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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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Ridiculopathy.com: Bush Touts Rise in Exports [Jobs, Dollars]
Friday February 20, 2004
Humor, not real news

Some in the media have criticized the President for his lack of intellectual curiosity regarding the issues of the day. Bush rebuffed the concerns, explaining that any combination of the words "curious" and "George" constituted a reference to the beloved children's book character and was probably meant to mock him- though he later admitted that if it was a joke, he did not quite get it.

Post-Crescent - State not big among campaign bankrollers
The Post-Crescent
Appleton-Neenah-Menasha, Wisconsin
Posted Feb. 16, 2004
Staff and wire reports
This is the oldest, and so far the only, known use of the word "noncurious" apropos of George W. Bush. However, there are earlier citations for "non-curious" with the hyphen.

Bob Huber, of Appleton, said he gave money to Howard Dean, and now to Sen. John Kerry, in reaction to Bush’s first four years in office, and after reading that Bush said he doesn’t read newspapers.

“I’m an avid reader of newspapers and it scares me a little bit to have a president that is that intellectually noncurious,” he said.

“I fear for a man who has his information processed for him and summarized by high-paid political handlers.”

TIME.com: TIME Magazine Archive -- When Credibility Becomes An Issue -- Feb. 16, 2004
Time Cover Story
When Credibility Becomes An Issue
As the 2004 campaign kicks up, the Administration finds its word questioned on several fronts. TIME looks at Bush's predicament—and his counterattack
Feb. 16, 2004

Bush's fired Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill greeted the President in the New Year with revelations in a tell-all book that made Bush out to be at best incurious and at worst deceitful, bent on war with Iraq from the very first days in office. The manned mission to Mars was rolled out with a flourish and then muted when the polls showed people thought it was a ridiculous waste of money. . . . Next came the admission by the Administration's handpicked weapons hunter, David Kay, that after hundreds of interviews and months of hunting, we had not found any weapon stockpiles after all.

Nor was the link between Saddam and al- Qaeda ever proved. . . .

Talking Politics | Target: JFK
Boston Phoenix
Issue Date: February 13 - 19, 2004

In the past few weeks Bush has a) been forced to admit that he was wrong about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq; b) been shamed by former weapons inspector David Kay into naming a commission to study intelligence failures; c) submitted a budget proposal so deficit-riddled and intellectually dishonest that the conservatives in his own party are furious; d) come under increasing scrutiny on the question of whether he’d gone AWOL from the Texas Air National Guard in the early 1970s; e) been attacked by his former treasury secretary, Paul O’Neill, as an incurious, disengaged stooge of Vice-President Dick Cheney; and f) watched in presumed horror as the investigation into the exposure of CIA undercover agent Valerie Plame moved ever closer to Cheney’s office. All that and the laughable man-on-Mars mission, too. [many paragraphs later, on page 2 . . . ]

The notion that the intelligence agencies somehow failed Bush is a grotesque rewrite of recent history. Last spring, in long, detailed reports, John Judis and Spencer Ackerman (in the New Republic) and Seymour Hersh (in the New Yorker) wrote about how the White House repeatedly p ressured the CIA and other intelligence-gathering groups to give it what it needed, what it wanted, to make the case for war in Iraq.

Article available without subscription:
CNN.com - When credibility becomes an issue - Feb. 10, 2004

The Washington Monthly
Political Animal
By Kevin Drum, formerly of Calpundit
Two relevant comments.

Lemme get this straight.

They took away the pretty pictures when Incurious George took office?

No wonder he never looked at a single intel report.

Posted by: scarshapedstar on February 11, 2004 at 11:18 PM
Can you imagine the feelings of sadness and futility that must overcome people who work hard every day to read, comprehend and boil down reams of complex and crucial intelligence information into a daily briefing book due before dawn every morning to be placed on the desk of a hollow and vacuous man without curiosity who doesn't bother reading that briefing book but rather sits blanky while Karl, Andy, Condi, Scott, Dick, and various other minions try to summarize it and tell him what to think and do and say that day, even though they know that their simplified summaries of world events have little chance of sinking in unless such phrases as "terra" and "shadowy networks" are repeated over and over and over?

Must suck for the intelligence peoples' morale, is all I'm saying.

Posted by: Featherstone on February 12, 2004 at 12:00 AM

Late Night Thoughts...
by Emma
Monday, February 09, 2004
Hating George Bush

For my part, at least, I'd like to say that I don't hate George Bush. I don't hate anyone, that I can think of; it's too time-consuming and unproductive. . . .

However, I will admit that George Bush is not my favorite person in the whole world, but I have reasons. Clear reasons that you might not agree with, but cannot claim to be irrational:

1. He comes across as the most incurious person I've ever encountered. My mother, with a fourth grade education, seems more engaged with the world than the President of the United States. It's not a single thing that I can point to; maybe it's just that I have yet to hear the man give an unscripted talk about any subject, off the cuff.

February 8, 2004 - Is our leader dumb as a post, a liar, or mad as a hatter?
Just Above Sunset

That leaves the idea Bush just doesn't know much, and doesn't want to know much - that he's an incurious fellow who doesn't like details.

MSNBC - Talk Transcript: Making Sense of it All
Thursday, Feb. 5, 2004
Transcript of a chat with members of the public and NEWSWEEK's Investigative Correspondent Michael Isikoff

Spring City: Which is worse; Bush willfilly lied or was ideologically blinded and incurious about the truth?

Michael Isikoff: I think the latter charge--incurious about the truth may be the one the president will have to most seriously answer for.

Bloomberg.com: Bloomberg Columnists
Michael Lewis, whose books include "Liar's Poker," "The New New Thing" and "MoneyBall," is a columnist for Bloomberg News. The opinions expressed are his own.
Did Greenspan Use O'Neill to Send Bush a Signal?: Michael Lewis
Feb. 5, 2004 (Bloomberg)

``The Price of Loyalty,'' by Ron Suskind about Paul O'Neill's two bizarre years as Bush's Treasury secretary, dwells on the president's incuriosity, but the Bush trait exposed by the book is not incuriosity. It's insecurity. . . .

In his two years of weekly private policy meetings with the president, all O'Neill ever got -- after being greeted as ``Pablo'' or ``Big-O'' -- was a blank stare.

``I wondered from the first, if the President didn't know the questions to ask, or did he know and just not want to know the answers?'' O'Neill says.

Bloomberg.com: Bloomberg Columnists
Did Greenspan Use O'Neill to Send Bush a Signal?: Michael Lewis
Michael Lewis , whose books include "Liar's Poker," "The New New Thing" and "MoneyBall," is a columnist for Bloomberg News. The opinions expressed are his own.
February 5, 2004
Michael Lewis proposes that Alan Greenspan used the opportunity of Suskind's The Price of Loyalty to send a message to the Bush administration, especially Dick Cheney, that "the fiscal irresponsibility of the Bush administration had been almost criminal and that the manner in which Bush made decisions was deeply disturbing."

``The Price of Loyalty,'' by Ron Suskind about Paul O'Neill's two bizarre years as Bush's Treasury secretary, dwells on the president's incuriosity, but the Bush trait exposed by the book is not incuriosity. It's insecurity. . . .

``I wondered from the first, if the President didn't know the questions to ask, or did he know and just not want to know the answers?'' O'Neill says.

The Blog from the Core - 02/15/04 02:53:05 PM
Al Gore
Keynote Address to Social Research Conference
"Fear: Its Political Uses And Abuses"
New School University
February 5, 2004
- Remarks as delivered -
Webcast of Gore's talk (Gore appears at 12:30 and main speech begins at 15:15)
The Winter issue of Social Research is published at the end of the year. The Winter 2004 issue of Social Research was devoted to the papers from the thirteenth Social Research conference, which was held at the New School for Social Research, New York, NY, February 5–7, 2004. The conference was titled Fear: Its Political Uses and Abuses, and the keynote address, “The politics of fear,” excerpted here, was by Al Gore. The February 2004 issue on Social Research's own website includes the table of contents but not the article texts. Gore's speech as written

Amazingly enough, the White House still doesn’t seem to really care who forged that document [re: Iraqi WMD]. Imagine for a moment that you were President of the United States. I —


It’s not that hard.


And imagine that you were standing before a joint session of Congress, on live national television, speaking on the one occasion of the year when the Constitution of our nation commands the President to speak directly to the Congress and the American people about the state of the Union. And you delivered an important point on the issue of war and peace. And after your speech the United Nations — which is where the information came from — the United Nations publicly announced that the document you had been given was a forgery.

Would you be embarrassed? Wouldn’t you ask for someone to be accountable for it? Wouldn’t you be interested in who forged the document? And why? And how it got into your hands? And why you were allowed to use it in your State of the Union Address?



Sherlock Holmes was in a famous story in which the clue was the dog that didn’t bark. The White House hasn’t even growled about who forged the document that got into the hands of the President of the United States and was used on national television. I’m curious. Who forged that document? And why has no one proceeded?

The CIA warned his staff — we are told — not to let him use that particular document. But there was some kind of regrettable communications foul up inside the National Security Council. But again the President’s now expressed his determination to find out who the culprit is and who might be responsible for the fact that, again I quote: “We were all wrong”.

Over the past eighteen months I have written and delivered a series of speeches addressing different aspects of President Bush’s policy agenda, including his decision to go to war in Iraq under what I regard as patently false pretenses, including his dangerous assault on civil liberties here at home, his outrageously fraudulent economic policy and his complete and total failure to protect the global environment indeed, his invitation to those most responsible for polluting it to step up the pace. And in preparing and delivering speeches on these topics and others that are related, initially my purposes were limited in each case to the subject matter of the specific speech. However, as I tried to interpret what was driving these various and separate policies certain common features became obvious and a clear pattern emerged.

In every case there was a determined disinterest in the facts. The incuriosity about the document — the forged document I referred to earlier is not out of keeping with the President’s incuriosity in his hour long meeting with Paul O’Neil, with his incuriosity about the substance of the policies in each of these areas. . . . Again, can you imagine being president and hiring someone to head your economic policies and then never asking a single question about those policies during your first protracted meeting with him on the topic? In any case, the first obvious pattern to me was the president's incuriosity about the substance of his policies or even the basic facts in each of these areas.

The second pattern common to the president's approach to all of these areas was an inflexible insistence on carrying out preconceived policies regardless of the evidence concerning what might work and what clearly would not work. In the words of Lewis Carroll: "First the verdict, then the trial."

Blame, Blindness . . . (washingtonpost.com) The Washington Post
By Richard Cohen
Tuesday, February 3, 2004; Page A19
Also appeared February 2 in New York Daily News - News & Views Columnists - Richard Cohen: Iraq was a failure of national leadership, February 3 in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, February 4 in The Miami Herald | 02/04/2004 | I, too, jumped on the bandwagon, and February 7 in Columbia Daily Tribune: Intelligence commission must look beyond CIA.

Finally, though, there was smugness -- the sort of American exceptionalism that so rankles non-Americans. No one better exemplified that than Bush himself. He proclaimed a divine right to unilateralism, oozed a smugness bred of incuriousness and an airy dismissal of dissent. He knew what he knew with such fiery certainty that even now he seems incapable of facing reality. He's like a kid who refuses to accept the fact that there is no Santa Claus.

By all means, proceed with the independent commission. A huge mistake has been made, and we need to know why. But if for a moment we think that it was the CIA alone that took us to war, then we will have learned nothing from what happened. That would be the gravest intelligence failure of them all.

In the Belly of the Beast: The Bush Administration Exposed
The New York Observer 2/2/2004
Book Review by Ward Just
The Price of Loyalty: George W. Bush, the White House, and the Education of Paul O’Neill, by Ron Suskind. Simon and Schuster, 248 pages, $26.

Then, newly sworn in as Secretary of the Treasury, Mr. O’Neill met George W. Bush for lunch. . . . The Treasury Secretary had sent the President a memo, talking points, a sort of tour d’horizon of the economy, which was then perhaps entering a mild recession, perhaps not. . . . There were a number of obvious questions the President would want to ask: How large was the surplus actually? How large a tax cut? Any thoughts on reforming Social Security and Medicare? But the President was silent, incurious, unreadable.

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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