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Monday, 12 February, 2001, 15:27 GMT
Bush blunders become bestseller
George W Bush speaks at a school
Mr Bush's gaffes: Is poor education the cause?
George W Bush "for some reason speaks English as if it's a second language", says Jacob Weisberg.

Mr Weisberg should know. The journalist for the online magazine Slate has compiled a book of the tongue-tied president's gaffes, George W. Bushisms: The Slate Book of The Accidental Wit and Wisdom of our 43rd President.

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It includes such gems as: "Families is where our nation finds home, where wings take dream."

States' rights defenders should be pleased by: "States should have a right to enact reasonable laws and restrictions, particularly to end the inhumane practice of ending a life that otherwise could live."

The Bushism "I will have a foreign-handed foreign policy," on the other hand, is unlikely to reassure either US foes or allies.

Possible explanations

Mr Weisberg says there are a number of possible explanations for the new president's remarkable way with words.

He told BBC News Online: "Theories range from dyslexia to stupidity to lack of education to lack of sophistication."

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Mr Weisberg himself suspects "something akin to dyslexia", perhaps inherited from his father, George Bush Snr, who also had a tendency to trip over words.

Mr Weisberg also points to the president having had "one of the fanciest and most expensive, but least effective educations" available.

The president has a bachelor's degree from Yale and a business degree from Harvard Business School. His marks were average.

Not an intellectual

The Slate journalist also says Mr Bush does not have "much respect for the life of the mind.

"He's not a reader. He doesn't like intellectuals," Mr Weisberg said.

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But, he said, Mr Bush's verbal gaffes have not hurt him.

On the contrary, "he's benefited from being underestimated - or 'misunderestimated', as he says", Mr Weisberg says.

Or, as Mr Bush himself put it, "They have miscalculated me as a leader."

Americans do not mind thinking their leader is not terribly bright, Mr Weisberg added.

"People derive a certain satisfaction from feeling the president is a bit thick. It's a chance to feel superior", Mr Weisberg said.

No failure to communicate

The journalist also pointed out that Mr Bush is not completely incomprehensible.

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"Most of the time you have a rough idea of what he means. He's not failing to communicate," Mr Weisberg said.

The book, which was released around the time Mr Bush was inaugurated last month, is doing well. It is currently at number 52 on's bestseller list.

And the president continues to turn out several new Bushisms a week, keeping Mr Weisberg in business.

Perhaps he is merely taking advantage of an observation Mr Bush himself made in June: "There's not going to be enough people in the system to take advantage of people like me."

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