The Facts Machine

"And I come back to you now, at the turn of the tide"

Thursday, August 05, 2004

THE LEADER OF THE FREE WORLD (+ gitmo, abu ghraib)

...had this to say today during a bill-signing ceremony:
"Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we," Bush said. "They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we."
O . . .

. . .

. . . kay.

(Thanks to Alex for the link)

No debunking yet over at Volokh, since this one is pretty much straight-up accidental stupidity, none of this "their hands were cut off" or "he was making an ironic musing about Brazil's demographics!" mitigation yet. (Okay so I haven't heard anyone try that 2nd one) But as a public service, I will try to break this one down.

President Bush runs into trouble when he deals with subjects, verbs, and objects (of all kinds) when he's not speaking from a script. I suppose that's majestically faint praise on my part. Anyway, his big errors come when he applies the same verb and object to different subjects. In this case, he applied the verb-object phrase "never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people", he applied it to America's enemies, and he then applied it to "we".

Slate's "Kerryisms" feature attempts to fault John Kerry for beefing up his sentences with unnecessary extras. It appears that Bush has a mutant variety of that same problem; he beefs up his verb phrases to a high degree of specificity, but neglects to make necessary adjustments to the phrase when he tries to apply it to a different, sometimes opposing subject. The end result? Hilarity!

Bush has a history of this sort of verb-subject error. In the run-up to the invasion of Iraq, he addressed Saddam Hussein in a speech by saying:
Either you disarm, or we will.
The only way that works is if we're to believe that "you" is both a subject and and object. But to an impartial ear, all we get is more hilarity!

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