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The Bush Dyslexicon: Observations on a National Disorder Hardcover – May 29, 2001
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From Publishers Weekly
Miller, a New York University professor of media studies, has fashioned a devastating compendium of President George W. Bush's grammatical gaffes, syntactical shipwrecks, mind-boggling malapropisms and simply dumb comments. Page after page (after page) of quotations, suggests Miller, reveal that Bush is a man who, while not stupid, is prodigiously illiterate and woefully uneducated. Further, and compounding the problem, Bush could not care less about these shortcomings. How then, Miller asks, and this is his larger concern, did someone in Miller's opinion so obviously unqualified to be president convince so many voters that he was? Miller's answer is, in a word, television: Bush succeeded on TV not despite his "utter superficiality," but because his superficiality blended seamlessly with the vacuous culture of the tube. It was not simply that Bush's handlers were able to manipulate his image, attempting to construct out of his ignorance an anti-intellectual "good ole boy" persona, but that news professionals in the medium were all too willing to go along with this ploy. They went along because the pundits of TV have become, according to Miller, increasingly right-wing, thus natural Bush allies, but also because they no longer care to talk about substance, preferring instead discussion of "likability" and other attributes of pure image. While Miller is sometimes vague in his arguments, he has produced a sharp-edged polemic questioning the wisdom of how we elect our leaders. As President Bush has said, "It's not the way America is all about."
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
Miller (media studies, New York Univ.; Boxed In: The Culture of TV) suggests that Americans may be suffering from a corporate form of dyslexia: "Seeing that it's all gone wrong, yet always hearing from on high that everything is perfectly all right, we each feel...as helpless and perplexed as any undiagnosed dyslexic." Miller's explanation is that George W. Bush and his handlers have mastered the use of television, highlighting the candidate's hyper-chummy style to sell their theme and message. An opening analysis compares the current President with former Presidents Bush, Nixon, and Johnson, whose images often suffered on television, then shows how the 2000 campaign used television to the candidate's advantage. Miller uses extensive quotes from campaign appearances, television interviews, and the televised debates to demonstrate how the candidate focused on canned "theme" and "message" texts while repeatedly revealing through body language and malapropisms what he may actually have been thinking. Miller makes no effort to be unbiased and is sometimes openly contemptuous, but the analysis is thoughtful and the quotes are accurate and well documented. Recommended for media studies collections. Jill Ortner, SUNY at Buffalo Libs.
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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One of the main arguments concurs with a previous suggestions that Bush has dyslexia. The author, while leaving this as a possibility, goes to further to suggest that Bush is an amnesiac. For this reason, Bush mixes up pre-rehersed answers to questions in his mind, only getting small memorized portions correct. Also, Bush has trouble answering any question straight without falling back on some previous touchy-feely jargon. Does he even remember the question asked. We know W. is not the most intelligent man, but he is a product of the system. The book explains the conspiracy that got Bush into the oval office. Yes, it was Daddy's money and his rich friends. Also, explain how Daddy's money influenced the media. Was it an accident that rather focusing on Gore's knowledge of the issues that the media focused on W.'s image as a good ole boy? Why is it that Americans never heard the story of W.'s bro is Florida altering the voter list illegally? And believe me, W.'s record as the governor of Texas is less than sparkling.
Truthfully, this book would take further explanation than the 1,000 words I am allowed. But if you are concerned about the state of democracy in America, this book should be on your read list. And the Democrat presidential candidate should be on your voter list in 2004.
Instead what happened was that I took an enormously long time finishing a book that scared the ... out of me. I couldn't sit and read this for long stretches at a time and so it took me literally weeks to finish. Miller has an agenda--I won't deny that. And even as left leaning as I am, I still thought that a few of his points were stretched--he would quote something and then give his interpretation of what it meant, and I would disagree. For the most part, however, he paints a pretty vivid picture of our current administration.
I won't get into summarizing or citing examples, because then I'd be here all day, but I'll say that as long as it is read with both eyes open and your critical thinking hat on to pick out the times when he's reaching a bit too hard, it's a good book and I'd recommend it. I bought a copy for my mom.
I think the guy is smarter than we give him credit for. He has all this political stuff memorized and can dodge any question with nonsense that's the envy of a constipated bull. But nobody seems to pay attention to his real record in Texas, the one that ramped its pollution to the top polluter in the US, and gave business the keys to the henhouse, so to speak.
Mark Crispin Miller is not a Bush fan. If you can't read books by people who don't agree with you, and you happen to be a Bush fan, then this book probably won't sit well with you, although arguably you would benefit from it. There is a lot of information in the book, sometimes told ungently, but Miller never stoops to some of the name calling and accusations so common in political screed. He lets Bush do most of the talking, after the first few chapters that tell us the background of the Bush family, and when Bush talks, things get scary. Lots of anecdotes, lots of quotes from lots of people. It's an important book to have just so you get some idea what we really have up there as chief mouthpiece of the paranoid rightwing.
This appears to be a vastly misunderstood work. I understand that some bookstores stack this in the "humor" or "political humor" (if they have one) sections. That's like placing "Animal Farm" in the children's section because it has talking pigs and horses. Personally, I don't find disabilities amusing (Bush's no less than any others) and Miller seems to make it clear he feels the same way. Also, the joke has been running on too long by this time to be funny.
The other mistake is that this is simply an attack by a liberal professor against the conservative Bush president. Yes, Miller is obviously a liberal and does attack Bush with a near lethal precision of insight and logic -- the kind Peggy Noonan wishes she had -- but "Dyslexicon" is every bit as much about the rest of us as it is about Bush. It is about how our superficial media allows a creature such as Bush to exist and even flourish.
Regardless of how you feel about the current president Bush, reading Dyslexicon is very instructive in understanding the psychology of others, particularly politicians. That's a useful skill in this day and age.
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I've given the subject some thought and have come to the conclusion that if I were a U.S.Read more