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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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2007 | Apr–Dec 2006 | Jan–Mar 2006 | 2005
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Oct–Dec 2003 | Jul–Sep 2003 | Jan–Jun 2003 | 2002 | 2001 | 2000 and earlier

This page: Oct–Dec | Jul–Sep | Apr–Jun | Jan–Mar

October–December 2002

Simonsays.com > SimonSaysShop > More George W. Bushisms: More of Slate's Accidental Wit and Wisdom of Our 43rd President > Read an Excerpt
More George W. Bushisms
More of Slate's Accidental Wit and Wisdom of Our 43rd President
By Joseph Weisberg
According to Amazon.com, the book was published October 22, 2002.

That Bush risks going off-book at all is not because he forgets about his peculiar verbal disability. It's because it never occurs to him that it might be important for the Leader of the Free World to express himself with clarity and coherence. Just as the mark of the educated man is a humbling awareness of how little he knows (thus the signature insecurity of professors), the most salient feature of the unschooled is cluelessness, the inability to grasp one's own condition. Bush is plenty smart -- and he's technically educated -- but because of his natural incuriosity about the wider world, Bush has fought a crippling, lifelong battle with ignorance.

July–September 2002

New York: One Year After
by Eliot Weinberger
September 1, 2002
Eliot Weinberger is a poet, scholar and translator. He lives in New York City.

Let us drill into the skull of George W. Bush. He might not be as stupid as it is widely assumed, but he is a man without curiosity, who doesn't read books or newspapers, watch television, go to the movies, or listen to any kind of music. . . . Before being elected president, Bush had only left the country very briefly, once or twice: a business trip to Saudi Arabia, a beach vacation in Mexico. . . . He has spent his entire life in a world as provincial as that of the House of Saud (and evidently one where France is never mentioned): a tiny circle of Texas oil and energy millionaires who repeatedly rescued him from his financial disasters because he was the President's son and a nice guy and one of them.

In the manner of patrician families, he believes, as his father did, that he and his Team know what's best for the country and the world, and they have no patience for tiresome other opinions. When they had to formulate an energy policy for the administration, they assembled a group of energy corporation executives, without bothering to include even a token environmentalist or consumer advocate or labor leader; and then they refused to release the proceedings. When they recently organized a conference to discuss the economic crisis, only large contributors to the Republican Party and small-town Republican businessmen were invited. The Team believes in Secret Government, which has been epitomized by the bizarre disappearances of Vice-President Cheney-Mabuse--supposedly to protect him from terrorists, though the Team's spokesperson, Bush, makes frequent public appearances--which would always lead to speculation that he was dead, until he (or perhaps a double) miraculously turned up again on television. This is why they couldn't care less if the rest of the world--even their own generals--is opposed to an invasion of Iraq. They know that men must do what they have to do, and some of them, Bush himself included, truly believe that God has chosen them--though of course it is a different God from the one who has chosen bin Laden.

BuzzFlash presents Southern Style - The Big Bully
September 6, 2002
by Rebecca Knight

One should always consider how decisions made impact the lives of others, especially in the political arena. This is the concept that the Bush administration and many other politicians just don't care about. . . .

Bush is definitely perceived as being conspicuously unintelligent and slow to learn or understand because of his pattern of speech, poor vocabulary, and inability to process thoughts quickly enough when unscripted. This is more an indication of poor preparation, lack of attention to detail, laziness and absolutely no intellectual curiosity. . . .

Why would someone so lacking in intellectual curiosity even want a position like president of the United States? Ahhhh, there's the question at the heart of the matter. There's the conundrum. There's the paradox. Perhaps the answer lies in his lack of intellectual curiosity and a deeply seeded [sic] need to prove something. Perhaps he sought the most powerful position in the world to prove to himself and to his detractors that he is not an intellectual lightweight. . . .

The problem is that the American people are being used as pawns in Bush the bully's power struggles. His policy decisions are harming the people in incremental steps. The man who lacks intellectual curiosity and compassion either does not see this or does not care. Most likely it is the latter.

Incurious George has spent forty-two percent of his presidency at leisurely destinations. He has amassed an amazing $114.8 million dollars at 48 GOP fundraising events this year alone. He has completed fifteen rounds of golf during his presidency, but held only six press conferences. These are telling statistics. They say a lot about what this president has on his mind, or more significantly, what he does not have on his mind.

April–June 2002

American Politics Journal -- Napping On The Job
The APJ Mailbag
TO: The Washington Press Corps
From: CK
Re: Karl Rove / Operation Distract & Divert
Date: June 16, 2002
This article is also cited in Citations: Uncurious Media with a different excerpt.

What did the Bush White House know about the September 11th Attacks? And when did they know it? And more important -- What information did they ignore?

And MOST important -- WHY did they ignore the warnings they received?

The simple answer to this question is probably the most damning indictment of all:

Un-Curious George just wasn't interested in warnings about terrorist attacks. Anti-Terrorism wasn't on the Bush Administration's "to do" list. [bold in original]

On May 17th [2002], Barton Gellman wrote in the Washington Post:
Director of Central Intelligence George J. Tenet had been "nearly frantic" with concern since June 22 [2001], according to one frequent interlocutor, and a written intelligence summary for national security adviser Condoleezza Rice said on June 28 [2001]: "It is highly likely that a significant al Qaeda attack is in the near future, within several weeks." By late summer, one senior political appointee said, Tenet had "repeated this so often that people got tired of hearing it.
The Bush White House was tired of Terror Warnings -- according to a senior political appointee.

In other words, the number one job of any Commander in Chief -- to protect and defend the United States of America -- was BORING to the Bush White House.

The Smirking Chimp
What We Really Need to Know. The basic Bush attitude toward accountability seems to be: stuff it. This distaste for ‘Monday-morning quarterbacking’ predates 9-11
By Jonathan Alter
Issue date: June 10, 2002
Posted Monday, June 03, 2002 @ 10:07:56 EDT

The president was unfairly tarred for not having done more before September 11; the real question is why he didn’t show more curiosity after. When asked recently whether Bush has now read the critical still-secret memo by Phoenix agent Kenneth Williams warning about terrorists and flight schools, the White House said no, a briefing on it sufficed. If you were president, wouldn’t you want to read it?

Maybe not. There’s something typically American about Incurious George. He’s also understandably reacting against the scandal culture of the 1990s, where finger-pointing and scapegoating became not just a blood sport but a cliche. The Bush family has long loathed public spectacle and preferred government behind closed doors. Even so, there are practical as well as political reasons for understanding exactly what went wrong. You can’t fix something until you fix some blame.

Other modern presidents understood this. Perhaps FDR’s 1941 Roberts Commission (on Pearl Harbor, set up within three weeks of the attack), LBJ’s 1963 Warren Commission (on the JFK assassination) and Ronald Reagan’s 1986 Rogers Commission (on the space-shuttle explosion) were whitewashes, but they were also invaluable documents for beginning to understand these disasters. At a minimum, they got the major players on record before their memories faded and highly charged hearings on Capitol Hill began. By contrast, Bush rejected an independent inquiry of any kind. His preference was for no investigation at all; he only agreed to one by the Joint Committee on Intelligence under pressure.

Welcome to the Vancouver Courier - On Line - Opinion
Presidential response to WTC attack smells fishy
By Geoff Olson
Monday, May 27, 2002

Weeks before Sept. 11, George W. Bush was informed that terrorists were plotting to hijack airliners to use as missiles. What exactly did the Commander in Chief know, and when did he know it? . . .

A "horrible accident" made by a "terrible pilot"? That's a pretty nonintuitive response, even for Incurious George.

Yet neither the President nor his staff were moved into action, in spite of what we know in retrospect-Bush had been briefed weeks to months earlier on the intent of terrorists to use jets as weapons. Instead, he proceeded into the classroom to read a story to the children.

When his press secretary whispered into his ear about a second plane going into the WTC, the President wore a look of concern-and returned to his story.

TAP: Vol 13, Iss. 9. Axis of Incompetence. Harold Meyerson.
The American Prospect
Issue Date: May 20, 2002

The president, we all know, is not simply incurious about the world but clearly reluctant to see it: He took all of one European trip in the 48 years before he became governor. . . .

Bush, Armey, DeLay, Trent Lott, Dennis Hastert -- they're provincials and proud of it. They revel in a parochialism that would have made even Reagan (who, after all, came from Hollywood) a bit uneasy. When the world is not to their liking, they despise and dismiss it.

MSNBC - George W. Bush Should Learn the Lessons of History
The President doesn’t seem to see how tough questions might help prevent another attack or serve a patriotic end
Newsweek Web Exclusive
Updated: 9:55 a.m. ET May 18, 2002
The author of this opinion is not identified on the MSNBC site. It was Jonathan Alter, according to The Smirking Chimp.

The worrisome thing now is that Incurious George apparently doesn’t want to know much about his own government. He doesn’t see how tough questions might help prevent another attack or serve a patriotic end. He doesn’t grasp that public accountability would serve his ends by forcing the bureaucracy to change faster.

New Page 1
Bush Week in Review
May 13-19, 2002

Saudi Prince Tutored Bush:  When the Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah visited Mr. Bush last week, he found our incurious leader somewhat lacking in the knowledge department.  The Prince opined:  "He listens and debates politely, but was not fully informed about the real conditions in the region... He is the type of person who sleeps at 9.30 p.m. after watching the domestic news. In the morning, he only reads a few lines about what is written on the Middle East and the world due to his huge responsibilities. I felt it was my duty to spend as long a time as possible to brief him on the facts directly and without an intermediary."

News/Features | How Dubya lost his groove
Boston Phoenix
May 2 - 9, 2002

Bush is once again starting to look like the limited, incurious president who lost the popular vote and won the presidency only because of a dubious rush to judgment by the US Supreme Court. It’s possible to criticize him again. It’s even possible to make fun of him. The online magazine Slate has revived its "Bushisms," and the latest — first reported by the New York Daily News — is a doozy: "This foreign-policy stuff is a little frustrating."

Monday, April 1, 2002
by Hank Blakely

Yes, I am aware that some will say, with self-apparent justification, that he is unintelligent, incurious, uninspired, irresolute, petty and thin-skinned; that he lacks courage, is without vision, is easily daunted, is unreliable, untruthful, and treacherous; that he is a vainglorious, mean-spirited, foolhardy poltroon; a feckless popinjay, a boil on the bum of democracy, etc., etc. -- a list seemingly without end.

January–March 2002

George W. Bush compared with Abraham Lincoln
Is George W. Bush the Next Abraham Lincoln?
Lincoln-Bush Comparisons
by Gene Griessman © March 2002

Bush is not considered to be intellectually curious. Gerald Kaufman, an elderly leader of the British Labor Party stated: “Bush (is) himself the most intellectually backward American President of my political lifetime.....” (in Frum, p. 278) David Frum, one of Bush’s former speechwriters, and a professed fan of Bush, writes: “He (Bush) is...often uncurious and as a result ill informed.”  (Frum, p.272) [ellipses in Greissman's article]

The Observer | Special reports | Christopher Hitchens: What Bush got right
Hey, I'm doing my best
Sunday January 20, 2002

someone got up and read me all the words I had used to describe President Bush only about 12 months ago: 'Uncultured... uneducated... incurious... a glove puppet and proud of it... etc.' Did I, the questioner wanted to know, still believe any of that?

My answer, which was a bit improvised, was this: Mr Bush is still one of the most unqualified people ever to have run for the highest office, let alone to have attained it. There will never come a time when he reads for pleasure or takes a serious interest in another country.

Simple Gifts - How Bush's shallowness makes him a good war president. By Jacob Weisberg
Posted Friday, Jan. 4, 2002, at 10:10 AM PT

His intellectual limitations, however, remain firmly in place. Bush continues to exhibit the same lack of curiosity, thoughtfulness, and engagement with ideas that made him a C student. Nuance, complexity, subtlety, and contradiction are not part of the mental universe he inhabits.

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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