Dateline: Paris. Newsflash, the Parisiens are different from you and me. They’re not really keeping up with the twenty-four hour news cycle of attack, counter-attack in the U.S presidential election.
I’m probably the only person in this city, awake at 5:00AM, wondering about the use of unhinged. It’s not a new word. Used in the sense of mentally deranged, upset, unglued, it dates back to the 1700’s. We just haven’t heard it used by a presidential candidate.
The opening line for small talk with tourists is, “Where are you from?” and Texas is always a conversation starter. Tonight, our waiter hearkened all the way back to George W. Bush.
“Ah. President Bush! One time he said, ‘I know the human being and fish can co-exist peacefully.’ He really said that.” I didn’t remember, but I checked, and at least one website supports his recollection. https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/191416-i-know-the-human-being-and-fish-can-co-exist-peacefully The waiter was accusing George W. of being inarticulate rather than unhinged.
We had many remarkable quotes from W’s dad, George H.W., as discussed in a prior blog entry: http://shirleyredwine.com/2016/05/16/word-of-the-week-delete/For many Texans, George W’s tenure is too recent for nostalgia, but my research did come up examples that show why he’s remembered so well in Europe. Take a look at http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/bushisms/2000/03/the_complete_bushisms.html.
“Thank you, your Holiness. Awesome speech,” he said, and, regarding his relationship with Tony Blair, “I’ve heard he’s been called Bush’s poodle. He’s bigger than that.”
While he protested the reporting on his gaffes, to his credit he didn’t actually deny that he said whatever he just said, like a deranged person might do. “I don’t particularly like it when people put words in my mouth either, by the way, unless I say it,” was the way he said it.
W. portrayed himself as a simple man. “One of the great things about books is, sometimes there are some fantastic pictures.” And sometimes he just seemed confused, “All I can tell you is, when the governor calls, I answer his phone.” In the end, he seemed to have low expectations for his legacy. “I’ll be long gone before some smart person figures out what happened in this oval office.”
Perhaps the French think they’ve seen it all in U.S. politics, and that accounts for the great Gallic shrug to this election.