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Citations of George W. Bush as Uncurious, Explained

Web pages linked here all describe George W. Bush as uncurious, even if they don't use that exact word.
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Niagara Falls Reporter
By Bill Gallagher
December 13, 2000 the day after the Supreme Court decision in Bush v. Gore

Because he slid through life without reading, George W. never developed the curiosity that comes with it. It's sobering to note that Vice President to-be Dick Cheney has had more heart attacks (four) than Shrub has had trips abroad. And it's not that he didn't have the money--the fact is, the incurious Bush prefers to stay at his desolate ranch in Crawford, Texas, rather than to venture into the unknown of reading. The narrowness shows.

Recently, I heard a presentation from the chief Washington correspondent for the largest German television network. During the campaign, he and his crew were given extraordinary access to Bush, something Americans never got. What struck the German journalist was how incredibly oblivious Bush was about what's happening outside the United States.

While discussing the death penalty--expert-Bush has sent 40 people off to government-sanctioned murder already this year--his jaw dropped when the Germans told him they had no death penalty and all the countries in the European Union had dropped the barbarism long ago.

Bush was stunned. That was the first time he had heard that. The Germans were amazed Bush was so ignorant about what they considered common knowledge. He knew little about Europe and next to nothing about Africa and Asia and, more disturbing, he didn't seem to care or want to learn more.

Cartoon Said It
San Francisco Chronicle Letters to the Editor, December 8, 2000
Link to cartoon not in original, provided here for convenience.

About the ongoing election debacle . . . your cartoon by Tom Meyer said it all. There was George W. Bush as "Incurious George" seated on a box of uncounted ballots, reading a book titled "Presidency for Beginners." . . . How long before we wake up and realize, along with the rest of the world, that we've actually allowed "Embarrassing George" to be president of the United States?
Mill Valley

Re: OT What! No Politics?
From: Vince Lamb <vince_lamb@yahoo.com>
Newsgroups: rec.arts.marching.drumcorps
Subject: Re: OT What! No Politics?
Date: Thu, 07 Dec 2000 08:12:38 GMT

There's a lot more here. This is just the "uncurious" part.

Yet none of the easy charges against Bush touched upon his more
substantial incapacities: his lack of curiosity about the world (he has
scarcely traveled outside the United States and Mexico City) and the
ample evidence that he does not reason. During the debates, he was
unresponsive to questions the answers to which he had not memorized. In
public appearances, he spoke in sloganistic lists, not arcs. It would
seem that, precisely because his thinking was disordered, the governor
lost track of his points, so that items came out nonsensical, as
in: "Drug therapies are replacing a lot of medicines as we used to know

CSIndy: Outsider (November 2 - November 8, 2000)
Colorado Springs Independent
by John Hazlehurst
NOVEMBER 2, 2000

In a few days, it'll all be over. It'll either be President Al Gore (inventor, by the way, of the algorithm, without which computers would not exist), or President George W. Bush (let's call him "Incurious George").

Al and George W. are wholly recognizable types. Al: hard-working, serious, empathetic, painfully eager to reach out to others, somewhat embarrassed by his fortunate ancestry and wholly caught up in the tumult of those extraordinary times.

George W: serenely unaware of and unaffected by the changing world, never imagining that the era of Wasp ascendancy in all things was coming to an end.

The Light's election endorsements
Point Reyes Light [Marin County, CA] - November 2, 2000
The Light’s election endorsements
By Don Schinske

US PRESIDENT — The somewhat lifelike Al Gore is our choice over George Bush and Ralph Nader. That he seems uncomfortable in his own skin hobbles him as a campaigner; it doesn't change the fact of his readiness and fitness for the work. Bush, on the other hand, seems too happy with who is, high-fiving his way through middle age with a level of curiosity no higher than screen-saver. Worse, like many Western Republicans, he tries to turn his indifference to the larger world into some sort of virtue: "Lemme tellya how we do it in Texas," he says, deploying perhaps the least reassuring trope in American politics.

We'll just note that the Bush does not believe in global warming, would reduce our dependence on foreign oil by drilling in Alaska's Arctic Wildlife Refuge, and picked a running mate who as a congressman voted against the Head Start program plus the Clean Air and Clean Water acts.

Our riff on Nader: . . . We don't think a protest centered around a dour consumer advocate causes much angina over at the country club, particularly if that protest may be exactly what sends incurious George to Washington with 5,000 of his closest friends.

[news] George W. Bush: Nowhere Man
From: "consortiumnews.com" <consortnew@aol.com>
Newsgroups: misc.activism.progressive
Subject: [news] George W. Bush: Nowhere Man
Followup-To: alt.activism.d
Date: 30 Oct 2000 09:33:06 -0600

George W. Bush, who is poised to become the leader of the world's last
remaining superpower, has never been to Paris, London, Moscow, Tokyo or
many other major cities of the world, according to information from his
own campaign.

Indeed, the campaign claims only three overseas trips by the 54-year-old
Bush: one to China when his father was U.S. envoy, one to the Middle East
with a group of governors and one to Gambia as part of a U.S. delegation.

For details of Bush's lack of curiosity about the world, go to
Consortiumnews.com at http://www.consortiumnews.com

The Consortium
October 29, 2000
George W. Bush: Nowhere Man

The Republican nominee for president of the United States could be called the quintessential nowhere man, having gone fewer places and gained less world experience than any candidate for president in modern American history.

Outside of trips to Mexico, the country bordering Texas, Bush is claiming only three overseas trips. His longest was a month-long stay in China in 1975 when his father was U.S. envoy.

The New York Times cited this trip in an article about Bush’s surprising ambition to be president, noting his “overseas experience was pretty much limited to trying to date Chinese women (unsuccessfully) during a visit to Beijing in 1975.” [NYT, Oct. 29, 2000]

Another overseas trip was with a delegation of state governors to the Middle East in 1998, Bush's campaign said. En route, Bush stopped in Italy to see one of his daughters, apparently Bush’s only time in Europe.

The third overseas trip was a visit to the African country of Gambia as part of a U.S. delegation commemorating Gambia’s independence. [NYT, Oct. 30, 2000]

Those three trips leave out vast areas of the world and suggest a lack of curiosity about people and history outside American borders.

IMDiversity.com - Notes From an Invisible Indian
by Steve Russell, Native American Village contributor
Undated, but between the nominating conventions and Election Day 2000.

The man is simply incurious. He does not do policy. . . . He has little knowledge of or interest in history, economics, foreign affairs. . . .

The Consortium
October 29, 2000
George W. Bush: Nowhere Man

Outside of trips to Mexico, the country bordering Texas, Bush is claiming only three overseas trips. His longest was a month-long stay in China in 1975 when his father was U.S. envoy. . . .

Those three trips leave out vast areas of the world and suggest a lack of curiosity about people and history outside American borders. . . .

Bush’s lack of world experience is particularly striking, given the fact that he was the son of privilege and had a father who served as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and as CIA director. Despite these advantages, Bush apparently chose to stay close to home, shunning the challenges and excitement of international travel.

Re: Gore Alert! New Lie! (Al Gore, a very, very, very stupid man)^
Oldest known Usenet reference to George W. Bush as incurious. It's explained, too!
From: xofpi@my-deja.com
Subject: Re: Gore Alert! New Lie! (Al Gore, a very, very, very stupid man)^
Date: 2000/05/10
Newsgroups: alt.current-events.clinton.whitewater,talk.politics.misc

I don't know if GW is really stupid or just won't let us in on how smart
he is. If you went by his words alone, you wouldn't be at fault for
thinking he isn't the brightest bulb in Lampland. Perhaps it's just
nerves or some kind of learning disorder, but he seems to have a
recurring problem with conjugation of the verb "to be." Is this a sign
of his stupidity? I don't know. Maybe it's not fair to say it is. Is it
a sign of stupidity that he fell for someone claiming to be an emissary
from a fictitious Canadian Prime Minister? Perhaps it's just a sign of
occasional gullibility. In any case, there is plenty of evidence to
suggest he is not well informed and too incurious to do much about it.

Mr. Bush's Homework
The New York Times
February 11, 2000

What hampers George W. Bush today is a gnawing sense that he has neither the convictions nor curiosities to cope with this new world. (But beware John McCain: he may have too much conviction about the cold-war foreign policy, and be too quick to invade in all the wrong places.) George W. doesn't convey any sense that he understands the period of radical change we are entering, or has any big ideas -- other than a big tax cut -- for how to deal with it.

He also has another problem: We all know him, or at least we think we do, because we all went to high school with him. We all had a kid in our high school class -- the charming, pampered goof-off, the one you let peek at your homework -- whom you loved for fraternity president, but not student council president.

Bush takes a spill in New Hampshire
Tampa Tribune
Feb 3, 2000

We are not suggesting he has no convictions, just that, with the exception of a very few issues, he didn't demonstrate an abiding interest in the problems facing the nation. He seemed uncurious. . . .

WE RECALL WITH A WINCE his comment in the first debate among the GOP candidates when, asked what sort of material he regularly reads, he mentioned four newspapers, adding that he rarely got anything out of them. That's an odd remark, because no matter how much a person dislikes newspapers, it is inane to say they don't offer useful information, especially for someone new to the national political scene.


One pop quiz doesn't seem to sway perception
by Jena Heath and Ken Herman
November 28, 1999
Austin American-Statesman

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- He flunked a foreign leaders pop quiz, doesn't know a Greek from a ``Grecian,'' was a C-average college student, can't remember what, if anything, he liked to read as a boy and admits that, even today, he doesn't care to read weighty books on public policy, a subject that would seem natural for the governor of the second-most-populous state. . . . [several paragraphs omitted]

Critics call Bush's willingness to seek advice laudable, but limited. ``The problem with experts is that if the president himself is not smart and well-informed, even a president with the best intentions can be misled,'' said Paul Begala, a former aide to President Clinton who said he thinks Bush is smart but ``uncurious.'' ``You don't want to vest that much power in advisers,'' said Begala, a former Austinite. ``I know very well the influence briefers may have in what they do and do not tell the president. . . . If you want to have your finger on the thermonuclear button, if you want to write budgets of $1.5 trillion a year of our money, then you want to bone up a bit. It helps to be curious."

TIME.com: TIME Magazine Archive -- Primary Questions -- Nov. 15, 1999
Primary Questions
As the dust settles in a two-man race, the question now is: Does Bush have the brains, McCain the temperament to preside in the Oval Office?
Nov. 15, 1999

For Bush, the critical moment came last week when he flunked a pop quiz from a Boston television reporter by failing to name the leaders of countries like India and Pakistan. Bush argued in defense that the names are less relevant than his policies toward them. But the quiz was as much a test of his political radar as of his foreign-policy smarts: ever since he confused Slovenia and Slovakia and called the Greeks Grecians, he should have known it was only a matter of time before someone administered a midterm exam. And at other moments during the week, when he veered off text, the words just sort of floated out there, untied to any actual ideas. The implicit charge is less that he's stupid than that he's incurious, proudly anti-intellectual. Yet he is applying for a new and very demanding job--and it was hard for Bush to attack this as a media ambush when his education philosophy hinges on testing what students know before allowing them to advance to the next grade.

When Bush is challenged about his mastery of the material, his response goes straight to his vision of presidential leadership, the argument that too much knowledge can clutter a vision . . . it is more important for a President to have strong convictions about where he wants to take the country.

Article available without subscription:
Primary Questions - November 15, 1999 on CNN.com or
CURRENT EVENTS UPDATE - SPRING 2000 on Time Education Program

The Bush Watch
From Austin, Texas, Home of Candidate Bush
...It's the Industrial Strength Version of
August 1999
The August 1999 page of Bush Watch. This is the oldest known World Wide Web reference to George W. Bush as Uncurious George.

POLITEX: IS GEORGE W. BUSH A "COLOSSAL BOOB"? "Some voters may be less concerned with what drugs, if any, passed through Mr. Bush's brain than with what other traffic, if any, did," writes Frank Rich in Saturday's New York Times. "Though otherwise cooperating with a seven-part Washington Post profile this summer, this would-be education President would not permit either Andover or Yale to release his grades. Asked by a South Carolina elementary-school kid at a campaign photo op this week to name his favorite book as a child, Mr. Bush responded, "I can't remember any specific books." Amidst all the crackhead cracks on late-night talk shows was David Letterman's chilling aside, "I have the feeling that this guy could turn out to be a colossal boob." . . .

"George was a member of Deke, the fraternity known to be the drinking fraternity," John Lincoln, a Yale dorm mate, said, and he didn't consider Bush to be an intellect. When word of Bush's presidential hopes got out, Lincoln thought to himself, "You know, he's not all that smart. Which is maybe what the job takes." Even though it's been reported that at Phillips "the syllabus for History 4, a course required of seniors and purported to be the hardest at the school, ran 300 pages" and that Dubya successfully graduated from Yale with a major in history, his recorded statements and speeches throughout the years have been curiously devoid of specific historical references, let alone the larger thematic and philosophical views that students of history commonly bring to their experiences. In fact, when interviewed last spring in an hour-long C-Span dialogue, Bush could not remember a single favorite book he had ever read. The best he could come up with was a vague reference to some book on Mississippi floods he once read for an undergradute course over 30 years ago. What we're left with, then, is the assurance that he neither used coke nor read a particularly interesting book in 25 years.

So it did not come as much of a surprise that Bush has been reading books to little kids as part of his campaign shtick since June, but said last week he couldn't remember the title of a single childhood favorite: "First, Mr. Bush said it was a book about Willie Mays - his childhood baseball hero. Then he said it wasn't that but rather one about Texas history he liked in the fourth grade at elementary school in Midland. Turning to his wife, Laura, he asked whether she recalled the name of the history book. She shook her head no. Finally, the governor conceded: 'I can't remember any specific book.'"

Un-Curious George uses Willie Mays a lot: he's also the person that George most often comes up with when he's asked to name his personal hero.

There's lots more here! This is just a taste. Click the above link and read the whole thing!

George W. Bush Press Release
Unit for the Study of Personality in Politics
Executive Summary: Personality Profile of Texas Governor George W. Bush
Undated, but implicitly July or August 1999

Gov. George W. Bush’s personality-based leadership limitations include:

Personality Profile of Gov. George W. Bush
Unit for the Study of Personality in Politics
Office of Institutional Marketing and Communications
College of Saint Benedict, St. Joseph, MN 56374
Saint John’s University, Collegeville, MN 56321
Personality Profile Reveals Outgoing, Adventurous Qualities in Bush’s Character
July 29, 1999
A similar excerpt appears in Aubrey Immelman's August 1999 brief research report, The Political Personality of George W. Bush.

Finally, Immelman reports that his findings, in conjunction with political psychologist Dean Keith Simonton’s empirically established dimensions of presidential style, can be employed to make some tentative predictions for a Bush presidency. . . . A less deliberative Bush runs the risk of failing at times fully to appreciate the implications of his decisions, display sufficient depth of comprehension, or effectively weigh alternatives and long-term consequences of policy initiatives. Furthermore, an outgoing, relatively unreflective President Bush may not keep himself as thoroughly informed as he should (for example, by reading briefings or background reports), may force decisions to be made prematurely, may lose sight of his limitations, and may tend to sacrifice effective policy for political success.

Immelman has been a member of the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University faculty since 1991. He has conducted extensive research in the area of political personality, including studies of President Bill Clinton, Vice President Al Gore, independent counsel Kenneth Starr, likely Senate candidates Hillary Clinton and Rudy Giuliani, and Minnesota governor Jesse Ventura. Professor Immelman can be contacted at aimmelman@csbsju.edu.


TIME.com: TIME Magazine Archive -- The Differences That Really Matter -- Nov. 07, 1988
The Differences That Really Matter
Here's the paradox: George Bush and Michael Dukakis are similar in ways they are loath to admit, but they diverge on points that a trivial and nasty campaign has failed to elucidate
Nov. 7, 1988
George W. Bush's father, George H. W. Bush, is described as incurious.

For better and worse, Bush is not Reagan. As an administrator this would clearly be a virtue, since the Vice President, although incurious and often inattentive, does have an underlying understanding of how Government works. The problem for Bush is "the vision thing." While Dukakis is trying to hide his ideology, Bush is attempting to conceal the fact that he does not have any. A former Bush aide contends, "He's not interested in policy." Through his entire career, the Vice President has been a political chameleon, taking on the coloration of the President he serves. Although he would hate to admit it, Bush was even willing to stay on under Carter as CIA director. The most important unanswered question in this campaign: Who would shape Bush's values and priorities if he became President? The near indefensible choice of Dan Quayle aside, the contours of Bush's projected Administration suggest that he would govern as a mainstream Republican -- sort of Gerald Ford plus pork rinds.

The New Republic
Oct 17, 1988
Incurious George
Bush on Iran-Contra and Noriega drug running
Incurious George is George H. W. Bush. The word "incurious" appears only in the title, but it's justified in the story.

Bush's claim that the administration had no hard evidence of Noriega's wrongdoings until shortly before the indictments took shape is also untrue. We'll leave aside the administration reports about Noriega's drug involvement circulating even back in 1976, when Bush headed the CIA. (And we won't dwell on the fact that, when CIA Director Bush heard that Noriega had paid U.S. soldiers for highly classified information, he chose not to raise a fuss.) Let's focus instead on the past eight years. In 1983 Noriega met with members of Colombia's Medellin cocaine cartel to discuss its plans for setting up business in Panama. In 1985 he emceed a meeting among competing Latin American drug traffickers, helping them divvy up the turf harmoniously. Thanks to a U.S. informant (backed up in the second case by electronic intercepts), both meetings were noted in the government's classified "National Intelligence Daily." In March of this year, a former National Security Council staff member summarized for Congress the long-standing evidence of drug trafficking by the Panamanian military, which Noriega heads: "Available to me as an officer of the NSC, and available to any authorized official of the U.S. government, is a plethora of human intelligence, electronic intercepts, and satellite and overflight photography that, taken together, constitute not just a smoking gun, but rather a 21-cannon barrage of evidence." . . .

A week before the 1985 meeting, newly appointed national security adviser John Poindexter, by then familiar with the evidence of Noriega's drug involvement, had gone to Panama and warned Noriega about drug corruption among Panamanian officials. On June 12, 1986, the New York Times reported this mission and recounted evidence against Noriega. Bush contends that none of this clued him in—that, indeed, for years to come he was unaware of Poindexter's mission and of its purpose, even though reports of both had been on newsstands all over America.

Is any of this possible? That Bush, head of the administration's drug interdiction effort, met to discuss Panamanian drug trafficking with an ambassador deeply concerned about Noriega's role in it and didn't hear about these concerns? That Bush, one of eight members of the National Security Council, didn't get word of the national security adviser's warning to Noriega about drug trafficking? Let's suppose for a second that Bush isn't lying. What are we left with? The image of a Vice President Magoo, even more oblivious of the world around him than President Reagan.

TIME.com: TIME Magazine Archive -- More Worldly Than Wise -- Aug. 15, 1988
Bush's foreign policy is prudent and mainstream
George H. W. Bush shows a dismaying lack of curiosity.

Bush's greatest problem in foreign policy may be answering the "Where was George?" question. How does he explain the numerous times he has seemed to be invisible when major blunders were made? The most troubling example is the Iran-contra affair. He was in charge of an antiterrorism task force that asserted that the U.S. should never negotiate with terrorists, but Bush says he did not piece together the fact that secret U.S. arms shipments to Iran became an arms-for-hostages deal even though George Shultz and Caspar Weinberger spoke out against it. And although he met with those involved in covert activities in Central America, he says he never discovered that a major enterprise to illegally finance the contras was being run from the White House. Even if Bush is taken at his word, both cases illustrate a dismaying lack of curiosity, moral concern or willingness to question the policies of others. They indicate that his much vaunted experience has not fully instilled the wisdom required to stave off such fiascos.

Citations, Explained, 2007
Citations, Explained, April–December 2006
Citations, Explained, January–March 2006
Citations, Explained, 2005
Citations, Explained, October–December 2004
Citations, Explained, July–September 2004
Citations, Explained, May–June 2004
Citations, Explained, April 2004
Citations, Explained, March 2004
Citations, Explained, February 2004
Citations, Explained, January 2004
Citations, Explained, October–December 2003
Citations, Explained, July–September 2003
Citations, Explained, January–June 2003
Citations, Explained, 2002
Citations, Explained, 2001
Citations, Explained, 2000 and earlier

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