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MARCH 12, 2004

AFFAIRS OF STATE
By Stan Crock


"Analyzating" Bush's Grey Matter
The President's tendency to mangle words and syntax may be due to an undiagnosed language and hearing disability, say some experts
Ever wonder why President Bush says "nuculer" when he means "nuclear" or "subliminate" when he means "subliminal?" Or why he mixes up perseverance and preservation? Why does he mangle the English language often enough for Slate Editor Jacob Weisberg to produce three books of Bushisms such as "I know how hard it is for you to put food on your family."

Are you still puzzled that Bush:
• Was a "C" student and class clown, yet became President?
• Doles out odd nicknames with abandon?
• Has held only 12 Presidential news conferences, the lowest frequency for a President since Richard Nixon's scandal-plagued second term?
• Chose to go one-on-one with Meet the Press's Tim Russert, one of the roughest interviewers in the business during one of the toughest times in his Presidency?
• Stunned former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill by barely responding in their first hour-long briefing at the White House?
• Doesn't "do nuance," as the President himself puts it?

"SUBTLE DISORDER." To some learning-disability experts, the signs are clear: Bush might want to pay them a visit. These experts haven't tested the President, so they caution that they can't be certain of the diagnosis. Yet, ample signs indicate that something unusual is going on in the left side of his brain, where language and hearing are processed.

The possibility is high that there's some dysfunction in the way he hears words, the way he processes what he hears, or the way he retrieves words when he tries to speak. When someone uses the wrong word or malapropisms and has difficulty with grammatical sentences, experts on learning disabilities "typically suspect at least a subtle language disorder," says William Stixrud, a clinical neuropsychologist in Silver Spring, Md.

Some voters infer from Bush's syntax and behavior that he isn't the sharpest saw in the tool box. Yet, learning and processing disorders aren't indicators of native intelligence. If anything, a learning disability would better explain how Bush has accomplished so much, with his critics underestimating him every step of the way.

ALL IN THE FAMILY? Those with learning disabilities can become stellar achievers precisely because they develop compensating mechanisms to overcome their syndromes -- often using their own intuition and smarts. The SchwabLearning.org Web site, which bills itself as a guide for parents of learning-impaired kids, lists more than 50 luminaries with disabilities, including athletes Bruce Jenner and Magic Johnson, actors Henry Winkler and Whoopi Goldberg, and business executives Richard Branson and Charles Schwab.

Such disorders often are genetic, and the Bush family has a history of them -- Bush's brother, Neil, has been diagnosed with dyslexia. Bush's other brother, Marvin, has a son in a Washington school for children with learning disabilities. Perhaps as a result, the President's mother and First Lady Laura Bush have both been big advocates of improving reading skills.

Journalists have tried in the past to explain Bush's peculiar speech and processing patterns. In May, 2000, Dana Milbank of the Washington Post suggested that Bush's speech patterns reflect the patois in Midland, Tex., which Eastern elites disdain. Maybe it was something he learned or inherited from his dad, for whom uttering a complete, syntactically correct sentence often was a challenge.

Another possibility Milbank cited, which was suggested by a Bush aide: The President's agile brain works faster than his mouth. Milbank also quoted an expert who opined that the symptoms resemble apraxia, an inability to position the lips, jaw, and tongue properly when speaking. In a Bush profile in the October, 2000, Vanity Fair, Gail Sheehy postulated that Bush, like his brother, has dyslexia, which is commonly seen as a reading disability.

DIGGING DEEPER. Weisberg says in the introduction to his first volume of Bushisms that he doesn't buy these theories. He notes, as Milbank did, that apraxia usually produces shortened words, while Bush sometimes elongates them, as when he says "analyzation" instead of analysis. And if Bush had dyslexia, he wouldn't be able to read a TelePrompTer so well, Weisberg postulates. But with sufficient practice, someone with the disorder could read a speech adequately, says Kathy Hosty, a Washington, D.C., speech-language pathologist.

Bush has denied in the past that he has dyslexia. Asked for this column if the President has a language disorder, White House spokeswoman Claire Buchan dismissed the idea, without flatly denying it. She told BusinessWeek Online Bush's medical records have been scrutinized for 15 years. "The American people know more about the President's health than just about anyone's," she added.

I started to look for a more satisfactory explanation for Bush's demeanor for several reasons. Frankly, I've long been mystified by the way Bush expresses himself off-the-cuff. Secondly, the President's way of expressing himself clearly throws foreigners, especially diplomats, for a loop. They're appalled, since they view his mastery of language as critical to persuading others of the correctness of America's course in world affairs. A third reason is that a friend of mine has a son who doctors suspect has something called central auditory processing disorder (CAPD). My friend says whenever she sees the President, she sees her son's traits.

"OTHER KINDS OF INTELLIGENCE." That led me to do some Web research and talk to some experts on the subject to see what they think. I'm no doctor. I'm a journalist. But it turns out there's an intriguing consensus afoot, and I'm here to report it.

According to an article on the Internet by Judith W. Paton, a San Mateo (Calif.) audiologist, CAPD is a physical hearing impairment that doesn't show up as hearing loss but rather affects hearing beyond the ear. In effect, the auditory nerves don't handle the raw data from the ear properly. It's usually found with a cluster of other symptoms. Among the tell-tale signs she cites: Confusion of similar sounding words, terse communications, better hearing when watching the speaker, and trouble hearing when it's noisy.

This syndrome, like dyslexia, probably wouldn't have been diagnosed when Bush was growing up. It could explain why, undiagnosed, he was a lackluster student, Paton said in an interview. "A lot of his IQ points were in political intelligence and other kinds of intelligence," she notes.

A CLOWN'S MASK. CAPD isn't recognized as a formal diagnosis yet, partly because not enough research has been done on it. "It's a pattern of deficits that has been described by a large body of clinicians, but it hasn't undergone the rigors of scientific verification," says Fresno (Calif.) neuropsychologist Howard Glidden. Some experts also consider it a vague, umbrella term for a lot of traits.

What all the experts seem to agree on is that Bush exhibits "phonological" problems, that is, he has trouble breaking apart and putting together the discrete sounds that make up words. That could explain why the President tortures the language so often. And his clowning around could have been a way to compensate.

Such a syndrome also could explain other characteristics. The nicknames -- he dubbed ex-Treasury Secretary O'Neill "Pablo", for example -- could be a device to help with name retrieval. The infrequency of news conferences could reflect the difficulty someone with CAPD would have in a press-conference setting. While it would be possible to bone up for a quieter one-on-one grilling by Tim Russert, the noise and distractions of a news conference would make the kind of focus Bush may need very difficult. "A news conference would be his worst nightmare," says Hosty. "You can't control the barrage of different communications styles."

ONE OF THE GUYS. Bush's penchant for talking about good and evil and for saying countries are either with us or against us in the war on terrorism may also reflect a learning disorder. His professed distaste for nuance could stem from an inability to process the complex sides of an issue. "To analyze that, you have to analyze the language," says Bonnie Rattner, a speech and language pathologist in San Mateo, Calif.

One solution: Hire good people to fill the gaps. A business executive with great vision and creativity may not be organized, so the exec would have to employ someone with good executive functions, notes Robert L. Mapou, a Silver Spring (Md.) Ph.D. in clinical psychology who specializes in the neuropsychology of adult learning disabilities.

Yes, all of these examples of Bush's behavior have alternate explanations. A lack of focus during a privileged upbringing could explain the President's grades in college. The nicknames could be an attempt to control relationships or be one of the guys. The infrequent press conferences could result from the Administration's penchant for secretiveness and general disdain for the media.

COHERENT APPROACH. Likewise, Bush's black-and-white approach can be seen as moral clarity stemming from his religious beliefs or the candor supporters argue is needed relief from diplomatic niceties in perilous times.

All these separate explanations are plausible -- but taken together, they present quite a coincidence. The language-disorder explanation would cover them all. And if it's right, it should give pause to late-night comedians Jay Leno, David Letterman, and Jon Stewart. The President's twisting of the English language may be a phenomenon that's far more complicated than comic.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Crock covers national security and foreign affairs for BusinessWeek from Washington. Follow his views in Affairs of State twice a month, only on BusinessWeek Online
Edited by Douglas Harbrecht
 

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I tellya, its the axes of evil that are to blame for all our problems. soddum insane was just the first that we went after.
 

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still, quayle was MUCH better for comedy material than bush.

god, that guy was a comedian's dream ;)

I guess ford was the one who tripped a lot, and bush2 is the guy who can't announciate [grin]
 

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"What a waste it is to lose one's mind. Or not to have a mind is being very wasteful. How true that is."

-quayle
 

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Dan Quayle Quotes


A low voter turnout is an indication of fewer people going to the polls.
Dan Quayle

Bobby Knight told me this: 'There is nothing that a good defense cannot beat a better offense.' In other words a good offense wins.
Dan Quayle

El Salvador is a democracy so it's not surprising that there are many voices to be heard here. Yet in my conversations with Salvadorans... I have heard a single voice.
Dan Quayle

Every once in a while, you let a word or phrase out and you want to catch it and bring it back. You can't do that. It's gone, gone forever.
Dan Quayle

For NASA, space is still a high priority.
Dan Quayle

Great American sport. Horseshoes is a very great game. I love it.
Dan Quayle

Hawaii has always been a very pivotal role in the Pacific. It is in the Pacific. It is a part of the United States that is an island that is right here.
Dan Quayle

Hawaii is a unique state. It is a small state. It is a state that is by itself. It is a -it is different from the other 49 states. Well, all states are different, but it's got a particularly unique situation.
Dan Quayle

I am confident that the Republican Party will pick a nominee that will beat Bill Clinton.
Dan Quayle

I am not part of the problem. I am a Republican.
Dan Quayle

I am not the problem. I am a Republican.
Dan Quayle

I believe we are on an irreversible trend toward more freedom and democracy - but that could change.
Dan Quayle

I can identify with steelworkers. I can identify with workers that have had a difficult time.
Dan Quayle

I couldn't help but be impressed by the magnitude of the earthquake.
Dan Quayle

I deserve respect for the things I did not do.
Dan Quayle

I do have a political agenda. It's to have as few regulations as possible.
Dan Quayle

I don't watch it, but I know enough to comment on it.
Dan Quayle

I happen to be a Republican president - ah, the vice president.
Dan Quayle

I have a very good family. I'm very fortunate to have a very good family. I believe very strongly in the family. It's one of the things we have in our platform, is to talk about it.
Dan Quayle

I have made good judgements in the past. I have made good judgements in the future.
Dan Quayle

I just don't believe in the basic concept that someone should make their whole career in public service.
Dan Quayle

I love California, I practically grew up in Phoenix.
Dan Quayle

I spend a great deal of time with the President. We have a very close, personal, loyal relationship. I'm not, as they say, a potted plant in these meetings.
Dan Quayle

I stand by all the misstatements that I've made.
Dan Quayle

I understand the importance of bondage between parent and child.
Dan Quayle

I want to be Robin to Bush's Batman.
Dan Quayle

I was known as the chief grave robber of my state.
Dan Quayle

I was recently on a tour of Latin America,and the only regret I have was that I didn't study Latin harder in school so I could converse with those people.
Dan Quayle

I'm going to be a vice president very much like George Bush was. He proved to be a very effective vice president, perhaps the most effective we've had in a couple of hundred years.
Dan Quayle

I've never professed to be anything but an average student.
Dan Quayle

If Al Gore invented the Internet, I invented spell check.
Dan Quayle

If we do not succeed, then we run the risk of failure.
Dan Quayle

If you give a person a fish, they'll fish for a day. But if you train a person to fish, they'll fish for a lifetime.
Dan Quayle

Illegitimacy is something we should talk about in terms of not having it.
Dan Quayle

In George Bush you get experience, and with me you get - The Future!
Dan Quayle

It is wonderful to be here in the great state of Chicago.
Dan Quayle

It isn't pollution that's harming the environment. It's the impurities in our air and water that are doing it.
Dan Quayle

It shows `us vs. them,' and I'm on the `us' side.
Dan Quayle

It's a question of whether we're going to go forward into the future, or past to the back.
Dan Quayle

It's a very good historical book about history.
Dan Quayle

It's rural America. It's where I came from. We always refer to ourselves as real America. Rural America, real America, real, real, America.
Dan Quayle

It's time for the human race to enter the solar system.
Dan Quayle

It's wonderful to be here in the great state of Chicago.
Dan Quayle

Japan is an important ally of ours. Japan and the United States of the Western industrialized capacity, 60 percent of the GNP, two countries. That's a statement in and of itself.
Dan Quayle

Let me just be very clear that the Republican Party will select a nominee that will beat Bill Clinton.
Dan Quayle

Let me just tell you how thrilling it really is, and how, what a challenge it is, because in 1988 the question is whether we're going forward to tomorrow or whether we're going to go past to the - to the back!
Dan Quayle

Lookit, I've done it their way this far and now it's my turn. I'm my own handler. Any questions? Ask me... There's not going to be any more handler stories because I'm the handler... I'm Doctor Spin.
Dan Quayle

Mars is essentially in the same orbit... Mars is somewhat the same distance from the Sun, which is very important. We have seen pictures where there are canals, we believe, and water. If there is water, that means there is oxygen. If oxygen, that means we can breathe.
Dan Quayle

Murphy Brown is doing better than I am. At least she knows she still has a job next year.
Dan Quayle

My friends, no matter how rough the road may be, we can and we will, never, never surrender to what is right.
Dan Quayle

One word sums up probably the responsibility of any vice president, and that one word is 'to be prepared'.
Dan Quayle

People that are really very weird can get into sensitive positions and have a tremendous impact on history.
Dan Quayle

People who bowl vote. Bowlers are not the cultural elite.
Dan Quayle

Quite frankly, teachers are the only profession that teach our children.
Dan Quayle

Republicans have been accused of abandoning the poor. It's the other way around. They never vote for us.
Dan Quayle

Republicans understand the importance of bondage between a mother and child.
Dan Quayle

Sometimes cameras and television are good to people and sometimes they aren't. I don't know if its the way you say it, or how you look.
Dan Quayle

The American people would not want to know of any misquotes that Dan Quayle may or may not make.
Dan Quayle

The destruction, it is just very heart-rendering.
Dan Quayle

The future will be better tomorrow.
Dan Quayle

The Holocaust was an obscene period in our nation's history. I mean in this century's history. But we all lived in this century. I didn't live in this century.
Dan Quayle

The loss of life will be irreplaceable.
Dan Quayle

The other day [the President] said, I know you've had some rough times, and I want to do something that will show the nation what faith that I have in you, in your maturity and sense of responsibility. (He paused, then said) Would you like a puppy?
Dan Quayle

The President is going to benefit from me reporting directly to him when I arrive.
Dan Quayle

The thing is, if you control the Senate meetings, you control the gavel. And the gavel is a very important instrument... an instrument of power. An instrument that establishes the agenda.
Dan Quayle

The US has a vital interest in that area of the country [Latin America].
Dan Quayle

They need help, and we have helped, and we are here to help. And we are helping, and we're going to continue to help.
Dan Quayle

This election is about who's going to be the next President of the United States!
Dan Quayle

This President is going to lead us out of this recovery.
Dan Quayle

Unfortunately, the people of Louisiana are not racists.
Dan Quayle

Verbosity leads to unclear, inarticulate things.
Dan Quayle

Votes are like trees, if you are trying to build a forest. If you have more trees than you have forests, then at that point the pollsters will probably say you will win.
Dan Quayle

We are ready for any unforeseen event that may or may not occur.
Dan Quayle

We don't want to go back to tomorrow, we want to go forward.
Dan Quayle

We expect the Salvadorean officials to work towards the extremination of human rights.
Dan Quayle

We have a firm commitment to NATO, we are a part of NATO. We have a firm commitment to Europe. We are a part of Europe.
Dan Quayle

We have to do more than just elect a new President if we truly want to change this country.
Dan Quayle

We should develop anti-satellite weapons because we could not have prevailed without them in `Red Storm Rising'.
Dan Quayle

We shouldn't have to be burdened with all the technicalities that come up from time to time with shrewd, smart lawyers interpreting what the laws or what the Constitution may or may not say.
Dan Quayle

We will invest in our people, quality education, job opportunity, family, neighborhood, and yes, a thing we call America.
Dan Quayle

We will move forward, we will move upward, and yes, we will move onward.
Dan Quayle

We're all capable of mistakes, but I do not care to enlighten you on the mistakes we may or may not have made.
Dan Quayle

We're going to have the best-educated American people in the world.
Dan Quayle

Welcome to President Bush, Mrs. Bush, and my fellow astronauts.
Dan Quayle

What a terrible thing to have lost one's mind. Or not to have a mind at all. How true that is.
Dan Quayle

What a waste it is to lose one's mind. Or not to have a mind is being very wasteful. How true that is.
Dan Quayle

What you guys want, I'm for.
Dan Quayle

When I have been asked during these last weeks who caused the riots and the killing in L.A., my answer has been direct and simple: Who is to blame for the riots? The rioters are to blame. Who is to blame for the killings? The killers are to blame.
Dan Quayle

When I talked to him on the phone yesterday. I called him George rather than Mr. Vice President. But, in public, it's Mr. Vice President, because that is who he is.
Dan Quayle

When you make as many speeches and you talk as much as I do and you get away from the text, it's always a possibility to get a few words tangled here and there.
Dan Quayle

You all look like happy campers to me. Happy campers you are, happy campers you have been, and, as far as I am concerned, happy campers you will always be.
Dan Quayle

You have a part-time job and that's better than no job at all.
Dan Quayle
 

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If you give a person a fish, they'll fish for a day. But if you train a person to fish, they'll fish for a lifetime.
Dan Quayle
sounds an aweful lot like:

if you build a man a fire, he'll be warm for a day. if you set him on fire, he'll be warm for the rest of his life

;) ;)
 

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Didn't George Bush have a higher GPA at Yale than Al Gore did at Princeton who everybody thinks is a genious?
 

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bush's grades were very very average. class clown and C level grades.

just what we need to run the free world...
 

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I had actually wondered before if he had some learning disability before. I guess I figured if he'd had one, someone would have told us.

I also suppose Bush's low intelligence is just a coincidence, since the story clearly states there is no firm link between LD's and being a boorish cowboy dumbass.
 

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not_too_shabby said:
Didn't George Bush have a higher GPA at Yale than Al Gore did at Princeton who everybody thinks is a genious?
Everybody? I think he's an idiot, but it doesn't change the fact that the Bushism are dunny.
 

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linux-works said:
bush's grades were very very average. class clown and C level grades.

just what we need to run the free world...
It's a proven fact that A students make the best employees because they follow rules and regulations better. The C students are better managers/leaders because they surround themselves with competent people.

C students are some of the top leaders around. :wink:

I would locate the study I read about this, but I'm too lazy to look for it and none of my subordinates are here to find it for me. :lol:
 

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Johnny B5.5 said:
The C students are better managers/leaders because they surround themselves with competent people.
reminds me of a bush joke:

"bush isn't very smart, so he surrounds himself with smart people.
much like the way a hole surrounds itself with a donut."

;)
 

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Carlos Spicyweiner
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linux-works said:
Johnny B5.5 said:
The C students are better managers/leaders because they surround themselves with competent people.
reminds me of a bush joke:

"bush isn't very smart, so he surrounds himself with smart people.
much like the way a hole surrounds itself with a donut."

;)
HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:

I love it!
 
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