Thesaurus Rex: The President’s War on Words

By Sydney H. Schanberg

Village Voice, June 2, 2005

President Bush has always been quite open and a little sheepish about his difficulty with some multi-syallbic words, often “mangling” (his real word) them into new creations like “misunderestimate.” So he deserves points for his openness on this matter and for poking fun at his embarrassment about it. 

At a May 31 press conference in the Rose Garden, the president was answering a question about Iraq and prisoner abuse by American personnel. He said the world should keep in mind that the allegations were being made “by people who were held in detention, people who hate America, people that had been trained in some instances to disassemble — that means not tell the truth.” Obviously he meant “dissemble.”

But in many ways and to many people, this malapropism was not amusing. That’s because they know — and they know Bush knows — that he and his advisers told many untruths and wild exaggerations to get the American public to support his desire to invade Iraq. All White Houses tell lies from time to time. This White House turned the practice into a requirement for employment there.

Maybe the best thing the president can do is disassemble this lying machine.

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