There are several questions I'd love for some intrepid reporter to ask President Bush at one of his press conferences. They might seem like trivial questions, but I don't think they are. These questions are:
Why, after being president of the United States for over seven years, do you still mispronounce "nuclear" by saying "nucular"? After all this time, do you still not know the proper pronunciation of this extremely important word, or do you know it but choose to go on mispronouncing it on purpose? If you still don't know how to pronounce it, why is that? If you DO know how to pronounce it but deliberately mispronounce it anyway, why do you do THAT? What do you think it says about the president of the world's military and economic superpower that he still mispronounces "nuclear" after more than seven years in office?
If a reporter from a major media source were to ask President Bush such questions, I'm quite sure it would be the last questions he or she ever asked a president or anyone else as a prominent reporter, Helen Thomas possibly excepted. But what a great way to go out in style!
I'm surprised that somebody somewhere hasn't asked President Bush these things, or, at least, that the public hasn't made a bigger deal of his persistent mispronunciation than it has. When people do talk about it, they tend to treat is as some kind of amusing joke. But is it a joking matter?
If President Bush REALLY doesn't know how to pronounce "nuclear" after all these years as president and after all the comic impressions of him mispronouncing it, what DOES this say about him? Does it say that he's stupid? Some might say so. But one can have cognitive deficits in some areas without being globally stupid. Perhaps President Bush, despite his Yale MBA, is linguistically or verbally challenged in some respects but not intellectually deficient overall. Yet, how verbally challenged would one have to be to occupy President Bush's position on the world stage and not know how to pronounce "nuclear" after all this time? It seems to me that someone THAT verbally challenged has no business being president (or possessing a Yale MBA).
However, as much as I think that George Bush has no business being president, I don't think he's THAT verbally challenged. I think that he's almost certainly aware of his mispronunciation but chooses to keep doing it anyway. Now why would he do this? I'm not a psychologist and don't even play one on this blog, but I'm nevertheless going to take the liberty of offering a layman's hypothesis of my own.
President Bush believes that being a real man means never having to admit that you're wrong. That is, admitting or doing anything to acknowledge that you're wrong is a sign of weakness, and real men aren't weak and must avoid appearing so at all costs. They "stay the course" even when they're wrong, and even when they know they're wrong, whether they're wrong in their pronunciation of "nuclear" or about our invading and staying in Iraq.
Of course, I don't think President Bush believes that our involvement with Iraq is wrong. But because he seems to believe that real men stick with what they start no matter what, he won't even allow himself to entertain for one nanosecond the possibility that our involvement in Iraq was and is a terrible mistake. Real men don't do such things, even if it maims and kills thousands and costs trillions to keep on doing what we're doing.
All I can say is that if THIS is what it means to be a real man, God help us if we have any more real men occupying the White House in these perilous times! If nothing else, it looks as though we can at least be assured that our next president will pronounce "nuclear" properly and maybe, just maybe this is a sign of better things to come.
Genius of Jazz - Wynton Marsalis is an internationally acclaimed musician, composer, bandleader, educator and a leading advocate of American culture. He is the world’s fi...
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