T Nation

The Big Bush Flaw


Great article that discusses the presidents biggest flaw, communication. I've said it many times before, if only Bush had the communication skills and charisma of Clinton.

You could catch Clinton giving it to your mom greek, smacking her ass with a riding crop, and ten minutes later you're making him breakfast while he explains away the whole ordeal. That guy could communicate. It's really too bad that Bush cannot communicate any better.


Un-Explainer in Chief
Bill Clinton's gift (and curse) was that he could explain just about anything. George Bush, on the other hand, distrusts public talk.

By Howard Fineman
Updated: 3:36 p.m. ET March 1, 2006

I first saw Bill Clinton perform at a National Governors Conference 22 years ago in Nashville. I was NEWSWEEK's brand new political correspondent; Clinton was in his second term as "boy governor" of Arkansas. He was carrying Chelsea in his arms as we all played tourist, filing respectfully through Andrew Jackson's Hermitage. I pointed to Clinton and told my wife that I thought he'd be president some day.

Unfortunately, for me and the magazine, I didn't commit that guess to print in the spring of 1984. But it didn't take a seer to understand his talent.

Well, I saw Clinton at another governors association meeting the other day, and I had to agree when a Democrat whispered to me, "You know, if the Constitution allowed it, that guy could get elected again."

Only Elvis could mesmerize a ballroom full of politicians with a lecture on the economics of cooking fast-food French fries. But that's precisely what he did at the governors' gathering here. His riff ("They could cook 'em in olive oil, of course, which would be healthy, but it would be prohibitively expensive....") was part of an hourlong, impromptu aria on the health-care crisis facing the country.

Deeply (almost comically) up to speed on details of the issue, he effortlessly wove the disparate strands?from insurance-industry profits to the chemistry of fat digestion to the history of the Department of Agriculture crop programs?into a comprehensible whole.

That was his gift and his curse: he could explain (almost) anything.

Clinton's performance reminded me of the leadership strengths?and weaknesses?of his baby-boomer successor. George W. Bush is in choppy water over the Dubai ports issue. And he is so, in large part, because, unlike Clinton, he is a man of bullet points, not explanations; of slogans, not systems; of certitude, not complexity.

I've known Bush for a long time and I know that he distrusts talk, at least public talk. He'd rather make a decision?give an order?and then go out and attack a felled tree with a chain saw. He is confident to the point of arrogance when he makes a "tough call." But he objects by nature to the demand that he explain his reasoning or the process behind it.

Why he is this way, I don't quite know. In part, perhaps, it's a sense of entitlement that comes from being a fourth-generation national leader (counting his great-grandfather, Samuel Bush, an Ohio industrialist who founded the National Manufacturers' Association).

Another reason is his father's political saga. Junior hated watching his dad's painfully compulsive need to explain himself in public and vowed: not me. Then there's West Texas, where Bush learned his social Tough Guy ways on the playgrounds of Sam Houston Elementary and San Jacinton Junior High, and then later at the Midland Petroleum Club. The ethic out there is to distrust talkers. You shake hands.

Finally, there is Bush's tongue-tied-in-public nature. He's unsure of himself without a simple script.

It's almost as if Microsoft had George W. Bush in mind when they invented PowerPoint.

The man-of-few-words approach has its virtues, and they matched the moment in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 and, for the most part, since. Bush's deep belief in his vision of global democratization, coupled with the eloquence of speeches crafted for state occasions by Michael Gerson, carried the day. Dazed and confused and searching for old verities after the terrorist attacks, I think most Americans found some comfort in Bush the Growling Cowboy.

That time has passed, though. The main reason of course, is that the simple, black-and-white solutions that the president sketched for us in the "war on terror" haven't materialized. Most Americans now consider the war in Iraq to have been a mistake, one that has made us less secure here in what is now called "the homeland." They see his Manichaean clarity not as a comfort, but as a danger?because it underestimates the complexity of the real world. There are many more moving parts to consider in the world than the simple clockwork Bush had described.

So after years of saying how fundamentally simple and stark things were?Good Guys and Bad Guys, Good and Evil, freedom and slavery, light and darkness?the president has suddenly had to concede, or propose, that the Dubai port deal is all about the complexities of the real world, of globalized commerce, of leases and not ownership, of friendly Middle Easterners versus enemy Middle Easterners, of friends who recognize Israel, and friends who don't?and won't, perhaps ever.

The administration will take 45 days to try to describe why the Dubai deal is a good thing for the country. But it'll take an army of explainers to do the trick?and you won't hear the president do it in a prime-time speech.

Suddenly, it's a complicated, gray world out there: the kind that a Bill Clinton would feel at home in, and could explain.


The guy could be a used car salesman,that Slick Willie.But Bush is different,he might not communicate well,but he is a likeable guy.But what pisses me off is Bush is so damn secretive,he doesn't explain anything to the people.Bush would fuck your mom and just run off when you caught him,and just have his staff explain what he did.I don't care if he doesn't have to run again,he still the leader of the free world and he doesn't act like it.He lets his enemies dictate his actions,and its not only hurting him,but America's image worldwide.Just fucking come out and tell us what you're up to,and how you plan on governing,he has good plans,but he never sells it or explains it,then his enemies in the media winds up doing it for him.So his lack of communication is what sucks,not his style or presentation.


Hmmm...I like the hypothetical - how would various political leaders handle fucking your mom. Rumsfield would say, "Was I fucking your mom? Could have been. How many times did I do it? Could have been 6, 60, or 600, but I doubt it. Would I do it again? Well, if I knew then what I know now, and still knew that later, then who knows?"


I agree. While I don't think Bush's communication skills are at the cartoon level claimed by his unserious critics, my problem is that he doesn't communicate enough. In a state of war, he needs to be out there, making the case, and galvanizing support. He doesn't need to be flawleslly eloquent, but he needs to be willing - and, too often, I don't think he is.

Unlike Clinton, who thought he should follow public opinion, I think the President should be leading public opinion - and you can't do that with Bush's hesitation.




If by communication problems you mean communicating facts then yes, Bush just might have a problem.


For an example please watch or read any, and I do emphasize this, any speech given by Mr.Bush. You just may find consistent use of rhetoric, both inductive and deductive.

Examples of fallacies:

-Appeal to Belief
"Members of the Congress of both political parties, and members of the United Nations Security Council, agree that Saddam Hussein is a threat to peace and must disarm."

-Appeal to Emotion
"Tonight I want to take a few minutes to discuss a grave threat to peace, and America's determination to lead the world in confronting that threat [Iraq]."

-Appealing to Fear
"Knowing these realities, America must not ignore the threat gathering against us. Facing clear evidence of peril, we cannot wait for the final proof -- the smoking gun -- that could come in the form of a mushroom cloud."

-Fallacy of Composistion
"Eleven years ago, as a condition for ending the Persian Gulf War, the Iraqi regime was required to destroy its weapons of mass destruction, to cease all development of such weapons, and to stop all support for terrorist groups. The Iraqi regime has violated all of those obligations. It possesses and produces chemical and biological weapons. It is seeking nuclear weapons."

-Misleading Vividness
"We also must never forget the most vivid events of recent history. On September the 11th, 2001, America felt its vulnerability -- even to threats that gather on the other side of the earth."

The temporary state of right or wrong is inconsequential and irrelevent if one cannot reach their conclusion based on valid deductions, or at least inductions, which I personally find almost non-existent in all serious topics proposed in politics, on all sides, which results in having to create this response to this particular topic in the first place, wouldn't you agree?



Thanks for the regurgitated leftist bullshit. It's been a while since I vomited in my mouth.


Your fallacies - appeals to Belief, Emotion, and Fear - are only fallacies if the speaker relies solely on those things to support the argument. This is not the case.

Bush mentions that

, but this is provable and measurable, and not being used by itself to justify an action - Bush is not saying "since all these Members of Congress believe it, it must therefore be right".

Same goes for the other ones. For example, in the third one, Bush specifically states

, which means he just gave a couple of realities, or reasons, to support why he wants to do something he thinks we should do.



Nuff' said.