Thursday, January 09, 2020


I'm unlocking another newsletter episode of my Oval Office one-acts, this one based on the latest bizarrely out-of-it performance by our Commander in Chief in his Iran speech-thing.

It put me in mind of the previous Republican president. Bush Jr. was widely acknowledged to have been a clumsy speaker. I recall conservatives admitting this, notwithstanding they thought him right. (Peggy Noonan: "Mr. Bush continues to prove that he is not eloquent, and that he does not have to be. People need a plain speaker who'll tell them what he thinks and why.") Eventually, because in our self-referential culture everything has to be endlessly revisited, we had post-presidential arguments over whether or not Bush was dumb. (I would say that he was certainly cunning enough to become president, but not particularly good at -- perhaps because he wasn't interested in -- the ideological and practical details of governance).

But Bush seemed alert and at least emulated the structures of coherent speech. Now we have a president who is not only ineloquent but expresses himself like a brain damage victim, and his supporters pretend not to notice. If audio-visual equipment survives the coming apocalypse, people are going to marvel at that sudden fall-off in basic standards and wonder if there was a gas leak across the entire country.

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