Friday, September 21, 2007

Mandela is not dead: Deconstructing a Bushism

It seems there has been some confusion over a recent remark by President Bush. At a news conference yesterday, President Bush pounded his lectern with ferocity and said, "I heard somebody say, 'Where's Mandela?' Well, Mandela's dead because Saddam Hussein killed all the Mandelas."

Now, this caused immediate derision among comedians and bitter left-wing activists. Bush is an idiot! Look, see what he just said? Buffoon!

Well, I am not so sure. After almost seven years, I am starting to think that perhaps our president is not as dumb as he appears. On the contrary, it is possible that he is far smarter than anyone gives him credit for. Indeed, I am fairly certain that President Bush speaks in metaphors -- which would no doubt cause confusion among liberals determined to malign him at every opportunity. Further, the president probably does not say what he is thinking, and when he does pick up a thought in the middle, it is even more confusing for the rest of us, who were not privy to his original internal discussions. ( I am fairly certain he does this, because I used to be guilty of the same offense. in my freshman year writing composition course, I never provided enough background exposition, and my grade suffered for it.)

So let's go ahead and break down the president's remark:

It probably made perfect sense to the president, because he was thinking of a recent discussion he had had, and so to him, the context of his statement was clear. To the rest of us, it was not, at least not initially. But, clearly, the president had been discussing freedom in Iraq, and somebody had probably asked him, why are there no Iraqi revolutionaries stepping up? Why won't anyone stand up against the violence and the injustices -- Where are all the Iraqi Nelson Mandelas?

Well, the president must have responded, "No one is stepping up because all of the potential democratic reformers were killed in Saddam's regime. There are no more Nelson Mandelas..." (and this is where he started the story with the reporters) "...Mandela's dead because Saddam Hussein killed all the Mandelas."

In the president's mind, "Mandela" is a symbol for any outspoken Democratic activists. Now, I'm not sure if the president actually believes that there are no more potential activists in Iraq because Saddam killed them all, or whether he is simply speaking in hyperbole. But either way, he is clearly not unintelligible.

The key, then, to understanding the president, is to think like the president.

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