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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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September 2003

Imperial America: The Bush Assault on World Order - by John Newhouse
Library Journal
Robert F. Nardini, Chichester, NH
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information
Review date: September 30, 2003 (uncuriousgeorge.org's guess)
Book published September 16, 2003

Newhouse, who has been a foreign correspondent for The New Yorker and a State Department official in the Clinton administration, writes that an incurious Bush has taken heedless risks while wasting unprecedented post-9/11 opportunities to strengthen the world order. His actions, writes Newhouse, are informed by "one man's take on moral clarity" and guided by a circle of right-wing advisers with a "disdain for diplomacy" and an "obsession with Iraq."

An Age Like This
Monday, September 29, 2003
And the Stonewalling Begins
by Susan

President Incurious George has decided that he won't bother to ask his aides to reveal which one of them blew the cover of an undercover CIA agent:
White House officials said they would turn over phone logs if the Justice Department asked them to. But the aides said Bush has no plans to ask his staff members whether they played a role in revealing the name of an undercover officer who is married to former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV, one of the most visible critics of Bush's handling of intelligence about Iraq. [Original Washington Post link, now expired, replaced by San Francisco Chronicle reprint.]
Wake up, Incurious George. You're about to have to find another job as an unsuccessful businessman.

The trouble with incurious George
By BILL MAXWELL, Times Staff Writer
St. Petersburg (FL) Times September 28, 2003

George W. Bush's biggest problem is that he never knew much about the world around him, and he still does not know much. All of his life, he has been known as a person who does not read, who does not travel unless forced to do so.

Note part of a recent New York Times editorial describing Bush's manner of informing himself:

"As for newspapers, Mr. Bush said, 'I glance at the headlines' but 'rarely read the stories.' The people who brief him on current events encounter many of the newsmakers personally, he said, and in any case 'probably read the news themselves.' . . . During the Iraq invasion, when the rest of the nation was glued to TV, Mr. Bush's spokesman claimed that his boss had barely glanced at the pictures of what was going on . . . it is worrisome when one of the most incurious men ever to occupy the White House takes pains to insist that he gets his information on what the world is saying only in predigested bits from his appointees."

AFF's Brainwash - Hating Bush
Brainwash: AFF's Weekly Online Magazine
Hating Bush
by Jonathan Chait
September 28, 2003
AFF is America’s Future Foundation. This article links to an earlier article in The New Republic which is no longer in the free archive.

But there is one aspect of his character that I hate. It's the way he combines total intellectual indifference with fatuous certitude. He's not a dumb guy. He has perfectly respectable SAT scores. He's probably a good bit smarter than his mush-mouthed syntax suggests: his father couldn't talk very well, and yet nobody seriously suspects a former CIA chief of being an intellectual lightweight.

Bush isn't dumb, but he's staggeringly incurious and ill informed about history and politics. He's probably smarter than Reagan, Kemp, or Quayle, but all of them had an admirable autodidactic thirst for knowledge. Few of us want a president who reads the New York Review of Books, but a president who reads books would be nice. Bush combines the intellectual curiousity of Keanu Reeves with the arrogant self-confidence of Bill O'Reilly. If he had some historical perspective, or a hint of Socratic wisdom it might help him pursue more sensible policies, or at least more effectively carry out the policies he's bent on. As it is, he doesn't know what he doesn't know, or worse, he doesn't care.

The Presidential Bubble
The New York Times
September 25, 2003

During the Iraqi invasion, when the rest of the nation was glued to TV, Mr. Bush's spokesman claimed that his boss had barely glanced at the pictures of what was going on.

But it is worrisome when one of the most incurious men ever to occupy the White House takes pains to insist that he gets his information on what the world is saying only in predigested bits from his appointees.

Mr. Bush thinks of himself as a man of the people, but carefully staged contacts with groups of supporters or small children does not constitute getting in touch with the people. It is in Mr. Bush's interest, as well as the nation's, for him to burst the bubble he has been inhabiting, and take a hard look at the real world.

MemeFirst: Who's Afraid of a Terror Nexus?
September 24, 2003
This piece is "conspiratorial," but the argument is backed up with some evidence and the author clearly acknowledges that it's speculative.

What if the Bush administration not only knew that its “nexus of terror” argument was trumped-up, but actually set about trying to create the very condition of terror that it speciously claimed was the justification for the war in the first place? In other words, what if the administration wanted to create the very “hornet’s nest” that so-called “experts” from RAND and CSIS are now decrying? The strategy goes: draw the terrorists in like moths to a flame. Entice then into a country with no laws or civil liberties where they will be in close proximity to 120,000 heavily armed US troops and then systematically kill or capture them. “Take the battle to the enemy,” in the rhetoric of the administration.

Some might say that because George W. Bush is an “intellectually uncurious” thinker, the Bush administration is not sophisticated enough to plan, conceive, or execute something like this. They may be right. But while Bush has said and done some demonstrably stupid things, to underestimate the intellectual firepower of Rice, Wolfowitz, and Perle would be a mistake.

Incurious George - www.ezboard.com
Incurious George
by Dalton Jones, 9/23/2003

Forgive me for starting a new thread but I just can't let this pass. Here is an account of Bush's interview with Brit Hume on Fox. In it, Bush explains he doesn't read newspapers or watch the news. From the article:

Bush said he insulates himself from the "opinions" that seep into news coverage by getting his news from his own aides. He said he scans headlines, but rarely reads news stories.

"I appreciate people's opinions, but I'm more interested in news," the president said. "And the best way to get the news is from objective sources, and the most objective sources I have are people on my staff who tell me what's happening in the world."
. . .

Man, I though referring to Rove as Bush's brain was just a joke.

Bush shrugs off Democratic race and attacks on him; draws his news from his aides instead
San Francisco Chronicle
SCOTT LINDLAW, Associated Press Writer
Monday, September 22, 2003

Bush insisted he was "not paying attention" to the Democratic race. He said he knew who the candidates are, but had not watched a Democratic debate.

Likewise, Bush's response to the Democrats' specific criticisms about his handling of the war in Iraq and the economy. "I repeat, I'm not really paying attention to it," he said.

Bush said he insulates himself from the "opinions" that seep into news coverage by getting his news from his own aides. He said he scans headlines, but rarely reads news stories.

"I appreciate people's opinions, but I'm more interested in news," the president said. "And the best way to get the news is from objective sources, and the most objective sources I have are people on my staff who tell me what's happening in the world."

FOXNews.com - Politics - Raw Data: Text of Bush Interview
Monday, September 22, 2003
The full text of President Bush's exclusive interview with Fox News' Brit Hume aired Monday night

HUME: Turning to the Democratic field, how do you account for the rise in Howard Dean?

BUSH: Not paying attention to it. [Several questions and answers omitted]

HUME: . . . How do you account for this intensity of the Democrats' feeling about you?

BUSH: I don't know. I should be asking you that question, I guess. . . . I really don't pay that much attention to it. Obviously, I'm aware of who the candidates are. I have yet to watch a debate. [Several questions and answers omitted]

HUME: How do you get your news?

BUSH: I get briefed by Andy Card and Condi in the morning. They come in and tell me. In all due respect, you've got a beautiful face and everything. I glance at the headlines just to kind of a flavor for what's moving. I rarely read the stories, and get briefed by people who are probably read the news themselves. But like Condoleezza, in her case, the national security adviser is getting her news directly from the participants on the world stage.

HUME: Has that been your practice since day one, or is that a practice that you've...

BUSH: Practice since day one.

HUME: Really?

BUSH: Yes. You know, look, I have great respect for the media. I mean, our society is a good, solid democracy because of a good, solid media. But I also understand that a lot of times there's opinions mixed in with news. And I...

HUME: I won't disagree with that, sir.

BUSH: I appreciate people's opinions, but I'm more interested in news. And the best way to get the news is from objective sources. And the most objective sources I have are people on my staff who tell me what's happening in the world.

Amateurs and Zealots
Washington Post
By Richard Cohen
Thursday, September 11, 2003

Presidents, like parents, lovers and pension managers, sometimes break promises. But Bush is different. Above all, he was incurious, unquestioning and -- as we have learned -- unprepared. Always, though, he was certain.

That certainty was certainly misplaced. Bush's foreign policy has been a shambles - a war against the wrong enemy (Iraq and not worldwide terrorism), for the wrong reasons (where are those weapons of mass destruction?), a debacle in postwar Iraq (who are those terrorists?), a Middle East road map to nowhere (wasn't Iraq going to make it all so easy?) and a string of statements about nearly everything (the cost of rebuilding Iraq, for instance) that have proved untrue or just plain dumb. To make matters worse, truth tellers have been punished while liars and fog merchants have remained in office.

The above was also in the New York Daily News September 11, 2003, as
New York Daily News - Ideas & Opinions - Richard Cohen: President's Iraq policy a shambles.

Jack O'Toole: Uncurious George
September 06, 2003
Uncurious George

President Bush is simply being President Bush -- a basically decent but profoundly uncurious guy who relies on those around him to do most of the heavy lifting. Not surprisingly, his policies -- or rather his twisting, turning, shifting policies -- tend to reflect these basic truths about the presidential character.

If you let your mind drift back to the misty days of 2000, you'll recall that the then-Governor's relative inexperience and lack of curiosity were widely debated. . . .

And now we know the answer to that question. Lacking either Ronald Reagan's fully-developed view of the world or Bill Clinton's intellectual firepower, this president, who prides himself on his steely resolve, vacillates: Rummy's up, Rummy's down. Powell's down, Powell's up. When the economists are in favor, protectionism's bad. When Rove's star is rising, steel tariffs and managed trade are all the fashion. . . .

As it is, you just have to shake your head and hope that the right people have the president's ear at the right time.

TAP: Vol 14, Iss. 8. Signs of a Pulse. Todd Gitlin.
The American Prospect
Issue Date: September 1, 2003

The purported competence of Bush's inner circle has often served to insulate him from any question of how someone so stupendously ignorant and incurious about the world is still capable of making sensible decisions. But it's increasingly evident that the president and his intimates -- Cheney, Condoleezza Rice, Donald Rumsfeld and the other top Pentagon brass -- are more confident than competent.

Barnes & Noble.com - Imperial America: The Bush Assault on World Order
by John Newhouse
published September 2003
Library Journal

Newhouse, who has been a foreign correspondent for The New Yorker and a State Department official in the Clinton administration, writes that an incurious Bush has taken heedless risks while wasting unprecedented post-9/11 opportunities to strengthen the world order. His actions, writes Newhouse, are informed by "one man's take on moral clarity" and guided by a circle of right-wing advisers with a "disdain for diplomacy" and an "obsession with Iraq." . . . -Robert F. Nardini, Chichester, NH.

Opinions, reflections & rants 2001-2003
More Than Americans
by Thom Rutledge
Incurious George
Septermber [sic] 2003
This document is a 92-page, 458,834-byte PDF file. The Incurious George article appears on pages 77-78 and uses the term "Incurious George" nine times.

A New York Times editorial (“The Presidential Bubble” 9-25-03) describes George W. Bush as “one of the most incurious men ever to occupy the White House.” Well said. Genuine curiosity is the clearest demonstration of respect for others, but this man has little of either of these characteristics. Incurious George is blatantly without respect for anyone other than those who are just like him.

August 2003

The New Yorker: Fact
Paris Journal
A summer of obsessions in France.
Issue of 2003-09-01
Posted 2003-08-25

Even the most resolutely anti-anti-Americans in Paris don’t know what to do about George W. Bush—no one since Joseph McCarthy has been such a gift to anti-Americanism in Europe, and particularly in France. Even the unprecedented heat that has swept Europe is provocative, people feeling that a warming so global might have something to do with global warming. The centrist journal Le Débat, in an editorial defending the American intervention in Iraq and criticizing the French government for opposing it, felt compelled to call the current Administration “perhaps the worst in American history.” What the French, from left to right, see as Bush’s shallow belligerence, his incuriosity, his contempt for culture or even the idea of difference—no one in France can forget his ridiculing an American reporter, on his one visit to Paris, for daring to speak to the French President in French—make him a heavy burden even for the most wholeheartedly pro-American thinker.

Uncurious George, by Dom Stasi
A Grumpy Reflection On Faith and Fallacy
August 14, 2003
This article was reworked and appeared on the same site as The Descent of Man Nov. 23, 2003.

Consider how this simplistic stupidity is playing out today. Bush was told of a New Domino Theory. It went something like this: once a tyrant or two falls through overwhelming American military force, democracy would spread through the Mid East country-by-country like tumbling dominoes. He liked what he heard. With no substantive frame of reference, he believed it. Perhaps uncurious George W. Bush should have read about the old Domino Theory before invoking the new one.

The above paragraph appears in slightly modified form in the author's November 23, 2003, strident article The Descent of Man.

July 2003

Democrats Abroad: Letter From Washington (July 20, 2003)
by Tom Fina, Executive Director Emeritus, Democrats Abroad
The excerpt is the article's conclusion. Read the article to see the evidence and reasoning behind the conclusion.

Even before this history is written, there are some conclusions about the President that are likely to be included in it. Above all, is the President's lack of intellectual preparation for making decisions about war or peace. It has long been evident that he is not only uneducated about foreign affairs, and therefore unable to make informed choices among the options presented, but he is also uncurious. He has no patience or passion to weigh alternatives, to question his own assumptions, to go beyond his intimate staff to get independent judgments and to hear unpleasant truths. Unlike Kennedy in the Cuban missile crisis or Clinton throughout his administration, Bush abhors detail. As his spokesperson said explaining why he had not read the Department of State footnote disputing the claim of Iraqi nuclear preparations, "The President is not a fact checker."

We may never know what convinced the President to decide to invade Iraq. But we can be absolutely certain that he did not reach that conclusion after an intellectually rigorous consideration of the arguments, the ambiguity of the intelligence and the wisdom of government and academic experts.

Daily Kos: What to do about George?
Thursday | July 17, 2003
By Steve Gilliard

Bush's one asset is his personal character, or more accurately, the illusion of his personal character as an honest, straight shooting man. The reality would be more like a boorish man who is intellectually incurious, but if you've seen Being There, the simplistic statements of mentally disabled gardener Chauncey are turned into political genius, you can understand how the process works. . . .

He has no sense of consequence for any of his actions. Despite a lifetime of things not working out, a lifetime of being saved by cronies and friends of his family, he still acts as if he's a self made man.

TIME - Joe Klein - How Bush Misleads Himself
How Bush Misleads Himself
Bush must get over his self delusions and take responsibility for Iraq
Monday, Jul. 21, 2003

Why has the uranium story puffed up so huge? It wouldn't have been a very big deal without the deepening crisis in Iraq. But it also has ballast because it clarifies an aspect of George W. Bush's essential character — specifically, the problem he has with telling the truth. I am not saying Bush is a liar. Lying is witting: "I did not have sexual relations with that woman." This is weirder than that. The President seems to believe that wishing will make it so — and he is so stupendously incurious that he rarely makes an effort to find the truth of the matter. He misleads not only the nation but himself. Every worst-case Saddam scenario just had to be true, as did every best-case post-Saddam scenario. Bush's talent for self-deception extends to domestic and economic policy. He probably believes that he's a compassionate conservative, even though he has allowed every antipoverty program he favors to be eviscerated by Congress. This week's outrage is the crippling of AmeriCorps, which he had pledged to increase in size. He probably believes that his tax cuts for the wealthy will help reduce the mammoth $455 billion budget deficit (which doesn't include the cost of Iraq), even though Ronald Reagan found that the exact opposite was true and had to raise taxes twice to repair the damage done by his 1981 cuts. And Bush probably believed, as the sign said, that the "mission" had been "accomplished" in Iraq when he landed on the aircraft carrier costumed as a flyboy. He may even have believed that he was a flyboy.

Saturday, July 19, 2003
Classics of Winger Rhetoric
Posted by Lambert

According to a White House official here:
"The president of the United States is not a fact-checker."
Then again, back on July 5, Our CEO President himself told us:
"I'm the kind of person that likes to know all the facts before I make a decision."
(thanks to alert reader the reverend)

So who's lying? The official? Bush? Or both?

UPDATE: Thanks to the reverend. I guess I'll have to use that "Incurious George" riff another time.

UPDATE: Parseville!
Alert readers decode the carefully crafted, lawyer-like statements of Bush and his officials. Surprise! They turn out to be "technically accurate"!
"I said I was the kind of person who likes to know all the facts. ... That doesn't mean I actually look for them. I just like to think I know what they are." (thanks to Traitorous filth)
-Lambert 6:35 PM

Note: the above web page also used "incurious george" here:
Sunday, July 20, 2003 Bush Is Bullish On Economy
Posted by Leah

No wonder Incurious George is so optimistic.

Warblogging.com: What did Bush know, and when? — Banned by CENTCOM
July 14, 2003
Posted by George Paine
This excellent 2500-word article was difficult to distill, but here is the essence of Bush as liar or uncurious dupe of his superiors, one or the other.

In October, when President Bush was to give a speech in Cincinnati mentioning the Nigerian uranium, George Tenet personally intervened to prevent him from mentioning the uranium. Later in the month, the National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq's WMD — a huge effort spanning every American intelligence agency and coordinated by the DCI's office — included the uranium claim, saying it could not verify the story and could not "confirm whether Iraq succeeded in acquiring uranium ore and/or yellowcake" from other countries. The NIE even included, as a footnote, the State Department's conclusion that the yellowcake claims were "highly dubious".

Despite all the doubt regarding — and outright de-bunking of — the uranium story, the Bush Administration knew it had a winner in its hands. . . .

Then the White House put the uranium claim in the State of the Union Address. . . .

When a draft of the State of the Union was sent to the CIA for vetting . . . the CIA succeeded in getting it changed. They first insisted that Bush not cite the allegation at all. When pressured by members of the National Security Council and other members of Bush's War Cabinet, however, the Agency budged to some extent. The compromise was simple. The claim that Iraq had attempted to obtain uranium from Africa would not be attributed to American intelligence services — the State of the Union would instead pass the buck to the British. . . .

The entire process gone through for the State of the Union makes clear that the War Cabinet knew exactly what they were doing. It is abundantly clear that they knew that, at the very least, the claims were "highly dubious". The mere fact that the CIA insisted on passing the buck shows that the War Cabinet was well aware of the Agency's confidence in the intelligence in question. . . .

If he isn't an uncurious pawn of his advisors, however, the President undoubtedly would have read at least some of the reports regarding the uranium claim. He would certainly have at least heard at some point that the State Department had dismissed the uranium claim as "highly dubious". He would have undoubtedly heard at some point that the CIA had already had the statement removed from one of his speeches, and he'd be aware that the CIA was attempting to remove it from his State of the Union Address.

Online NewsHour: Defending Claims -- July 11, 2003
Ray Suarez discusses the intelligence controversy [of Iraq's purported program to purchase uranium in Africa] with the Washington Post's Walter Pincus and gauges the story's political impact with regular analysts Mark Shields and David Brooks.

RAY SUAREZ: There are people around Washington, Mark, trying to describe this as a tempest in a teapot. One sentence in one speech? How important is this?

MARK SHIELDS: Well, first of all, it was not one sentence in one speech obviously. I mean, it was relied upon by Condi Rice in her op-ed page piece that same week in the state of the union, in the "New York Times" why we know Iraq was lying was the title of it. It was used by Donald Rumsfeld in his press conference the same week with General Myers. So it was the most serious charge that the administration made that the nuclear capability as far as nuclear potential as far as Saddam Hussein. So it was a serious charge. . . .

And I think this hurts because it doesn't appear to be, up to now, any assertiveness on the president's part, no sense of anger or irritation or outrage that he was misled or that he misled the American people in any way. He's unnaturally uncurious about how this all happened and not eager, apparently, to assess accountability about it.

Bush: 'The Wrong Man?'
By Robert Parry
July 9, 2003

An incurious individual who has had limited contact with the world may well make judgments that are artificial and dangerous, perhaps driven more by ideology or wishful thinking than by practical assessments of what power can achieve and what reality looks like.

It is increasingly clear, for example, that Bush grossly miscalculated the situation in Iraq. Not only did Bush overstate the dangers from Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction, but he underestimated the task of pacifying Iraq after the initial assault by U.S. forces.

Bush appears to have bought into his administration’s own propaganda about how easy the war would be. Initially, the thought was that the "shock and awe" bombing of some government buildings in Baghdad would lead to Saddam Hussein’s ouster followed by a rose-petal welcome for U.S. troops and a cooperative transition to a pro-U.S. government in Iraq. Next would come the neo-conservative dream of remaking the Arab world.

Guardian Unlimited Books | By genre | 'Reading can tilt the world ...
'Reading can tilt the world... God knows, we need some tilting'
In the concluding part of their email exchange, Colum McCann and Aleksandar Hemon discuss the function of writers, language and literature in an aliterate culture.
Thursday July 3, 2003

Sasha: You're right, but the assumption behind your (romantic?) hope is that the books will be read. But here you have Bush, a prime product of an aliterate culture, a hero of the fiction of benevolent capitalism, a priest of a languageless, mindless system of belief (rather than thought) - Bush is the exact opposite of poetry, the enemy of language and thought.

Now, I don't mean this to be an invective against the uncurious George, but rather to point at the fact that in the world as imagined by Bush and those many he represents today, books are obsolete; not only unnecessary, but absolutely irrelevant. The Nazis hated books, but George & Co just don't give a damn. A book might change your world, but only the way painkillers change your world when you're in pain - they conceal the pain. And they work only for those in pain.

Citations, Explained, 2007
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Citations, Explained, October–December 2004
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Citations, Explained, October–December 2003
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