Coming from a woman who speaks fluent Brooklynese and pronounces the word “coffee,” “cawfee” – I try to avoid pointing out enunciation oddities in others. Sounding a lot like a congested Fran Drescher, early on as a Granddawta I learned from Grandma Emma how to “berl erl” before frying eggplant. Largely forgiving of “tawking” mispronunciations, my wide berth excludes only “birfdays,” “youse” and “nuffin.”
Growing up in Brooklyn, George W. Bush’s creative elocution of the word nu-cu-lar, never fazed me. I, as well as most normal Americans, knew what Bush meant and in spite of stumbling and oftentimes mumbling G.W. has proven more adept at expressing core beliefs than dazzling articulator and high-wire word performer Barack Obama.
George Bush always seemed uninterested in Madison Avenue impressions emphasizing instead message over public persona. I chuckled when Bush said, “I’ll be long gone before some smart person ever figures out what happened inside this Oval Office.” Bush never defended obvious linguistic deficits or shortcomings when giving a speech and ignored a mocking press who defined the ex-president’s affliction as proof of Bush’s idiocy.
Truth is reading from a script does not indicate brilliance. John Fund speaking about Bush was of the insightful opinion that, “the inarticulate can often be shrewd and the fluent can often be fatuous.” Take actor Brad Pitt for instance, when reading from a script Pitt can convince viewers he is Jesse James. However, off script starting with deserting Jennifer Aniston for promiscuous Angelina Jolie, Pitt proves time and again the boy’s filaments don’t light up the Brad bulb to its fullest potential.
If Bush chooses to drink “Shakesbeers” instead of Budweiser, so be it. Bush viewing his personal library as “epileptic” puts the former president in a better position to explain “eclectic” health care issues, in a clearer more succinct way, than Obama has thus far. Barack, the president who never stops conveying complicated health care reform concepts, admitted after all those thousands upon thousands of words, “Somehow I’m not breaking through.”
When Bush said, “I am the decider, and I decide what is best,” every one knew what he meant. After 52 addresses or statements on health reform a befuddled Obama remains unfamiliar with the contents embedded within a bill he incessantly promotes. In a fleeting moment of modesty, Obama admitted even he doesn’t understand what the heck he is talking about—which is quite a mouthful coming from Dr. Barry House.
Most Americans know Bush never put on airs. George Bush’s enemies would be hard pressed to disagree that the ex-president is anything but sincere, authentic and genuine. Obama differs greatly from Bush. The President exudes an imperious hauteur, priding himself on purported superior intelligence and above all unprecedented communicative fluency. Waving to the audience from a high wire word perch, Obama emanates self-confidence and cool control and, unlike Bush, is given a pass by the media when losing rhetorical balance on the public stage.
Falling off the trapeze in shiny purple circus tights no only causes injury but can make a person look foolish, which is what Obama did last week when calling Navy corpsmen–corpse-men. Like Sacha Pavlata on a high wire, Obama, master of “ostentatiously exotic” Pock-i-stahn pronunciation, peppered multiple mispronunciations of “corpsmen” with Creole words like “Etazini.” President Obama was so busy showboating French based Haitian Creole he called Navy Corpsman Brossard, both Christian and Christopher in the same sentence.
Maybe it’s me, but juxtaposing familiarity with Creole while appearing clueless about how to pronounce corpsmen [kôr’mən], made Obama look more idiotic than Bush ever could because Bush lacks the unbridled hubris Obama exhibits continually.
George Bush, the affable ex-president, remains endearing and humble—lacking any trace of self-affected pretentiousness. Too bad for Barack whose pompous pronunciation standards have brought attention to the Commander-in-Chief’s inability to pronounce words that truly matter like those identifying United States military personnel. Unlike G.W. Bush, Barack Obama the Flying Wallenda of public speaking may be able to dazzle with foreign phrases, but after wowing the crowd at the National Prayer Breakfast the star of the show fell off the linguistic trapeze.
So as world citizen, Barack Obama continues to astonish only himself by pronouncing Pack-is-tann–Pock-i-stahn, a gerl from Brooklyn remains unimpressed. Why? Because, while Obamer “wawks-the-wawk,” he stumbles badly when it comes to “tawking-the-tawk.” Obama’s Creole “corpse-men” gaffe reveals a lot about the Creole-in-Chief’s priorities. The President’s spoken oversight far overshadows the most bizarre mispronunciation issues uttered by native “New Yawkers,” or any outrageous verbal blunder spoken by the genuinely “misunderestimated,” George W. Bush.