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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 2004

The Washington Monthly

Although it's unlikely - since Bush has been preparing for more than a week now - I wish that Kerry could somehow provoke a facial reaction from Bush that illustrates how dangerously uncurious, how arrogantly unconcerned, how happily unaware he is, apparently, of events in Iraq now.

I mean, Bush is famously unread and only selectively curious, so there must be BIG areas where he has zip knowledge.

Posted by: flike on September 29, 2004 at 6:55 PM

Newsday.com - Opinion
Les Payne
Incurious George is a national joke
September 26, 2004

It was, however, Bush's towering lack of intellect that defined him. "That (Bush) coasted on his family name was understandable," said Yale frat brother Tom Wilner. "Lots of guys do that. But Georgie, as we called him then, has absolutely no intellectual curiosity about anything. He wasn't interested in ideas or books or causes. He didn't travel; he didn't read the newspapers; he didn't watch the news ... How he got out of Yale without developing some interest in the world besides booze and sports stuns me."

BAW: Commentary: Bush's Diversity Claim about Words, not Reality
Date: Monday, September 13, 2004
By: Deborah Mathis, BlackAmericaWeb.com

As he told a convention of black, Latino, Asian and Native American journalists last month, his administration is diverse "and I'm proud of that."

Apparently, too, most Americans have been willing to accept that claim at face value -- meaning that Bush's famous incuriousity has rubbed off on too many of his countrymen. He has learned to count on it. It’s what allowed him to bamboozle the nation into war and keep it bogged down in conflict and loss. Too many people just take him at his word.

The New Yorker: Fact
Al Gore lives on a street in Nashville.
Issue of 2004-09-13
Posted 2004-09-06
Long and interesting article about Al Gore now. In the article is a link to the audio of a song about Al Gore by Nashville neighbor Robert Ellis Orrall.

“I’m not of the school that questions his intelligence,” Gore went on. “There are different kinds of intelligence, and it’s arrogant for a person with one kind of intelligence to question someone with another kind. He certainly is a master at some things, and he has a following. He seeks strength in simplicity. But, in today’s world, that’s often a problem. I don’t think that he’s weak intellectually. I think that he is incurious. It’s astonishing to me that he’d spend an hour with his incoming Secretary of the Treasury and not ask him a single question. But I think his weakness is a moral weakness. I think he is a bully, and, like all bullies, he’s a coward when confronted with a force that he’s fearful of. His reaction to the extravagant and unbelievably selfish wish list of the wealthy interest groups that put him in the White House is obsequious. The degree of obsequiousness that is involved in saying ‘yes, yes, yes, yes, yes’ to whatever these people want, no matter the damage and harm done to the nation as a whole—that can come only from genuine moral cowardice. I don’t see any other explanation for it, because it’s not a question of principle. The only common denominator is each of the groups has a lot of money that they’re willing to put in service to his political fortunes and their ferocious and unyielding pursuit of public policies that benefit them at the expense of the nation.”

DesMoinesRegister.com | Politics
Des Moines Register
Author praises, chides Bush
David Gergen tells students that they live at a historic moment.
September 12, 2004

"There is no evidence - none - that President Bush engaged in long, hard questioning about whether we should go into Iraq and what should happen if we won," Gergen said.

"I have deep questions about the lack of curiosity that seems almost like a badge of honor," Gergen added later. "Wouldn't you feel a lot better if he said he read the newspapers? I know I would."

Salon.com News | Sen. Graham: Bush covered up Saudi involvement in 9/11
By Mary Jacoby
Sept. 8, 2004

[Interviewer:] Let's move from 9/11 and the Saudis to the invasion of Iraq. Do you believe the president misled the American public about the justification for the invasion and the urgency of the security threat?

[Sen. Bob Graham (D-FL):] If he believed the evidence that was being presented to him -- that there were 550 sites in Iraq where weapons of mass destruction were being either produced or stored -- then he was very noncurious about finding out what the basis of that information was. He should have pursued the credibility of the intelligence before he committed us to taking one of the most serious actions any country can take. The user of intelligence has the responsibility to challenge the credibility of the intelligence. When [then CIA director] George Tenet said it was a slam-dunk that there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, the president supinely accepted that.

The New York Times > Opinion > Bush 'on the Couch'
Letters to the Editor
Bush 'on the Couch'
Published: September 3, 2004

To the Editor:

In "Bush Dismisses Idea That Kerry Lied on Vietnam" (front page, Aug. 27), President Bush said he would resist going "on the couch" to rethink his decisions about the occupation of Iraq.

While he uses this figure of speech to disclaim any interest in learning from his mistakes or, for that matter, from history, he's also making a backhanded stab at psychoanalysis, as if to say that not understanding oneself is a matter of pride.

Forget analysis; his lack of curiosity and empathy makes him unsuitable for it. But his apparent incapacity for even the slightest degree of self-awareness and self-inquiry is his most troubling - and dangerous - quality.

Kerry J. Sulkowicz, M.D.
New York, Aug. 29, 2004
The writer is a clinical professor of psychiatry, New York University School of Medicine.

The Christian Science Monitor
posted Sept. 1, 2004
A kinder, gentler Bush?
Laura Bush and Arnold Schwarzenegger add feminine touch and inclusive appeal to Bush persona.
By Brad Knickerbocker | Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

Contrary to his opponents' depiction of the president as impulsive, inflexible, and incurious, Laura Bush told the wildly friendly audience that her husband is thoughtful, deliberate, and kind-hearted.

The New York Times > Opinion > Op-Ed Columnist: Crowning Prince George
Published: September 1, 2004

The paramount lesson in Shakespeare's plays is that the world is full of nuances and uncertainties, and that leaders self-destruct when they are too rigid, too sure of themselves or - Mr. President, lend me your ears - too intoxicated by moral clarity. . . .

A related lesson for Mr. Bush, if he has time to read Shakespeare, is the inevitability of intelligence failures. In just about every play, characters put their faith in information that turns out to be catastrophically untrue. Lear believes his elder daughters; Romeo believes that Juliet is dead; Othello believes Iago's lies.

Shakespeare begins "Henry IV, Part 2," with the character of Rumor (who could today be played by Ahmad Chalabi), and he shows how kings get in trouble by relying on partial truths or flattery spun by sycophants like Goneril Tenet and Regan Wolfowitz.

"All these figures in Shakespeare suffer from hubris, and that's what W. is suffering from," says Kenneth Albers, a veteran Shakespearean actor who is playing Lear in Ashland. . . .

Shakespeare is warning us against rash actions on the basis of flawed intelligence. Hamlet is sometimes seen as an indictment of indecision, but his "to be or not to be" soliloquy is a careful examination of the pros and cons of immediate action - a measured approach that Mr. Bush might have emulated before the Iraq war.

Instead, Mr. Bush emulates Coriolanus, a well-meaning Roman general and aristocrat whose war against barbarians leads to an early victory but who then proves so inflexible and intemperate that tragedy befalls him and his people.

Unless Mr. Bush learns to see nuance and act less rashly, he will be the Coriolanus of our age: a strong and decisive leader, imbued with great talent and initially celebrated for his leadership in a crisis, who ultimately fails himself and his nation because of his rigidity, superficiality and arrogance.

August 2004

25 Things We Now Know
25 Things We Now Know
Three Years After 9/11
Bernard Weiner
Co-Editor, The Crisis Papers
August 30, 2004

24. We know from "insider" memoirs and reports by former Bush Administration officials -- Joseph DeIulio, Paul O'Neill, Richard Clarke, et al. -- that the public interest plays little role in the formulation of policy inside the Bush Administration. The motivating factors are greed and control and remaining in political power. Further, they say, there is little or no curiosity to think outside the political box, or even to hear other opinions -- in other words, don't bother me with facts, my mind's made up. Some of this non-curiosity may be based in fundamentalist religious, even Apocalyptic, beliefs.

This is What Democracy Looks Like, by Mark Drolette
Democratic Underground
August 31, 2004

I've honestly wondered if Bush has ever even read the Constitution. His incuriosity is no secret. His arrogance is obvious, and he wears his religiosity on his sleeve as if it were some sort of bona fide substitute for real humility. He gives no indication of understanding that, by law, he works for us and not the other way around; on the contrary, his remarks and actions show he clearly luxuriates in his power, from his issuing of extensive executive orders to declaring American citizens "enemy combatants." . . .

Having been so shielded from the very beginning of his presidency, I think it's a safe bet to say he truly is unaware of how much he is despised around the world and in his very own country. Because Bush's inner circle (his "praetorian guard," O'Neill called it in Ron Suskind's book The Price of Loyalty) has been largely successful in isolating him from hearing almost any opposition to his screwy ideas, Bush almost assuredly would have been surprised to read (or have read to him) the signs at Sunday's uplifting march in New York City: "The True Patriot Act: Dump Bush," "Quagmire Accomplished," "Neither Compassionate Nor Conservative," "Re-Defeat Bush." I'm sure "Let's Start a Democracy" and, my favorite, "Let's Evolve Already," would have gone right by him, too.

25 Things We Now Know
The Crisis Papers
25 Things We Now Know Three Years After 9/11
Bernard Weiner, Co- Editor, The Crisis Papers
August 30, 2004
Stridently and boldly lists ways that the Bush administration has covered up the real 9/11 story; planned to attack Iraq long before 9/11/2001; subverts civil liberties; and is conspiring to prevent an honest vote count in 2004.

24. We know from "insider" memoirs and reports by former Bush Administration officials -- Joseph DeIulio, Paul O'Neill, Richard Clarke, et al. -- that the public interest plays little role in the formulation of policy inside the Bush Administration. The motivating factors are greed and control and remaining in political power. Further, they say, there is little or no curiosity to think outside the political box, or even to hear other opinions -- in other words, don't bother me with facts, my mind's made up. Some of this non-curiosity may be based in fundamentalist religious, even Apocalyptic, beliefs.

Athens - Olympic Games 2004
The Star (South Africa)
Never misunderestimate President Bush
August 30 2004 at 08:08AM
Originally published on page 8 of The Star on August 30, 2004
Based on the AP story by Nancy Benac, August 25, 2004

George Bush is asked to make the closing speech at the Olympic Games.

He stands on the podium and looks at the prompt and begins to read.

"Ohh Ohh Ohh Ohh Ohh."

An aide rushes up to him and whispers: "Mr President! That's the Olympic symbol. Your speech starts under it."

This is one of the latest anti-Bush jokes doing the rounds. . . .

But even some of Bush's defenders speak of a lack of intellectual heft.

Former speechwriter David Frum says in his book that while the president's virtues outweigh his faults, Bush is "often uncurious and as a result ill-informed, more conventional in his thinking than a leader probably should be".

More biting criticism has come from another former insider. Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill, who was fired by Bush, described the president as like a "blind man in a roomful of deaf people".

The Character Question (washingtonpost.com)
The Washington Post
The Character Question
By Sebastian Mallaby
Monday, August 30, 2004; Page A23

In his zeal to be a strong leader, and in his disdain for policy detail, Bush sometimes defends positions that have no intellectual basis. . . .

Even if you accept the case for war, the way Bush has argued it raises fundamental character issues. Why did he claim links between al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein despite the lack of evidence? Had he failed to absorb the facts, or was he being plain dishonest? Why did he allow the postwar planning to be so scandalously poor? Could he not be bothered to cross-examine the officials who were drawing up plans that would determine his standing in history? Bush appears to have been deaf to the chorus of outside experts who warned that nation-building would be difficult. Doesn't this illustrate a lazy lack of curiosity about how bold ideas will play out in the real world? Doesn't this raise doubts about Bush's fitness to be president?

Newsday.com - National News
(New York) Newsday
Sunday, August 29, 2004
The filtered leader
Martin Schram, a syndicated columnist and former Newsday Washington bureau chief, has covered every president since Lyndon B. Johnson.
Long and interesting analysis, very much worth reading.

As he has said, he chooses not to read newspapers or watch television news, figuring his top advisers are his best "objective" source for telling him all he needs to know. . . .

As a conservative ideologue, Bush 43 does bear some resemblance to Ronald Reagan, to whom Bush is often compared by his admirers. Indeed, reaching beyond mere ideology, Reagan and Bush 43 rose to the top despite being remarkably incurious men who were not given to working late, preferring to leave the office in time to be in the residence for early dinners and early bedtimes. . . .

Presidential historians have written extensively about how isolated presidents can be from the real truths of the world around them. Most presidents, understanding that, have entered office vowing that they would not allow themselves to be walled off from the outside world by the palace guard that is the White House staff.

But Bush has not appeared concerned about that -- a fact that became stunningly clear when he was interviewed by Fox News' Brit Hume last year. Bush said he relies on Card, his chief of staff, and national security adviser Condoleezza Rice to be his "objective" sources for whatever he needs to know. It was an unblinking admission of a practice that separates Bush from any president in modern history.

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. ... I glance at the headlines just to kind of a flavor for what's moving. I rarely read the stories ...

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

BUSH: Practice since day one. ... 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. ... 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. . . .

Bush does not relish revisiting and rethinking his decisions -- especially the decisions that led to the U.S. invasion of Iraq and the military casualties that continue more than a year after he flew to the USS Abraham Lincoln aircraft carrier in a military jet and posed beneath a banner that read: "Mission Accomplished."

In an interview with The New York Times Thursday, Bush went a bit further than he had before, allowing that his aides had miscalculated what would happen on the ground in the event of a quick victory over Saddam Hussein's army.

"It's a miscalculation of the -- what the conditions would be like after a swift victory, because we never dreamt it would be that swift," Bush said. Instead of standing and fighting as U.S. planners anticipated, Saddam's army dispersed. . . .

A man of no doubt

Unlike many heads of state who send troops into war, Bush says he is not beset by doubts. Bob Woodward wrote that when he interviewed Bush for his book "Plan of Attack," he told the president about what British Prime Minister Tony Blair had said about receiving letters from parents who'd lost sons in the war in Iraq and who said they hated Blair because of it. Woodward read Bush this quote from Blair: "And don't believe anyone who tells you when they receive letters like that they don't suffer doubt."

"Yeah," Bush replied (as quoted in Woodward's book). "I haven't suffered doubt."

"Is that right?" Woodward asked. "Not at all?"

"No. And I'm able to convey that to the people. I hope I'm able to convey that in a humble way."

Opinion - StatesmanJournal.com
Statesman Journal, Salem, Oregon
August 27, 2004
Letters to the Editor
Kerry well-informed, man of integrity

George W. Bush is an intellectually incurious man with disturbingly shameless ties to corporate interests, who has unceasingly pursued and established policies against the social, economic and environmental interests of the American people, and whose arrogance has cost our country security, allies and the esteem of other nations.

— Stuart Sparkman, Salem

The Liberal Coalition
Wednesday, August 25, 2004
posted by Charles2 @ 9:54 AM
Not So Swift
Also posted to The Fulcrum August 25, 2004 at 8:30 am.

Anyone who talks about and bases their decisions on the nuance and the shades of grey of a particular point will earn the epithet of "flip-flopper." While those who are unchanging regardless of how the world shifts beneath their feet are hailed as "steady leadership in times of change." If you learn from history you are too "sensitive" to be an effective leader. Somehow, our current president's incuriousness is seen as charming and likeable.

MyDD :: Comments :: Bush Lied About Serving in the Air Force

I'd give the Shrub the benefit of the doubt.  The distinction between "Guardsman on active duty" and "active duty Air Force" strikes me as rather a subtle one, of which a young lieutenant of (at best) average intelligence might well have been unaware at the time. Given his notable incuriousity about the world in general, it's not surprising that he wouldn't have bothered to find out whether he was technically "in the Air Force" or not.  In other words, this is probably not a case of Bush lying; it looks a case of Bush being dumb.  Never presume malice where ignorance will suffice.

by Anonymous Hero on Wed Aug 25th, 2004 at 05:58:17 PM EST

Steadfast, disciplined, Bush sees himself as unchanged by events of presidency
San Francisco Chronicle
AP Breaking News
NANCY BENAC, Associated Press Writer
Wednesday, August 25, 2004, 11:58 PDT WASHINGTON (AP)
Benac's column reappeared slightly modified Nov. 1, 2004 as George W. Bush: Resolute, 'man-of-action' style | The Arizona Daily Star ®.

But even some of Bush's defenders speak of a lack of intellectual heft.

Former speechwriter David Frum says in his book that while the president's virtues outweigh his faults, Bush is "often uncurious and as a result ill-informed, more conventional in his thinking than a leader probably should be." More biting criticism has come from another former insider. Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill, who was fired by Bush, described the president as like a "blind man in a roomful of deaf people."

The New York Times > Opinion > Guest Columnist: Babies and Bath Water
Published: August 19, 2004

The campaign to cast Mr. Bush as a bumbling child ignores the very grown-up machine that stands behind him. Infantilizing the president shifts the focus away from the Cheneys, Rumsfelds, Ashcrofts and Wolfowitzes. These are the men who promised us short, easy wars and painless little suspensions of the Geneva Conventions. These are the men of the secret energy-policy meetings. They aren't a bunch of rowdy juveniles. They represent one of the most secretive, powerful administrations in recent memory. Whether the president could outscore your kids on the SAT is a distraction from that fact.

Finally, there is a psychological consequence to labeling the president an incurious frat boy. With each attempt to cast Mr. Bush as a baby, we craft excuses for his childish behaviors. If Mr. Bush misled us into a war in Iraq, it's because children have trouble telling the truth. If Mr. Bush sees the world in too-stark terms, it's because nuanced reasoning isn't easy for children. With each comparison between the president and a youngster, we subtly lower national expectations and exonerate bad behavior.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004
The intellectual shortcomings of Incurious George will doom us all
Posted by Sako on 08/17 at 06:02 AM

Niagara Falls Reporter Opinion
By Bill Gallagher
Bill Gallagher, a Peabody Award winner, is a former Niagara Falls city councilman who now covers Detroit for Fox2 News.
Aug. 10 2004

Unlike so many of his critics, I do not believe, nor have I ever suggested, that George W. is dumb. Ignorant, yes, especially in his dealings with the rest of the world, but he's hardly stupid. Sure, he's inarticulate, incurious and intellectually lazy.

The only facts he cares about are those that support his preconceived opinions. He makes decisions based -- by his own admission -- on what "my gut tells me."

In dangerous situations requiring subtlety, delicacy and sophistication, George W. relies on his political primitivism, sold as boldness, but it is really disguised recklessness. That instinctive behavior has consistently brought great harm to our nation and the world.

NSLog(); - Bushism
August 06, 2004

So basically he is unwilling or incapable of learning... [ellipsis in original] in the sense that he doesn't really care to expand beyond his current understanding.
Posted by: Samual Icky on August 6, 2004 10:50 AM

I would venture to guess he doesn't like to have his vision clouded with curiosity. To me that is a key component to learning, lack of curiosity shows tunnel vision and a total contempt to anyone outside the neoconservative movement.
Posted by: Samual Icky on August 6, 2004 05:13 PM

July 2004

Independent.co.uk (The London Independent)
'Kerry the hero' starts countdown to dislodge Bush from White House
As his party gathers for this week's convention, it's make-or-break time for the Democrat challenger
By Rupert Cornwell in Washington
25 July 2004

The famously incurious Mr Bush likes difficult issues boiled down to one-page summaries. Mr Kerry, by contrast, knows those issues inside out and thrives on nuance. Mr Bush sees things in black and white, Mr Kerry in countless shades of grey.

American Prospect Online - ViewWeb
The Fog of Advisers
Bureaucrats tend to look after their own interests -- even when they conflict with our national security. It’s too bad George W. Bush can’t tell the difference between good advice and bad.
By Matthew Yglesias
Matthew Yglesias is a Prospect writing fellow. His column on politics and the media appears every Tuesday.
Web Exclusive: 07.20.04

When a president really wants to focus on an issue of national importance, he normally consults widely and figures out the difference between genuine advice and bureaucratic self-promotion. Now, though, we have a president who proclaims that he doesn't read newspapers, who values loyalty above all else, and who is, to use the current euphemism, rather intellectually uncurious relative to his predecessors. The result is that when key advisers don't want something to change, it doesn't change, even though reform would be both in the country's interest and the president's. So reports pile on top of reports -- but if no one in the Oval Office reads them, they make no sound and lead to no reforms. And the situation won't change until the country has a president with the wherewithal to lead where the country needs to go, whether or not his advisers like it.

The Capital Times (Madison, Wisconsin)
Editorial: Not-so-Curious George (Bush)
Published: 7:06 AM 7/19/04

How can the president be so ill-informed? How can he not recognize what people around the planet, and an ever-growing percentage of the American population, see so clearly: That the invasion and occupation of Iraq drew resources, energy and attention away from efforts to combat the most serious threats facing the United States and the world? . . .

It is entirely possible that President Bush really does not know that his approach to the war on terror has been a failure. Whether he scans the headlines, as Laura suggests, or really does avoid contact with news that has not been filtered by his staff, all indications are that this president is not a curious man. And his lack of curiosity is not just frightening. In times like these, it is dangerous.

Teresa Heinz Kerry, the wife of Democratic presidential contender John Kerry, says that America needs "a president who is not fazed by complexity, a president who likes to read." President Bush's claim that he has made America safer, which we fear he may actually believe, proves her point.

The Globe and Mail
Ambassador Cellucci and Canadian-U.S. ties
Monday, July 19, 2004 - Page A14

Many Canadians on the centre-left have come to attribute to [U.S. Ambassador to Canada and former Massachussetts Governor] Mr. [Paul] Cellucci the same failings they see in his political mentor, Mr. Bush, and in the U.S. generally: a black-and-white view of the world, a lack of curiosity about other cultures and a tendency to unilateralism.

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