We are non-commercial, all volunteer and supported by our readers. Please help sustain the Dew by making a donation.
We report; you decide
That little flourish, “we report, you decide,” with which FOX radio announcers conclude their segments is actually an accurate representation of their operation. It would also be applicable to FOX TV, which is really nothing but radio with pictures and a written scroll, just in case the talking heads get boring, but I don’t know that they use it.
“We report; you decide” fits perfectly with the binary model of the world in which instinct-driven people reside. Everything is divided into two parts, which exist as separate entities, not connected but in opposition. One party reports/repeats some/same thing, absent any sense of weight or import or time, and the other party decides, leaving what is to be decided totally unspecified. The phrase employs verbs or action words as if they were nouns (“me man; you woman”), in a state of stasis. Conflict may be implied by the placement of the contestants in opposition, in their respective “corners,” but there is no action. The parties never connect.
Given this context, GWB’s characterization of himself as “the Decider,” takes on a whole new aspect. It is even possible that, having listened to FOX news on the road to some event, he was just repeating, being agreeable with how he’d been addressed and aligning himself with all those other “yous” — deciders who don’t do or actually decide anything, just provide an occasion for a rhetorical flourish.
GWB, the Decider, as a rhetorical flourish! Now, there’s an idea that might well explain a lot. Perhaps if his rhetoric had been more grounded, the significance of George W. Bush might not have dissipated so rapidly or totally. His mother once said the family didn’t think he was smart enough. Perhaps that was because his speech was limited by how much he could memorize at one time. His reports had to be brief, unless he was given a speech he could read. Then, that he read slowly was a help because it made his reading sound as if he were speaking off the cuff.
When I think of George W. Bush two images come to mind. Both involve him reading speeches in circumstances he should have been able to ad lib. One is the 2000 high school graduation in Crawford, Texas, captured by David Modigliani in his 2008 movie, “Crawford,” in which candidate Bush reads his introductory remarks from a binder, and the other is the post-plane crash “impromptu” announcement of the “apparent terrorist attack.” In the latter, the President is intent on the notes of his prepared speech and makes sure not to leave them as he hurries from the lectern, the Decider-in-Chief.
Since the timeline of the visit to the Booker Elementary School does not allow for him having written the announcement himself, whatever “remarks” had been prepared for him earlier were either edited or re-written by someone else.
I suppose it’s to be expected that Governors and Presidents have their pronouncements prepared by speech-writers, people who put words into their mouths. But, that George W. Bush was particularly prone to making gaffes when speaking off the cuff apparently still rankles Republicans and accounts for their insistence that President Obama’s major speeches, for which he employs a teleprompter, rather than binders or paper notes, are no different and someone else is doing his thinking for him.
It seems instinct-driven Republicans exist in an http://hannah.smith-family.com/?p=7019 present in which the past is always with them and the future never arrives. That might explain the recent kerfuffle over when President Obama referred to the attack on the building in Benghazi it as a “terrorist act.” That he did it the next day in the rose garden apparently confounded some people, among them the Republican candidate for President, who were still hung up on the questions raised by the fact that George W. Bush “saw” the hand of terrorists before the attacks on the trade center and Pentagon were even over. Perhaps George W. Bush “jumping the gun” was supposed to be (retroactively) demonstrated as normal because Barack Obama did it too. But, by specifying the time when he did it (after more information arrived), Obama (inadvertently) invalidated what was to be proved. Barack Obama is not an instinct-driven man, as the McCain correctly sussed out when an ad declared near the end of the 2008 campaign that Obama’s instincts are “bad.”
That Barack Obama is just like George W. Bush is supposed to prove something, but I’m not sure what that is.
George W. Bush is always on time. His staff apparently made sure of that. But being on time may well be an effort to compensate for his seeming lack of awareness of time as a linear progression or sequence of events. If so, it would explain, for example, why Bush claimed to have seen the crash of the first plane on TV, before it was shown on TV. It would also explain why he continued sitting listening to a reading lesson after the second crash was reported to him. Nobody had told him to move. Then, when they did tell him to leave, he is reported to have resisted because he was hungry and wanted to eat.
Well, the designation of himself as a decider was obviously not a fleeting rhetorical flourish by Bush. Just this April, in an exclusive interview with Parade Magazine, on the occasion of the dedication of the GWB Presidential Library in Dallas, the former President was asked about the biggest adjustment leaving the White House required and he answered:
Not to have this sense of responsibility that you had when you were president and first lady. You know, one day you’re being briefed on world affairs and asked to make decisions, and the next, you’re in Crawford, Texas, you know, and the biggest decision is when do you go mountain bike riding. [laughs]
There it is. “You decide.” Absolutely meaningless.
- Editor's Note: This story also published at Hannah Blog.
Worthy of Comment
Also on the Dew
Write what you know. Has anyone ever given you that advice? I have spent some time thinking this over and wondering, just what did Madeleine L’Engle know about time travel? And what in the world provoked Ray Bradbury and that creepy carousel? So heck with the old chestnut “write what you know.” Today I am writing about what I don’t know. I don’t know why people take to the couch or bed. Call me insensitive but no matter how down in the black books I get, a quick walk or a punishing hike seems to straighten my world out. Get off your ass Read on →
My friend Hugh Wilson once described the Atlanta Steeplechase as an event where a large crowd of well-dressed people stand in a pasture and get drunk while horses jump over bushes. The Atlanta Steeplechase celebrated its 50th anniversary this past weekend. A lot of people dressed up in clothes they probably wouldn’t wear to work or church, women wore fancy hats, the good china came out for elaborate tailgating, alcohol was consumed in abundance, and there was some pretty darn exciting horse racing. There were also terrier races, a demonstration by some really cool bird dogs, and camel riding for the kids. ( Read on →
The Lady Juliana was built in the Thames River, London. She was a fine looking three-masted barque of about 400 tons, 110 feet long, 30 feet beam and two decks. It is believed she was the first British ship captured by American privateers in May 1776, near Cuba, on a passage from Jamaica to London. While en-route to Rhode Island the captive Lady Juliana was re-taken by a British man-of-war and conveyed to England where she resumed her role running to and from the Caribbean. In September 1782 the Lady Juliana was struck by lightning and lost her main mast Read on →
April 25 was the one-day of the year Ashley met up with his old army buddies. He left early in the morning to march down the main street of the town and then visit the Returned Servicemen’s Club. It was a long day, the only day of the year he drank alcohol because his stomach had been ulcerated by chlorine and mustard gas a long time before. At the end of the day he would be violently ill but said it was worth the agony and the inevitable lecture from his wife. He stopped at our house on his way h Read on →