Holy schnikes! Add "his father's awkward oratory" to "his brother’s mangled syntax and malapropisms," and . . . here's J-e-b!
"Global affairs?" says Jeb. "You're asking me? You sure you're not thinking onto somebody else? All I got is that French dude with the hotel maid in New York."
One test of a person who stands astride history is his ability to leave his imprint on the language. Usually this would be assumed to be the language he speaks, but in Jeb Bush's case, judging by the speech he gave Wednesday at the luncheon of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, it isn't entirely clear that he has a language.
A lot of the focus so far has been on whether Brother Jeb is or isn't his "own man," relative to his (gulp) presidential pater and big brother, or whether he is someone else's man, or someone is his man, or something. But that is, as they say, the tip of the ice cream. At least I think we can sympathize with his desire to separate himself from his presidential relations.
Not so fast, though. The Washington Post's Dana Milbank was at it again in "Jeb adds to the quotable-Bush canon": observing what politicians do and say -- in this case in particular what the apparent GOP presidential front-runner said, or tried to. I'm just going to jump right to my favorite. It seems that in speaking to a council that is, after all, On Global Affairs, he manned up and acknowledged that his own foreign policy is still not fully formed. At least that seems to be what he had in mind.
"Look," he said (and I think we're all with him so far), "the more I get into this stuff, there are some things [where] you just go, you know, 'Holy schnikes.' "Excuse me? Holy effing what? ("Schnikes," by the way, is presumably Dana's spelling. But then, there really isn't any way of checking it, is there?)
All these years we've been told that Jeb is the smart Bush, the competent Bush. He did, after all, get through two terms as governor of Florida. Is it possible that the bar for talking isn't much higher there than in, say, Texas?
"Eschewing teleprompter," Dana tells us, Jeb "read his speech quickly and, during the question time that followed, leaned forward in a chair, jacket buttoned and legs spread, swigging water with Marco Rubio's gusto."
IN CASE NOBODY'S STARTED A "BOOK OF JEB-ISMS"
Here are Dana's contributions from Thursday's lunch. The first one came "seconds into his speech."
Iraq, or Iran -- or wherever
“We definitely no longer inspire fear in our enemies. The problem is perhaps best demonstrated by this administration’s approach to Iraq.”First I think Dr. Freud would want to make sure that Jeb knows the difference between Iraq and Iran. Somehow I'm guessing he doesn't know any more about the one than the other, and that would be very little.
Whoa! He’s going there — right into the failure that pretty much destroyed his brother’s presidency? Bush continued reading from his text, as if for the first time.
“We’ve had 35 years of experience with Iran,” he went on, then realized his earlier mistake. “Excuse me, Iran. Thirty-five years’ experience with Iran’s rulers.”
Dr. Freud would have been amused.
Return of the "nucular" option, but
without the "charm"
He combined his father’s awkward oratory with his brother’s mangled syntax and malapropisms. Like his brother, he said “nucular” instead of “nuclear,” and he hunched over the lectern with both hands on it — but instead of exuding folksiness, as his brother does, he oozed discomfort.
"A catalytic converter for economic growth"
(Great for the ecology?)
A top priority, he explained, is “reforming a broken immigration system and turning it into an economic — a catalytic converter for sustained economic growth.”
Presumably he was reaching for “catalyst” but instead came up with an automotive emissions-control device.
Hey, Russia, you big bully, get your big fat
dependency off of Europe!
“As we grow our presence by growing our ability to produce oil and gas,” Bush went on, “we also make it possible to lessen the dependency that Russia now has on top of Europe.”
Russia’s dependency on top of Europe? It was, in addition to being backward, a delightful echo of his brother’s belief that it is hard “to put food on your family.”
He's just a gladiator
At another point, discussing NATO’s aggressive stance in the Baltics, Jeb explained that “I don’t know what the effect has been, because, you know, it’s really kind of hard to be out on the road, and I’m just a gladiator these days, so I don’t follow every little detail.”
C'mon, people, he's read articles
Asked about the weakening of nation states in the Middle East, he admitted: “I don’t have a solution. I mean, I—I—I’ve read articles, you know, about whether the 1915 kind of breakout of the Middle East and how that no longer is a viable deal.”
The center of his universe?
The former Florida governor recited his foreign policy credentials, such as opening a bank office in Venezuela. He touted a Latin American free-trade agreement and noted that “where Columba and I live is going to be right in the center of the universe of that free-trade agreement.”
He can see Cuba from his house!
Growing up old-ish
Even the money line of his speech, that he’s his own man, received a distracting grace note when he said: “I love my brother. I love my dad. I actually love my mother as well — hope that’s okay.” (It’s unclear who had suggested otherwise.) “I grew up politically, I guess, in the ’80s,” asserted Bush, who turned 27 in 1980.
What kind of name is "BRIC"?
Bush mimicked some of his big brother’s bravado, using phrases such as “enemies of freedom” and “tighten the noose” and “take them out,” and he defended the surge in Iraq. But what brought him closest to his kin were the random oddities in his speech. He declared that “whoever created the terminology BRIC would have to change the name,” without explaining that BRIC referred to emerging economies Brazil, Russia, India and China.
Is "head of the caliphate" anything
like "head of the class"?
At another point he had trouble coming up with the English name for “Plan Colombia” and explained, “Sometimes my mind switches, and I apologize.” He propounded the curious theory that “the more tepid the economic growth” the less likely NATO members are to “defend themselves” militarily. He said that with President Obama’s “pivot” to Asia, “the rest of the world wonders, am I the pivotee?” And he described the Islamic State leader as “the guy that’s the supreme leader, whatever his new title is, head of the caliphate.”
"If he keeps talking like this, Americans may say the same ["Holy schnikes!"] of him."
NOTE: Washingtonpost.com's right-wing-brained Jennifer Rubin thinks Jeb was brilliant
Just fabulous, especially the way he wowed the crowd in the Q-and-A with the depth of his knowledge of foreign policy. (Well, he probably does know more about foreign policy than, say, Mike Huckabee or Rick Perry or Rafael "Ted from Alberta" Cruz.) In the interest of fairness and balance, in case you were wondering.