Joe Scarborough started his program tonight asking the question "is Bush an idiot?" (Is that really debatable?). Not only did he do a great run down of clips involving some of the most famous "Bushisms", but he did have an interesting conversation about this question with Lawrence O'Donnell and John Fund
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(Until my servers are fixed, here's the Youtube)
Lawrence O'Donnell made an interesting statement that Bush is an easy target and probably "the easiest ever at this point". Fund worked his hardest to defend Bush and even resorted to saying it was the left who made these claims because "they can not argue with his policies".
Scarborough probably had the most interesting observation when he brought up talked about old clips of when Bush was Governor of Texas and did not make anywhere near the number of mistakes that he does now and said it "seems like he is losing confidence by the day".
This segment is a definite keeper. That way when we see "how history judges" Bush, we have video evidence for the jury.
Update: transcript vis MSNBC
Scarborough: We have those stories and a lot more, but first former pop star Linda Ronstadt, you remember, “You‘re no good, you‘re no good, baby, you‘re no good. Well, Linda has joined the long list of celebrities and other public figures who berated President Bush for his lack of intelligence. But it is not just singers and movie stars who are suggesting that George Bush‘s mental weakness is damaging America‘s credibility at home and abroad.
Ronstadt said this earlier: “The Dixie Chicks said they were embarrassed he was from Texas.I‘m embarrassed George Bush is from the United States [The president] is an idiot.He‘s enormously incompetent, on both the domestic and international scenes.”
That is, no doubt, a sentiment that is shared in some of the capitals of our friends and foes alike. Maybe because the president has such a long history of public gaffs, but is that evidence that George W. Bush is stupid or just inarticulate.
Take a look, and decide for yourself.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP MONTAGE)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think tide turning
as I remember it, I was raised in the desert, but tides—it is easy to see a tide turn. Did I say those words?
No question that the enemy has tried to spread sectarian violence.
They use violence as a tool to do that.
We need an energy bill that encourages consumption.
Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking of new ways to harm our country and our people. And neither to we; we must never stop thinking about how best to defend our country.
I am the decider, and I decide what is best.
The United States of America is engaged in a war against an extremist group of folks.
Families is where our nation finds hope; where wings take dream.
If you don‘t stand for anything, you don‘t stand for -- anything.
If you don‘t stand for something, you don‘t stand for anything.
Fool me once, shame on you—fool me—you can‘t get fooled again.
In my State of the—my State of the Union—my speech to the nation, whatever you want to call it.
At the high school level and find out that the literacy level of our children are appalling.
I hear there are rumors on the Internets that we are going have a draft.
You are working hard to put food on family.
I know the human being and fish can coexist peacefully.
Tribal sovereignty means that, it‘s sovereign. If you a—you‘re a -
you have been given sovereignty, and you are viewed as—a sovereign entity. And, therefore, the relationship between the federal government and tribes is one between sovereign entities.
They muster—mis-underestimated the compassion of our country. I think they mis-underestimated the will and the determination of the commander in chief, too.
(END VIDEO CLIP MONTAGE)
SCARBOROUGH: Sounds like me.
So, is the president intelligence? Do we need a brilliant president or just somebody who surrounds himself with the right people? Here to help us answer that question, Lawrence O‘Donnell, a political analyst; also John Fund, from OpinionJournal.com.
Now, John, this isn‘t just about Linda Ronstadt, I‘ve heard Republicans, and Democrats start saying this privately. Liberals and conservatives, heck, Frenchmen and friends alike, talk privately about George W. Bush, and they are saying what these music stars and rock stars are saying, that George Bush‘s lack of gravitas is hurting America at home and embarrassing us abroad. Is that a fair question to ask?
SCARBOROUGH: So, he just has a failure, he cannot communicate well.
That‘s what you‘re telling me?
FUND: Well, look Voltaire once said that common sense is both rare and a lot more important to successful leadership than intelligence. And I agree. Here‘s the thing, the author of “Bushisms”, Jacob Wiesberg (ph), who is the liberal editor of Slate.com, he has plowed through almost everything George Bush has ever said. He concluded that Bush has a linguistic deficit, and he said that‘s no sign that there is any lack of mental capacity there.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, there is not, but --
FUND: There are two different problems here. He‘s inarticulate, but he‘s not stupid. And I have to tell you, you know, our foreign policy may be in a little bit of trouble right now, but we are presiding over a nation with 4.8 percent unemployment and 2.5 percent inflation.
SCARBOROUGH: OK, you are talking about foreign policy, though. John, one of the president‘s former aids, who worked with the president on foreign policy, has been close with him for a long time, told me recently that he‘s intellectually shallow and one of the most incurious public figures this man had ever met. We hear that from congressmen. I hear from the senators.
FUND: Joe, let me tell you what I hear—
SCARBOROUGH: I from staff members, shouldn‘t that concern us?
FUND: Yes. Let me tell you two things that do concern me. Someone once told me a long time ago George Bush is a great guy, but the smirk is real. There is a smart aleck nature to him. I would say that while he‘s intelligent he is always imaginative. I wish there were a little bit more imagination and curiosity.
SCARBOROUGH: I agree with you. You know, we‘re not the only ones who‘ve noticed George Bush‘s blunders. Recently “The Daily Show” picked up on his obsession with food.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JON STEWART, THE DAILY SHOW: President Bush was overseas, in Germany, as events unfolded here is his press conference Chancellor Angela Merkel, in Germany, where he wasted no time addressing the many troubling developments.
BUSH: I‘m looking forward to feast you‘re going to have tonight. I understand I may have the honor of slicing the pig.
STEWART: I am just going to assume that is some kind of euphemism for solving the Middle East crisis.
BUSH: And I guess that is about all—we have discussed a lot of things in other words. And thank you for having me, looking forward to that pig tonight.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Does it concern you that the Beirut airport has been bombed? And do you see a risk of truly a wider war? And on Iran, they have so far refused to respond. Is it now past the deadline? Do they still have more time to respond?
BUSH: I thought you were going to ask about the pig.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: You know, Lawrence, Democrats and liberals love to talk about how stupid Ronald Reagan was; and then this book came out of Regan‘s letters and they changed their opinion overnight. Do you think the same thing could happen with George W. Bush?
LAWRENCE O‘DONNELL, POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, boy, this guy is so easy to make fun of. I mean, possibly, the easiest ever, at this point. The prejudice against Reagan, Joe, was almost entirely the fact that he was an actor. There was a presumption that he‘s dumb because he used to be an actor.
There was not any real overt evidence there. You could run this kind of set of clips on Ronald Reagan. You just didn‘t get this kind of gaff from him, in a consistent basis.
You know, I mean, John Fund wants to say the president is intelligent. I don‘t know the president. I don‘t know how you can make the judgment that he is intelligent without working very closely with him, because he doesn‘t make a lot of public exhibition of a dazzling intelligence. It just isn‘t there.
SCARBOROUGH: You know, Lawrence, it is interesting. If you look at clips of George Bush, though, when he was governor of Texas, he seemed so much more confident. He seemed so much more self-assured.
O‘DONNELL: I agree.
SCARBOROUGH: And it is almost like the more he stumbles over his tongue, the more he realizes that he‘s maybe overmatched by the English language, and it seems he is losing confidence, by the day. He is getting worse instead of better.
O‘DONNELL: It looks like he is overmatched by the job. It looks like he‘s overwhelmed by it and it is just out of his league, especially ever since Katrina. From Katrina onward, his imagery feeds a level of incompetence that is very unusual.
And so everything he does now, he is allowed no margin of error on these kinds of gaffs now, where as if he had had a bunch of real policy successes to point to, and if Iraq—look, if Iraq was a real policy success, that guy could fall down everywhere he went and he would be getting standing ovations.
SCARBOROUGH: And nobody is—
FUND: Joe, ultimately, we‘re having this conversation, because --
SCARBOROUGH: Wait, hold on one second. I want to ask you this, though, John. You can talk about that, but also talk about how Republicans, it seems like most Republican presidents, we just showed a shot of Gerald Ford. He was painted as a dunce. Ronald Reagan painted as a dunce.
SCARBOROUGH: I remember Eisenhower, hearing how stupid Eisenhower was, which, of course, the guy was about as shrewd and calculated as you could be. And now they‘re saying that about George Bush, but I think George Bush is in a league by himself. I don‘t think he has the intellectual depth, as these other people, but do we need that as a president?
FUND: I think we would be a lot better off criticizing the policies. I‘ve criticized many of the policies. But you know, let‘s put this into perspective. You mentioned all the Republicans what have developed a reputation for being dim witted. I just have a question.
Obviously, intelligence is not congregated on just one side of the political spectrum, can anyone name me a well-known Democrat, in modern history, who has ever developed a poplar media image as being stupid or dimwitted. You can‘t come up with one. They‘re aren‘t any. So, it‘s only Republicans who develop this dumb image. Some of them really are dumb. But some of them is just a substitute for argument, because you don‘t want to argue their policies so you dismiss them as being stupid. There are no Democrats who have this image.
SCARBOROUGH: This is a fascinating conversation. I would like to continue it later. Lawrence O‘Donnell, John Fund, thanks for being with me.
I just want to say one other thing. Sometimes you can have somebody like Michael Dukakis, that gets too far down in the weeds. And Jimmy Carter -- I remember hearing stories about Dukakis, reading Swedish land-use books while on vacations, or becoming so depressed after reading about SALT II treaties, that he basically had to go to bed for a couple of days. We don‘t want that either. But we do need a president who, I think, is intellectually curious. And that is a big question, whether George W. Bush has the intellectual curiousness—if that‘s a word—to continue leading this country over the next couple of years?