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May 14, 2004

Free Speech

When Smoking Gun released this “home movie” clip of President Bush at a wedding party in 1992, the story line had to do with alcohol. Of course, the fact that Bush teases his friends for not drinking, and looks like he’s having a beer, is noteworthy because of the huge fact he’s made about quitting booze “on the spot” in 1986.

However, I posted the clip for another reason. Whenever Bush speaks in public, he can hardly put two words together. Typically, he stammers and stumbles, until he forcing out something that sounds like it came from a third grader. In the clip, however, Bush couldn’t be more glib.

Of course, Bush’s tortured speech has been widely noted and often ridiculed, but rarely explained. Putting on my shrink hat for a moment, I attribute it to guardedness. My sense is that Bush’s maniacal and literal preoccupation with maintaining appearances and “sticking to message” takes a devastating toll on verbal spontaneity. Even in the video, among friends, Bush seems to be conscious about what he saying. (Remember, this was before he was even Governor).

Considering his comments, I would guess there is at least one other factor in Bush’s fluidity: He is speaking in his true native language, which is sarcasm.

Here’s the link in Quicktime. Here’s another version in an .avi format. Here’s the original Smoking Gun link.

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