pakistani people by ethnic slurs." Rush Limbaugh will cry, "But Al Gore invented the Internet!" And I'll just respond, "But George Bush devalued the yen!" The man is unsmart.
posted by grrarrgh00 at 9:24 PM on February 21, 2002


But I do wish there was a general Bush Gaffes thread that we could post to and put on the sidebar, because at the rate he goes, it's at least a FPP a week if you're trying to keep up. And that's excessive.
posted by grrarrgh00 at 9:26 PM on February 21, 2002


I used to be so annoyed by these sorts of threads, but now I smile every time I see one, because bump is right. This level of snarkiness might play on Metafilter, but in the eyes of the voting public, it makes the Democrats look unbelievably petty. You see, unlike those here ideologically blinded enough to rationalize these teleprompter misreadings as supposed proof that their enemy is a moron, the public in general knows better. They know that they make such silly little mistakes every day themselves. They know that those of you attacking Bush for these mistakes every single day, also make the same mistakes every single day. They see through it. They see through you. Combine that with the fact that they overwhelmingly think Bush has done an amazing job in a wartime situation, and they end up feeling nothing but disgust towards liberals for trying to bring him down in such a pathetic fashion.

Please, by all means, highlight every single one of Bush's verbal gaffes! Keep it up, I beg of you!
posted by aaron at 9:32 PM on February 21, 2002


"...they end up feeling nothing but disgust towards liberals for trying to bring him down in such a pathetic fashion"

Ah, the "L" word. Good to see you in this thread, aaron.

I'd hardly be considered a "liberal" anywhere but here in Utah, but I stand by my assertion that Dubya is a simpleton and deserves to be called out on it at every possible opportunity. I voted against him (wasting my vote in overwhelmingly [R] Utah) not because of his platform, but because he's a mental midget when it comes to the English language. I refuse to believe that someone with such a profound disregard for his mother tongue deserves to occupy the White House. I want my highest elected representative to be able to communicate clearly and logically, and this man is woefully ill-equipped to do so.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 9:43 PM on February 21, 2002


Oh aaron. Don't be silly.

The idea that we shouldn't hold the President of the United states up to slightly higher standards than we'd apply to a dirt farmer from BumTickle, Wyoming (apologies to all the MeFite residents of BumTickle, and the proud profession of dirt-farming) is one of the things that has contributed to the decline of your once (justifiably) proud nation in recent times.

And "Bush has done an amazing job in a wartime situation". Tee hee. Compared to who?
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:44 PM on February 21, 2002


The guy should just switch to spanish and be done with it. It impresses everyone and he can excuse any gaffe because, hey its spanish.
posted by skallas at 9:45 PM on February 21, 2002


My impression is that Bush spoke extremely well in the days following the 9/11 attack. Certainly when I heard him, he was not stammering, confused, or gaffing.

Quite a sharp contrast to his earlier speeches and press conferences, I thought.

My suspicion is that a lot of it is an act: by playing the role of a buffoon, he will be underestimated. This gives him an advantage over his opponents.

But, hey, I'm also open to the suggetion that he is, indeed, a buffoon, and that if he managed to string two sentences together without fumbling, it was only through the best of luck, not skill...

(that last sentence was brought to you by run-on sentences R us)
posted by five fresh fish at 9:45 PM on February 21, 2002


Recently read: Whenever a Bush goes to Japan, something horrible comes out of his mouth.
posted by crunchland at 9:46 PM on February 21, 2002


Guys, you've got it all wrong. Bush meant to say that. This was all just a plant by the Ministry of Truth, err...the Office of Political Influence
posted by dogmatic at 9:52 PM on February 21, 2002


Eternal vigilance, my friends, eternal vigilance.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:54 PM on February 21, 2002


"I used to be so annoyed by these sorts of threads, but now I smile every time I see one, because bump is right. This level of snarkiness might play on Metafilter, but in the eyes of the voting public, it makes the Democrats look unbelievably petty."

Suspect you're right on this one. Republicans learned ... for a number of years they made a big deal out of the fact that Bill Clinton may have been smart, but he was clearly a slut. Turns out people didn't care. In fact a good portion of the population has had affairs themselves. suspect it will be the same with Bush - pounce all over him for little shit like this and you may get cheers on MiFi, but you'll just appear petty to most of America come election time. Bush's bumbling nature connects him to the electorate in the same strange way Clinton's sexcapades did for Clinton.
posted by MidasMulligan at 9:58 PM on February 21, 2002


Aaron, lemme ask you a question. I'm not baiting you, I wont be snarky in reply, I sincerely want to know, because whatever your political philosophy, I get the impression that you are an educated, intelligent person.

Do you think Bush is intelligent? Honestly. I actually don't think it particularly matters, because I'd vote for a brain damaged monkey if I thought he'd further the interests of me and my family. I'm just curious. Also, you don't find any of this funny? Even a little?
posted by Doug at 10:03 PM on February 21, 2002


Interestingly, perhaps, the Asahi Shimbun newspaper quotes excerpts from the speech, without commentary, including the 'century and a half' gaffe.

I'm curious to see what the Japanese media makes of it. All the talk in this thread thus far has (typically) been about Bush, and America. Although there are some who would say 'who the hell cares what them furrinners think?' and there are some who do say that very thing, I think that's a dangerous stance to take.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 10:06 PM on February 21, 2002


stavros - you think the Japanese are going to be unhappy that someone forgot about World War II? They've been waiting for that to happen for the past 50 years.
posted by jaek at 10:19 PM on February 21, 2002


...and they conveniently excise their WWII and pre-war atrocities against the Koreans and others from their high-school history textbooks, which continues to infuriate the government in Seoul. Painful.

I think though, if I was a young Japanese, I'd be furious when the American president appeared to forget that his nation dropped a couple of nukes on mine in living memory.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 10:29 PM on February 21, 2002


I love the fact that people here, and elsewhere, debate the facts that our current bushy (sorry, refuse to call him pres) can't speak common English for shit. Yet, when you think about it, with congress, and the cabinet (most of which, if not all was placed by Bush Sr.) do most of the policy making, both domestically and internationally, basically the pres of the US, no matter who it is, has become a spokesmodel. And, yet, as a spokesmodel, I give W about 1 and a half stars. Two blunders in one week during an already-tainted-before-it-began-trip into the heart of the "evil axis". Sorry, he's gotta do better. Sigh.
posted by Ufez Jones at 10:49 PM on February 21, 2002


Do you think Bush is intelligent? Honestly. I actually don't think it particularly matters, because I'd vote for a brain damaged monkey if I thought he'd further the interests of me and my family. I'm just curious.

Yes, I think Bush is intelligent. I do not think he's the most brilliant man ever to walk the face of the earth. I do not think he's an "intellectual" in the academic/professorial sense. I'm even willing to admit it's quite probable that, if they were both suddenly forced to take the SATs again on five minutes' notice, Al Gore would probably beat him. But I think the scores would be closer than most others here think. And there's still the simple fact that he has a degree from Yale and an MBA from Harvard, which is a better education than 99% of MeFites have. I would not vote for someone for president - or any office - if I truly thought had some sort of problem with their mental faculties, whether they were Republican or not.

Also, you don't find any of this funny? Even a little?

This particular mistake? Not really. All he did was let his eyes get ahead of himself on the teleprompter and transpose a couple of words, causing him to utter a sentence that was perfect English, but was merely factually wrong. Other mistakes he's made? Sure. I think Bushisms such as "hispanically" and "It's your money, you paid for it!" to be hilarious. (I really love "strategery," but alas, that one's an SNL invention.) The problem is that these threads are not good-natured ribbing of his verbal flubs; they're mean-spirited attacks on him over the most minor mistakes, posted for partisan political purposes. And even that wouldn't be so bad, if it wasn't for the sheer quantity of such threads. This is at least the third one this WEEK ... the fourth if you count the attempt to smear Ashcroft in similar fashion. It gets old really REALLY fast, and they doesn't even serve any purpose other than to preach to the choir.

(A lot of Republicans often wonder, by the way, if five fresh fish's hypothesis might not be true: That Bush intentionally "flubs" things reguarly in order to encourage the Democrats to keep on playing the "Bush-as-moron" card, one that they know, from years of focus group studies, doesn't work against Bush and backfires on the Democrats.)
posted by aaron at 11:21 PM on February 21, 2002


Fair enough, except for the "partisan" thing. Oversimplification yields conflict.

Shit, I sound like yoda.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 11:24 PM on February 21, 2002


I think though, if I was a young Japanese, I'd be furious when the American president appeared to forget that his nation dropped a couple of nukes on mine in living memory.

Yeah, it's a tough call. They'd like to get the sympathy for being the only nation to end up on the wrong end of a nuke, but don't like to contemplate how they got there.

In any event, I'd imagine that W's idea of remembering the atomic bombings would be more along the lines of "We're sorry that we had to nuke you" instead of "We're sorry that we nuked you" so perhaps it's just as well.
posted by jaek at 11:28 PM on February 21, 2002


The problem is that these threads are not good-natured ribbing of his verbal flubs; they're mean-spirited attacks on him over the most minor mistakes, posted for partisan political purposes. And even that wouldn't be so bad, if it wasn't for the sheer quantity of such threads.

Exactly. We're not arguing policy or evidence; we're (MeFi) mocking him as part of an agenda to belittle Bush, as a person.

I completely agree that some of his policies are ill-advised. It's too bad that most arguments here tend to focus on whether he zipped his fly, choked on a pretzel, or fumbled a word.
posted by BlueTrain at 11:29 PM on February 21, 2002


Strike that, not "most arguments" but insert "most comments"...
posted by BlueTrain at 11:30 PM on February 21, 2002


Fair enough, except for the "partisan" thing. Oversimplification yields conflict.

Well, the definition of "partisan" reads: a firm adherent to a party, faction, cause, or person; especially : one exhibiting blind, prejudiced, and unreasoning allegiance. It doesn't have to just be the Democratic Party vs the Republican Party. There is obviously a common cause amongst practically all of the Bush-as-moron posters: namely, to try to convince others (or at least themselves) that Bush is a moron. They could have voted for Nader or Hagelin or God-knows-who in 2000.
posted by aaron at 11:58 PM on February 21, 2002


Way to spin it, Aaron. Don't be embarrassed because our president makes 3 or for gaffes per week... be embarrassed for the partisanship of Metafilter for pointing them all out. And you may think that it gets old really fast, but apparently we don't. And while I might be able to understand the stratagery of appearing to be a clown here in the US, what possible advantage can it be to appear to be one to foreign allies? Finally, those two diplomas George has are the best money can buy.

Face it, if a democrat were in office and was making all of these mistakes, you'd be all over him like flies on shit. I suspect it gets old really fast for you because you're tired of having to defend the indefensible.
posted by crunchland at 4:10 AM on February 22, 2002


"It begins here because for a century and a half now, my brain and monkey shit have formed one of the great and enduring alliances of modern times."
posted by quonsar at 5:26 AM on February 22, 2002


Hmm... First, Devaluation vs. Deflation, now a Century and a Half vs. a Half-Century... And everyone defends him. Maybe we can get away with mistakes like that, but the leader of the greatest, most powerful country on earth? I believe he of all people should not be making such careless errors.

I guess then that I should take nothing that comes out of his mouth seriously, right?
posted by eas98 at 6:48 AM on February 22, 2002


That said, I have to wonder how many times a day each of us mis-speaks and doesn't catch it

A good point, as far as informal speech goes. But for a formal, and likely prepared speech, this silliness is the mark of a man who is simply not cognizant of the words coming out of his mouth.
posted by holycola at 7:31 AM on February 22, 2002


It brings us down to the embarrassing Rush Limbaugh level of playground taunts and nyah nyah nyah'ing to keep bringing up little gaffes like this.

I want him gone as much as anyone but there are substantial reasons to want him gone, without resorting to the typical right-wing name-calling.
posted by Danf at 9:14 AM on February 22, 2002


And there's still the simple fact that he has a degree from Yale and an MBA from Harvard, which is a better education than 99% of MeFites have.

Oh, and daddy's money and social promotion certainly didn't have anything to do with that. It was pure scholarship. Now if only Yale was sending out get your diploma now emails...
posted by y2karl at 9:28 AM on February 22, 2002


Yeah, Bush sounds like an idiot because it's really a brilliant strategy to endear himself to the people. Right. It worked great for Dan Quayle.
posted by StOne at 9:39 AM on February 22, 2002


Gotta love that Ivy League edjukashun.
posted by tsarfan at 10:55 AM on February 22, 2002


What, uh, about the sheer irony here? It was Bush who chose to regurgitate the term "Axis of Evil". "Axis of Evil" being an allusion, of course, to that wee conflict back in the 40's in which the "Axis" was Germany, Italy, and yes the empire of Japan.

Some slip of the tongue, indeed! Who knows, maybe Bush just doesn't think of Japan as actually being on the wrong side of that war- what with allegations of how his gran'pa made some of the Bush family fortune back in the day...
posted by hincandenza at 11:24 AM on February 22, 2002


Stepping back from a mere word transposition, what are we to think of a president who calls North Korea one of three countries forming an "Axis of Evil" and then stands in its demilitirized zone a month later, talking about the great nation that could be formed if the noble countries of North and South Korea unite?

As far as I'm concerned the man is far more interested in sensationalisim and media attention than any actual progress. And that's giving him credit. The alternative is that he's jsut stupid and dangerous.
posted by kfury at 3:14 PM on February 22, 2002


And you may think that it gets old really fast, but apparently we don't.

No, apparently you don't. Which, as I stated once already, is the best gift you could possibly give to the Republican Party in 2002. Again, I encourage you all to keep bringing up every sad little pissant verbal mistake of Bush's you can find!
posted by aaron at 5:47 PM on February 22, 2002


OK. I will. Thanks!

(But I'll also keep an eye on all the big, evil, anti-democratic stuff too, if that's OK with you...)
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:03 PM on February 22, 2002


Dredging up this old post to say that the Washington Post is finally reporting on the sanitizing of Bush's verbal blunders on the official White House website, and wondering if it woudn't be better for preserve the unvarnished President for history.
posted by crunchland at 8:23 AM on April 16, 2002


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