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Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Mrs. Malaprop Stikes George Down Again

Yesterday I was half-listening to the TV news when I heard President Bush say
"Conditions change inside a country," he said. "And the question is, are we going to be facile enough to change with - will we be nimble enough - will we be able to deal with the circumstances on the ground? And the answer is, yes, we will."
I owe the exact language to the San Jose Mercury News. I was a bit taken aback by our President's use of language. I have already blogged on his infamous propensity to engage in malapropisms where I discussed a variety of explanations that have been given and won't repeat that exercise. What is remarkable is that he used the quite inappropriate word "facile," switched to "nimble," which is better, but apparently unhappy with his first two efforts went with the simplest way of forming the lie he wanted to tell.

I am inclined to believe George was told what to say by Rummy or Cheney or Rove or some general, telling him that we we must be nimble in how we adapt to changing circtumstances in dealing with what is, to say the very least, a very elusive enemy in Iraq. It is not so different from the the enemy in Vietnam, an enemy we couldn't defeat. My guess is they gave him "nimble" to work with and he slipped up and put in "facile" and things went South from there. One theory that I may not have discussed in the earlier referenced blog is that George simply doesn't know a lot of words and isn't sure how to use his more recently acquired ones.

Clearly, George did not anticipate how events would proceed in Iraq when he made the ill-fated decision to invade. He was doubtless in the throes of a testosterone rush when he made that decision. Were that not true, there would have been sufficient blood flow in his brain to have prepared a more facile -- whoops, I mean nimble post-war plan. So, we will lose in Iraq. A fundamentalist Shiite state will be created in the regions not created by the Kurds (unless the Shiites are stupid enough to go after them), as was fully predictable by anyone with a modicum of understanding of the demographics of Iraq and how Muslims view Westerners.

Bush's nimble policy won't change anything. As Shimon Peres said in a CNN interview yesterday, Hezbollah has no uniforms, does not maintain a headquarters unit, does not try to maintain a front line and hides its rockets in people's homes, which makes it difficult to fight them, much less fight them without killing civilians. He also claimed that 10,000 civilians were killed by the Allied bombing raids in Kosovo so by that standard the Israelis are doing pretty well -- or, at least, were doing well before they killed UN Observers. That will give Israel's political enemies grist for their mills, probably enough for the Euros to demand a cease fire.

The fact is that Israel cannot defeat Hezbollah and we can't defeat whoever the hell it is we are fighting in Iraq -- is it the insurgents, the Sunni militias, or the Shiite militias or all three? I doubt that Bush knows. We couldn't defeat our nimble enemies in Vietnam, and couldn't defeat the nimble Sandinistas with our proxy Contra Army. One could go back in time to the Revolutionary War where we used a nimble guerrilla-style method of defeating the Brits. Indeed, I think we may have invented guerrilla war. But we didn't learn anything from our victory if the Vietnam and Iraq wars are any measure of the wisdom we have acquired from history -- in this case our own.

So, we are left with a facile President. I am embarrassed by the man.


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22 Comments:

Blogger Kelly said...

I like your repeated use of the President's first name. It makes it sound like you know him personally. Very much giving me the warm fuzzies.

10:02 AM

 
Anonymous Steve said...

I found this by googling "define: facile"

"S: (adj) facile (performing adroitly and without effort) 'a facile hand'"

It comes from Princeton's wordnet site. The key is that in, at least colloquial, use or understanding, facile is related to adroit. I must admit that I have always had this (mis?)understanding. So, our dear President's internal lexical processor converted nimble to adroit and spit out facile. Mind you, I'm in very few ways a fan of George Bush, and I'm not nominating him for any language awards, but I can see where his gaff derived.

BTW: I love your site and insights.

12:24 PM

 
Blogger Language Guy said...

The Webster On-line dictionary has the definition
1 a (1) : easily accomplished or attained [a facile victory] (2) : SHALLOW, SIMPLISTIC [I am not concerned...with offering any facile solution for so complex a problem -- T. S. Eliot] b : used or comprehended with ease c : readily manifested and often lacking sincerity or depth [facile tears]

Naturally, I went with "shallow" and "simplistic," which reflects George's Iraq policy and his thinking generally. He is a disgrace.

2:15 PM

 
Anonymous Steve said...

When GW embarked, or rather, when he heroically ordered our troops to embark, upon the Iraq mission, I believe he had the correct definition in mind when he assumed it would be facile.

4:01 PM

 
Blogger SusieQ said...

LG, if Israel can't defeat Hezbollah, what is going to happen to Israel? Hezbollah and others (Iran) have been very vocal about getting rid of Israel altogether.

If you were in charge, what would you do?

11:19 PM

 
Blogger Language Guy said...

SusieQ, some problems are unsolvable. Israel is totally committed to staying where they are currently located foreover and Hezbollah and Hamas are committed to killing all Israelis who won't leave. This is why I call the current "dust up" another day in Groundhog Day. It won't over until it's over, as Yogi would say. How that is going to happen I do not know.

7:49 AM

 
Blogger stephen clark said...

While it may be the case that George's attempts to clarify his point over a number of attempts exposes a secret sub-text. Is it not also possible that that sort of critique is just a little harsh?
I am a person who does quite a lot of public speaking and sometimes I'm tired, and I just stuff it up. I look with horror at how badly I express myself on occasion.
I just wonder how a person of limited intellect can find it possible to perform hour after hour day after day.
How much sleep does he get each day?
If you are weak linguistically to start with, surely some times you must be so stuffed that you just get it wrong.

8:30 PM

 
Blogger SusieQ said...

Wasn't it Yogi who said, "If you come to a fork in the road, take it." ??? Ha!

11:42 PM

 
Anonymous DonDraper said...

I assumed he meant "agile", since they sound similar and he then went for "nimble" instead. I also go with the theory that he makes such frequent malapropisms due to using unfamiliar words. He's been getting steadily better over the years at it, so I assume it's because of all the practice.

12:49 AM

 
Blogger IbaDaiRon said...

He's a man of action, dammit, not a man of words!

:)


If you were in charge, what would you do?

Nuke them all and let God sift through the ashes!

(But then, I've been in a pissy mood all day.)

12:16 PM

 
Blogger Kelly said...

You know, Ibad, that was my exact response when I first heard that fighting had again broken out in the Middle East. It seems they're all being unreasonable and, to borrow a phrase from divorce law, there are irreconcilable differences. It seems almost inevitable that one side or the other is going to get almost completely exterminated.

Perhaps that's why Japanese culture evolved to include the practice of seppuku, so that the losing side in a war is eradicated and bad blood is not allowed to fester. That way you don't have perpetual war.

12:36 PM

 
Blogger Kelly said...

BTW, Language Guy, (completely unrelated question) do you ever get any hits from the Technorati tags? I started doing those on my photoblog earlier this week and I don't think they're doing any good. At least not so far.

12:39 PM

 
Blogger Language Guy said...

Yes, I have sometimes traced references back through technorati. Unlike Dr. Taoist, most are favorable references. I wonder if he is a Ph.D. or M.D. with the last name of Taoist or he is one of those soft-headed peace and flowers dude like I used to be in my hippie days. His web sites suggest that.

I keep running into the idea that war never solves anything but that is so false. It solved the hell out of the German occupation of Europe and the Japanese occupation of Asia problem. Most wars are pretty stupid and have much murkier beginnings than one knows about at the time. I didn't realize for instancew (assuming its true), that Hamas was lobbing rockets into Israeli cities before they nabbed the the one and killed a couple of other soldiers. Israel put an end to the rockets. They are definitely not "eye for an eye" or "measured response" dudes. I think they learned something from the Hollocaust.

2:58 PM

 
Blogger Nykki said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

6:51 PM

 
Blogger Nykki said...

When I looked at the definition on line through M-W for facile. I read the example that was to give insight for the definition,” I am not concerned...with offering any facile solution for so complex a problem.” Which caused me to wonder (maybe this has been brought up), is Bush going to give a non-in-depth solution to this problem like he did when his "personal" conversation was” overheard" a few days ago?
If so what will be the point for his administration to "be nimble enough” or ask “we be able to deal with the circumstances on the ground” if the response is “lacking sincerity or depth”
I mean why would America need to rush into another “mission” if the game plan is lacking? And the answer is should be, no, we will not because America will be running over to stop two countries from fighting like a parent stopping two children from quarrelling.( which leaves the parent more frustrated and the two children upset that someone came to interfered)
In the end it would make more sense to come up with an end all solution instead of blindly running over to help which could cause more problems.
T.S Elliot had a point when he made his quote and it is very applicable to Bush in this circumstance.

6:54 PM

 
Blogger Language Guy said...

In fairness to Bush (probably a first for me), Nykki, I suspect that no administration has a plan for all contingencies in the Middle East. I can't say that any recent President has had an overarching foreign policy -- some set of principles that guides its responses to problems.

Bush did identify his Axis of Evil and he has tried to "take out" one of the members, Iraq, and since Hezbollah is funded by Iran, or so we are told, they would presumably be seen as extensions of Iran. Bush can't do anything to Iran but he can do something to its client by letting Israel try to destroy them. I think that is what he is doing. Rice's actions over there are, I suspsect, pure theater intended to make it seem that we are trying to do the right thing. She's probably smart enough to do that job well.

Do not look for any "nuanced" complex analysis of the world from George. You will be wasting your time.

7:08 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The shallowness of thought exhibited by the the author of this blog is represented by it's title. The author cannot even take the time to edit his own title let alone make relevant comments upon complex geo-political matters.

It is a shame that those that are far outclassed by the the intelligence of Dr. Rice are reduced to throwing ineffective and chidlike insults towards her. Professional jealosies seem to be matter of normal business among those that consider themselves among the elite intelligensia. It is laughable to those of us that actually understand the concepts being discussed here.

10:59 PM

 
Blogger Language Guy said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

5:34 AM

 
Blogger Language Guy said...

I made a mess out of my response. My computer slows down as time passes -- in the old day this was due to programs not releasing memory when exited. I have no idea why mine does but it makes writing nearly impossible and editing even harder. So, I again reply to the previous comment.

This is a totally anonymous blog that could be called a "hit and run" job. From this time forward, totally anonymous blogs will be deleted. If people don't have the courage even to adopt a moniker then they don't belong here or anywhere else.

12:47 PM

 
Anonymous pf said...

Let me reply to our anonymous blogger too. I'm not sure if you are the same that called me a whiner, but who cares anyway? Not me.

I'm not exactly the smartest one here, nor do I claim to be. But, after seeing what's available in the blogosphere world. I find it refreshing that there is a blog like this one. I'm so tired of the republican agenda being shoved down my throat via what you call the "liberal" media. It's good to have a place to go to that doesn't discuss issues from the republican point of view. Sure, republicans are free to argue. Most leave in disgust eventually. All of them (except for Kelly), from what I've seen, like to throw insults around. You see, I've heard just about everything you republicans have to say. Politically, I just don't like your way of thinking. Democrats piss me off too but at least they aren't offensive to me. You are.

Speaking of offensive, Dr. Rice, as you so lovingly call her, is no expert at complex geo-political matters either. Ever heard of Kyoto? Didn't think so. Let me see, instead of sticking her head up the ass of the Middle East, why don't you ask her to address the issue of global warming or something like that?

7:48 PM

 
Blogger IbaDaiRon said...

(Hmm...let's see...who do we know that's a rabid Rice supporter and not welcome to post under their own name here any longer? Just my suspicion. Although the lack of spelling mistakes gives me paws. Woof woof. :)

9:35 PM

 
Blogger Kelly said...

"I keep running into the idea that war never solves anything but that is so false. It solved the hell out of the German occupation of Europe and the Japanese occupation of Asia problem."

LG, this kind of clarity and no-bullshit attitude is rare indeed. Hard to believe you claim you were once a hippie.

10:18 AM

 

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