Let me say publicly that DonBoy’s answer exudes a combination of intuitive genius and confidence that make me think DonBoy is going to do big things in his life. -- Steven D. Levitt (Freakonomics blog)
Tuesday, July 13, 2004
Coincidentally, just after the previous posting, I came across this at Language Log -- a reference to the James Fallows article in the non-online-Atlantic:
Recently I saw an amazing piece of political video. It was ten-year-old footage of George W. Bush, and it changed my mind about an important aspect of the upcoming campaign. [...]So Lakoff more or less agrees with the "big phony" argument, and Fallows is not so sure. Guess I'll have to go buy the Atlantic and get more detail.
...it was the hour in which Bush faced Ann Richards [in the debate during the 1994 Texas gubernatorial election] that I had to watch several times. The Bush on this tape was almost unrecognizable--and not just because he looked different from the figure we are accustomed to in the WHite House. He was younger, thinner, with much darker hair and a more eager yet less swaggering carriage than he has now. But the real difference was the way he sounded.
This Bush was eloquent. He spoke quickly and easily. He rattled off complicated sentences and brought them to the right grammatical conclusions. He mishandled a word or two ..., but fewer than most people would in an hour's debate. More striking, he did not pause before forcing out big words, as he so often does now, or invent mangled new ones. "To lay our my juvenile-justice plan in a minute and a half is a hard task, but I will try to do so," he said fluidly and with a smile midway through the debate, before beginning to list his principles. [...]
Obviously Bush doesn't sound this way as President, and there is no one conclusive explanation for the change. I have read and listened to speculations that there must be some organic basis for the President's peculiar mode of speech--a learning disability, a reading problem, dyslexia or some other disorder that makes him so uncomfortable when speaking off the cuff. The main problem with these theories is that through his forties Bush was perfectly articulate. [Linguist] George Lakoff tried to convince me that the change was intentional. As a way of showing deep-down NASCAR-type manliness, according to Lakoff, Bush has deliberately made himself sound as clipped and tough as John Wayne. ...
I say: Maybe. Clearly Bush has been content to let his opponents, including the press, think him a numbskull. ... But to me the more plausible overall explanation is the sheer change in scale from being governor of Texas to being President of the United States.