By now everyone is familiar with President Bush's struggles with public speaking and the English language.
Some may even have favorites.
Here's mine: "Rarely is the question asked: Is our children learning?"
A good friend of mine, Kathy Prater, handed me a list of “Bushisms” last week and provided me with a much needed laugh. But when the laughing was done, I found myself only concerned. Concerned that we might be responding to this in a way that is doing nothing to point a finger at the leader of our nation that says, “This is unacceptable. You are unacceptable.”
Our response is similar to the mother who's disruptive child gets only a shake of the head and a sigh. “That's just Johnny being Johnny,” the mother says, and watches her little demon punch holes in the wall.
That disruptive kid who is allowed to skate by on that old standby comment will often go on to be a delinquent troublemaker and, many times, a restless resident of our nation's crowded prisons.
George W. Bush is a graduate of Yale University and says things like this: "I know how hard it is for you to put food on your family."
He is the former Governor of Texas and tosses out gems such as this one: "They misunderestimated me."
George W. Bush is President of the United States and recognized leader of the free world, and spouts phrases as tortured as this: "Families is where our nation finds hope, where wings take dream."
I fear we may just be accepting President Bush's clear problems with the spoken word in much the same way we just accepted Gerald Ford's tendency to go belly up when stepping out of an airplane or when standing too close to the curtains in the Oval Office.
The thing to remember is that President Ford was clumsy. Accepting what is essentially a physical shortcoming is what equality is all about. It's down right American. Clumsiness does not keep a person from graduating from an Ivy League school or governing a state or becoming President of the United States. We have no cause for concern if our president isn't the best Jenga player in the world or couldn't dribble a basketball from one side of the Oval Office to the other. Big deal.
Saying things like, "Don't buy gas if you don't need it," is a huge deal. Was President Bush addressing that small community of Americans who compulsively buy gasoline for absolutely no reason at all?
And then some of these "Bushisms" can just get scary, such as this one blurted out during a talk in New York last year: "See, in my line of work you got to keep repeating things over and over and over again for the truth to sink in, to kind of catapult the propaganda."
Let's give it a try.