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BUSH AND DYSLEXIA

below...
Bush Team Stonewalls
Mo Paul's Dyslexia and Bush
Bush's Dyslexic Denial
Bush Stiffs Dyslexics
The Larry King Show
Diognosticians Comment
Kill the Messenger
Sheehy Fights Back

"I've got confidence in the Palestinians, when they understand fully what we're saying, that they'll make the right decisions," said Bush. But he warned: "I can assure you, we won't be putting money into a society which is not transparent and corrupt, and I suspect other countries won't either." --Reuters, 06.26.02

"During his recent weeklong European tour, President Bush chose France of all places to become testy and defensive about Europeans' general chilliness toward him. He pounced on an American reporter whose double faux pas was to ask him why "there are such strong sentiments in Europe against you and your administration" and to invite, in French, President Jacques Chirac to comment. "I'm impressed," Mr. Bush deadpanned. "Que bueno. Now I'm literate in two languages." Mr. Bush's bad reaction probably was due largely to jet lag. " --Dallas Morning News, 06.04.02

DO WE REALLY WANT A PART-TIME PRESIDENT?

How Bush's Language Problems and Short Attention Span Would Affect Us

A reporter recently used Texas public information laws to obtain 900 pages of George W. Bush's governor's schedules and correspondence and discovered "a governor who works short hours and spends little time studying specific issues or working on executive matters. The schedules show that Mr. Bush typically had his first office meeting about 9 a.m., took two hours of "private time" at lunch for a run, and then wrapped up his last meeting by about 5 p.m. A large portion of the officially scheduled meetings were "photo opportunities," interviews with reporters, or meetings with school groups or other ceremonial occasions. Relatively little of the day was devoted to hard-core examination of the issues." NYT reporter Nicholas D. Kristof goes on to note that the schedules were taken from one of Bush's busiest periods as governor, 1997, a year in which the Texas Legislature met.

Since Bush has often told the nation to look at his Texas record to determine what kind of president he would be, one wonders how he would function under the extreme pressures and very long days common to the presidency. Bush is unwilling to put a label on his language and attention problems, which appear to be the reason for his short days in the governor's office. However, his friends and business acquaintances have commented on these problems.

Doug Hannah, a friend since childhood, has found that the attention problem runs in the family: "They have an attention span of about an hour." When he and George were boys, he remembers, "Mr. Bush would pick us up to take us to the movies and leave after an hour and 20 minutes.... At ball games George would sometimes want to leave in the fifth inning." "Even today," writes Gail Sheehy in the October Vanity Fair, "nothing engages Bush's attention for more than an hour, an hour max—more like 10 or 15 minutes. His workday as governor of Texas is "two hard half-days," as his chief of staff, Clay Johnson, describes it. He puts in the hours from 8 to 11:30 A.M., breaking it up with a series of 15-minute meetings, sometimes 10-minute meetings, but rarely is there a 30-minute meeting, says Johnson. At 11:30 he's "outtahere." He tries everything possible to have at least two hours of what he calls private time in the middle of the day to go over to the University of Texas track or run a hard three to five miles on a concrete path at a pace of 7.5 minutes a mile, then relax and return to the office at 1:30, where he'll play some video golf or computer solitaire until about three, and then it's back to the second "hard half-day" until 5:30."

It's not just that Bush begins to lose focus earlier than most administrators in high pressure jobs, but his language breaks down and he sometimes becomes incomprehensible. When reporters began writing about his language difficulties after the New Hampshire primaries, excuses were made by both Bush spinners and sympathetic reporters that he only made his language gaffes late in the day. Then it was late in the day and early in the morning. After that it was late in the day, early in the morning, and when under pressure. Then Bush began to schmooze with reporters on his plane and we were given stories that he didn't sleep well on the road and missed the comfort of his Austin bed. All of these explanations are true, but they don't really get to the heart of the matter. Bush appears to be incapable of working long, hard, pressure-filled days, the kind of days common to the presidency, without suffering a loss of attention and an inability to clearly communicate. Can we afford a president who works a six hour day and devotes little of those hours to "studying specific issues or working on executive matters"? Bush may want to do more, but his language and attention problems appear to prevent him from doing more. --Politex, 10/17/00

"As the presidential campaign began early in 1999, Bush opted to stay home in Texas until later in the year. As a candidate, much was written about his fondness for days off, light schedules and a traveling pillow. So what's Bush doing as president? "I'll answer some questions and I'm gonna head home and take a nap." That's what Bush said Sunday before addressing a retreat for Democratic House members in western Pennsylvania. The remark confirmed a common stereotype about Bush, particularly in comparison to his peripatetic predecessor. Compared to the omnipresent Clinton, Bush prefers the serenity within the White House walls. Since his inauguration, he has had five events fully open to the press. Clinton often held three or four in a week. Bush's staff has demurred on the question of a news conference. Where Clinton was effusive, Bush is contained. A weary Clinton spent six hours shaking hands with hordes of visitors, some uninvited, at a White House open house after his inauguration. Bush appeared only briefly at his open house with a carefully selected group of visitors." --WP, 2/9/01

"George W. doesn't seem to be getting his usual ample hours of sleep. Though not doing much of substance, he has to be awake much longer than he is used to, and his few unscripted remarks have been often testy." --Chicago Sun Times

In Severe Denial. Bush's Language Problem

This evening on MSNBC Bush told Brian Williams, "Over the course of this campaign, I might have flubbed ten words." This is a gross underestimation from a man who is in severe denial about his serious language problem. Here's a list of 28 words that we recall offhand. They have been mispronounced, misused or both. "Nuclear, anecdotes, subliminable, interface, hostile, forethought, analyzation, subscribe, cufflink, tenants, vulcanize, pillared, gist, miscalculated, preservation, mental, presumptive, inebriating, compassionated, tactical, admirably, strategic, conservatism, obsfucate, subsidation, terriers, bariffs, emotionality." Many of these words have been abused over and over again. This list just represents Bush's diction problem. He also has a severe grammar problem ("Is our children learning?) as well as serious difficulties with syntax ("I am against hard quotas, quotas they basically delineate based upon whatever.") His sense of parallelism is faulty ("It is not Reaganesque to support a tax plan that is Clinton in nature.'') and his use of conventional figures of speech are often unclear ("We ought to make the pie higher"). Brian Williams told Bush that one writer recently suggested he may be dyslexic. Bush called the suggestion "foolish" and said the writer was "writing fiction." Dyslexia, which affects how a person processes language, has been said to run in families and affects males in particular. Ex-President Bush's language difficulties in public were described as "dyslexic" more than once, and Barbara Bush wrote an article at that time in the Washington Post about W's younger brother Neil's dyslexia. Given that as background, it's curious that Bush has been so dismissive about the possibility that his "tortured syntax" and "verbal howlers" are the results of dyslexia. --Politex, 9/20/00


Part Two: The Bush Team Stonewalls the Dyslexia Question

There is evidence that Bush knew he was going to be asked the question of his possible dyslexia weeks before advance copies of Gail Sheehy's Vanity Fair article on Bush reached reporters. By then, the decision was apparantly made to stonewall reporters with misleading responses to the question. When the story broke on Monday, Sept. 11, one aide suggested Sheehy had George W. mixed up with brother Neil, who has dyslexia. Communications Director Karen Hughes said to reporters, "No, the governor does not have dyslexia. In this case fiction is stranger that truth." Bush spokesman Ray Sullivan went even further, telling reporters that Sheehy "was informed prior to publication of this article that the governor is not dyslexic....This is not a credible story. Most journalists when presented with the facts would choose to report the facts rather than something that is not true." (Reuters, 9/11) To sum up, then, the Bush response to Sheehy's story about dyslexia and Bush is that she's not a good reporter because she's presenting fiction in the guise of fact and that she's a liar. These are pretty heavy charges against someone who never wrote that Bush was dyslexic. The closest she comes to doing so is to write that a Bush essay written at Phillips Academy "may have been...a hint of possible dyslexia." Why, then, is the Bush camp so upset with the Sheehy story?

For the record, Gail Sheehy's "The Accidental Candidate" in the October issue of Vanity Fair is about a number of Bush topics, and dyslexia isn't even mentioned in the teaser: "George W. Bush's dream job has always been baseball commissioner. So why is he running for president? Try a father's heartbreak, a mother's revenge, and the blindly competitive streak that has surfaced whenever failure loomed: at school, in business, at home, or, now, in the biggest game of his life." Not even a subliminal hint of dyslexia in that description. It does, however, sound focused upon Bush's personal life, which is not so surprising. According to the Reuter's story: "Sheehy has previously written about the psyches of the candidate's father, Saddam Hussein, Jesse Jackson, Mikhair Gorbachev, Hillary Clinton, and Newt Gingrigh." But she's hardly pro-Gore, if her recent 1999 book, Hillary's Choice is any indication. When she traveled with the Bush campaign entourage by train after the GOP convention, she was seen neither as an enemy nor a stranger.

Back in June, flying on the campaign trail, Bush would tease "Gail" as she tried to get him to talk seriously about the environment, reading, and gay rights, and he would respond in "off the record" repartee: "Gail, did you go to the baseball game last night?" "No, Governor, I was traveling with you." When she asks if she could "lope along" with him on the running track back in Austin, he says, "Are you a loper? An 'interloper.' Too hot. It's 98 degrees down there."

In August during Bush's whistle-stop tour through the midwest, Sheehy and the other reporters were fed smoked-salmon and cavier by the Bush team, but she was more interested in interviewing Bush. In her story she writes that she wanted to "ask Governor Bush about his learning difficulties, his religious awakening, and his environment policies." Eventually, she was told by Karen Hughes that, "the governor will not be able to participate in your profile." Again, when the story was later published, Karen Hughes called Sheehey's treatment of Bush and dyslexia "fiction," and Bush spokesman Sullivan said it was not fact and she knew it, because they told her so prior to the profile's publication. Now, one wonders what Bush and his people are thinking as they continue to stonewall reporters. --Politex, 9/21/00


Sidebar: Mo Paul on His Dyslexia and G.W. Bush

My father is 71 and has had dyslexia all his life. He didn't make it past 3rd grade, and still can't read or write. He flubs words EXACTLY like G. W. Bush has all his life. I think I even inherited a touch of it myself. Nothing to be ashamed of, many great historical figures apparently had it. It can be embarrassing I'm sure, like stuttering. But its hard not to laugh when its coming from someone running for president. everyone has a little drawl or twang or speech peculiarity, but the problem with Bush is much deeper. its not so much that he's dumb, but that he doesn't have a clue. He needs a script to sound coherent. you can tell when things have been written for him, and when he wings it. What's really unsettling is the way he overpronounces words now, placing hyphens between syllables and slowing way down to avoid stumbling, like the way he pronounced 'mus-cu-lar scle-ro-sis' the other day. And after the last month, the press is simply waiting for flubs and bloopers and counting them all up for articles.

The way he repeatedly screwed up the word 'subliminal' was right off a Curly Howard routine. It's easy to laugh at the guy. I'm cynical, and I can see that that's not the real G.W.. we saw speaking at the convention. It's only now becoming clear that he's not qualified to converse with world leaders, he would be the laughing stock of the world, and could even seriously mess up important relations with other countries by a slip of the tongue, or an offensive remark, or slur. It's more scary than funny, and also a little sad. I'm not a fan of Al Gore, but is Bush all the Republicans could come up with as a leader for our country? "Here, take this moron, he's good enough for you."

But, as a cartoonist, I appreciate George W. for his comedy value. All cartoonists and writers of gags and articles owe him a huge debt of grasitude...gratisude.........thanks. --Mo Paul, 9/23/00

see further...mo paul Poppy and Junior Have Fun With Words.


Three: Bush Provides Dyslexic Denial of Dyslexia.

George W. Bush recently passed through ABC's Good Morning, America on the talk show trail and denied that he was dyslexic: "No, I'm not dyslexic. That's all I can tell you." In an Orange, California diner later in the day, he elaborated by alluding to Gail Sheehy, whose Vanity Fair profile includes a discussion of Bush and dyslexia: "The woman who knew that I had dyslexia--I never interviewed her." Reporter Frank Bruni writes, "He did not appear to be making what would have been an incredibly clever joke," implying that Bush's remark about dyslexia was, in itself, dyslexic. First, in that statement Bush is saying "I had dyslexia," implying that he did once, but no longer does. Secondly, he indicates that he wanted to sit Sheehy down and ask her some questions. It's doubtful that he meant to say either thing, but he did.

British gadfly reporter Christopher Hitchens, who has taught dyslexic students, simply calls Bush a dyslexic in a recent Nation story: "I kicked myself hard when I read the profile of Governor George W. Bush, by my friend and colleague Gail Sheehy....All those jokes and cartoons and websites about his gaffes, bungles and malapropisms? We've been unknowingly teasing the afflicted. The poor guy is obviously dyslexic, and dyslexic to the point of near-illiteracy. Numerous experts and friends of the dynasty give Sheehy their considered verdict to this effect. The symptoms and clues have been staring us in the face for some time....The rhetorical and linguistic train wrecks in the speeches of Reagan and Bush Senior were of a different quality, arising variously from hysterical lying, brutish ignorance, senile decay and cultural deprivation. But the problem was chiefly syntactical. The additional humiliations of Dubya derive from utter failures of word recognition. A man who has somehow got this far in politics and refers to "tacular" weapons is unclear ...on the concept....His brother Neil is an admitted dyslexic. His mother has long been a patron of various foundations and charities associated with dyslexia. How plain it all now seems."

What we find troubling about Bush's responses to the dyslexia question on both "Good Morning America" ("That's all I can tell you.") and the Brian Williams news show ("It comes from somebody who’s writing fiction.") is that he left his questioners and the TV viewers with the impression that he has no idea where this dyslexia question comes from. Apart from this being a family problem for at least two generations, it's no secret that the Bushes concentrate on charities dealing with an illness and a disabilitity, both experienced first-hand, cancer and dyslexia. The Barbara Bush Foundation has awarded a substantial grant to a Houston institute that helps to train teachers to teach dyslexics how to read. The Texas book festival fostered by George and Laura Bush each November is an outgrowth of their interest in dyslexia. Further, it's not surprising that both Poppy Bush and Junior married women who are known for their use of language, Barb for her sharp wit and a memoir actually written by her, and Laura for her profession as a librarian and her avid reading. (Poppy's children have gone on record as not being readers.) Yet, Bush would have us understand that in spite of his regular abuse of the English language in public, his behavior is par for the course. It is not.

It appears that Bush plans to deal with the dyslexia question by pretending it doesn't exist, and, at the moment, the media seems to be going along with him. Here's what he told Brian Williams: "People are not going to make their mind up on who ought to be the president of the United States on whether or not they mispronounce a word or two." Williams didn't pick Bush up on that statment, and Chris Matthews later told Williams that his interview was "hard-hitting," although we can't imagine why. Bush's obfuscation was echoed by columnist Mike Downey in the LAT a few days later: "What's important here is, a few malaprops do not a bad president make." We're more inclined, however, to agree with Hitchens' conclusion:

"The press and the Democrats should either stop citing and mocking the flubs or come right out and say what they mean. A danger of heartlessness, even of callousness, exists. Seeking to explain away his wastrel life and his obnoxious manner--nagging problems that persisted until his mid-40s--Bush invites us to believe that he mutated into finer personhood after having a personal encounter with God.... In a farcical recent moment, Bush contradicted his own mother, who claimed he'd always read his Bible as a youngster, by telling the Washington Post that he'd read no such thing. So--what if he had meant to say all along that he'd found a personal "dog"? The time to clear this up is now." --Politex, 9/25/00

Four: Politics Before People: Why Bush Stiffed Dyslexics.

When Bush Watch began in early '98, one of our stories had to do with George W. Bush's speech given to D.C.'s Alfalfa Club. He said if he were to be made president he would have a 119 emergency telephone number for dyslexics. That statement struck us as cruel at the time, particularly since we knew he had a dyslexic brother. We considered the possibility that, as family insider to the disability, he was being flippant to mask the pain. It's said that doctors make jokes about death for the same reason. Then came his statement that all Jews are going to hell, which we found insensitive to his family's history of being called anti-Semitic because of his grandfather's business connection to the Nazi Party and his father's political connection to Nazi sympathizers on his presidential campaign team. (See "Can a Jew Go to Heaven") Then came his insensitive statement about Karla Faye's imagined pleading for her life prior to her Texas execution. Then came his insensitive response to the question about his own possible dyslexia.

As noted in our recent story about Bush's treatment of a victim of a hate crime murder, it appears that he puts politics before people, and he's done it again with the dyslexia question, according to Houston Chronicle reporter, R.G. Ratcliffe, who happens to be dyslexic. (HC, 9/14/00) Ratcliffe found that Bush's reaction to the "Good Morning, America" question ("No I'm not dyslexic. That's all that I can tell you.") "focused on protecting his image from any hint of imperfection [and] promoted the stereotype that there is something wrong with being dyslexic." In fact, Ratcliffe continues, "the more honest answer for Bush and his spokes-people would be that he does not know whether he is dyslexic. At an earlier time in the campaign, I asked Hughes about this subject. Her answer at that time was the governor has never been tested for dyslexia and has no reason to believe he is." The fact is, of course, that Bush has every reason to believe that he's dyslexic, based on family history as well as public behavior, as Ratcliffe goes on to point out.

Why, then, does Bush continue to deny it? As Ratcliffe puts it, "Is George W. Bush somehow diminished as a potential president if he is dyslexic?...I'm sure it is partly because Bush and his campaign are trying to overcome questions about whether he is intelligent enough to be president. But they could have put some of those questions away early by admitting that he might be dyslexic and that his goofs occur because of that. But Bush and his aides react as if being called a dyslexic is the same thing as being called stupid. That is the stereotype that Bush has promoted." Bush, then, is perfectly willing to promote the age-old myth that dyslexics are just stupid, when studies have demonstrated that it's quite possible to be intelligent and dyslexic at the same time. This fact is nothing new, but, because of people like George W. Bush, the old myths hold sway over the minds of many. At present, the most important place the fight for facts about dyslexia is taking place is in education, a field that Bush brags is his number one priority. Yet, he is doing education a disservice by reinforcing stereotypes. In short, he is putting politics before people.

If Bush wanted to prove his willingness to raise the level of education in our country, he should prove it by starting with himself. One would hope that, as Al Gore has previously challenged him in another context, he will "put up or shut up." That is, it's clear that Bush is saying he is not dyslexic because he's never been tested, weasel words in case he changes his mind at a later date. One would think he would want to know as soon as possible so that, if he is dyslexic, he could be given the help of professionals to deal with his disability rather than denying it, be it reading, writing, speaking, or all three. Presidential candidates are expected to provide such information to the voters. Why is Bush sandbagging? And if he is not dyslexic, he then could look elsewhere for an explanation of his obvious communication problem. This is hampering his leadership because many voters are laughing at him rather than listening to what he is saying. --Politex, 9/26/00


Five: Bush "Belittles" Dyslexics on Larry King Show

Once again, George W. Bush equated having dyslexia with being belittled and lacking in intelligence, doing the millions of dyslexics in the United States a great disservice and contributing to the unthinking prejudice against dyslexics in our educational system. Bush appears to be mired in the kind of misinformed group-think that led him to think he was being funny in a speech two years ago in Washington, D.C., when he told the assemby at an annual Alfalfa Club dinner that if he were elected president he would make sure that dyslexics would have an emergency 119 number. Last night on the Larry King show, the host asked Bush to comment on "the dyslexia thing." Alluding to Gail Sheehy's Vanity Fair profile in which she discussed Bush in relation to dyslexia, the Texas governor called it "silly" and "made up." King didn't ask Bush to explain what he meant by that, and the Republican candidate for president went on to imply that in bringing up Bush's possible dyslexia, Sheehy was just being the typical Washington, D.C reporter: "I remember what they did to Ronald Reagan. They belittled him and they said, oh, he can't possibly be smart enough to be president of the United States. He is simply an actor. The man turned out to be a great president." King never asked Bush to explain his stereotype of the Washington reporter in relation to Sheehy's treatment of Bush's possible dyslexia, nor to explain why Bush selected another example of political reporting that led him to equate a lack of intelligence with dyslexia.. At any rate, not only did Bush pass up another opportunity to set the record straight concerning his own serious problems with language, but he continued to set back the fight to make the nature of dyslexia understood by our citizens. Once again, George W. Bush has chosen politics over people. Here is the relevant excerpt from the Larry King Show. --Politex, 9/27/00

KING: The dyslexia thing, did that bother you?
G. BUSH: Oh, that was just fiction.
KING: But did it bother you? Because, first of all, millions of Americans have it.
G. BUSH: Of course they are. My little brother, Neil, is dyslexic.
KING: Successful people have it.
G. BUSH: Very much so. Winston Churchill, one of my...
KING: So how did you react when a thing like that made...
G. BUSH: I just smiled. I just thought it was silly, you know. We've got a writer who just made something up. And, you know, I'm -- even if I were, I would be a good president. But I'm not.
KING: Hey, there could be good dyslexic president.
G. BUSH: But you know something, I mean, -- listen, I remember what they did to Ronald Reagan. They belittled him and they said, oh, he can't possibly be smart enough to be president of the United States. He is simply an actor. The man turned out to be a great president. And, you know, I think it is partly because those of us who don't spend our adult life in Washington, D.C. are seen to be -- somehow be deficient. But the great news is, most people don't spend their adult lives in Washington, D.C. The voters who make the determination in the elections are really looking for somebody who has got good judgment, common sense, and can relate to them. And that is why governors have tended to be president of the United States: President Clinton, President Carter, President Reagan, and President Bush, I hope.
KING: We'll be back with our remaining moments with Bushes. It won't be their last visit.


Dyslexia Diognosticians Comment on Bush's Language

Bush's inability to distinguish between the word "tears," meaning to rip, and "tears," meaning crying, while a student at Andover, suggests, "he really didn't understand the language. Bush is probably dyslexic, although he has probably never been diagnosed." --Sue Horn, former president of the Maryland branch of the International Dyslexia Accociation, who has been diognosing dyslexics for 25 years. (Vanity Fair, October, 2000)

"The errors you've heard Governor Bush make are consistent with dyslexia." --Nancy LaFevers, Houston Dyslexia Diognostician. (Vanity Fair, October, 2000)

"Based on his speech and behavior, his hyperactivity and impulsivity, you can say there is a possibility of some sort of disorder. If he were in a New York City school, they would pick up on this and say, 'Let's check out this person.'" Dr. Irwin Rosenthal, who sits on the board of the New York Association for the Learning Disabled. (Daily News, 9/12/00)

Note: Dr. Rosenthal appears to be considering the belief in a 30% crossover between dyslexia and attention-deficit disorder. As far as school testing, Gail Sheehy notes in her Vanity Fair profile that younger brother Neil, like George, was tutored by his mother for language deficiencies. "Neil was later diagnosed as dyslexic, but it is unlikely that lower schools would have identified the problem in either boy in the 50's or 60's. Even today it is often missed, and learning difficulties are attribute to laziness or poor teaching. Although Barbara Bush has previously told the nation, "Please don't treat [dyslexia] as a secret. Treat it with help," her son George is unwilling to take a test to determine if he is dyxlexic. At present, the Bush team says Bush is not dyslexic and notes that he has never been tested, implying that without taking the test, he could not be dyslexic. --Politex

"I don't think you can diagnose anyone with dyslexia just from the way they talk." --Dr. Larry Silver, president of the Learning Disabilities Association (Daily News, 9/12/00)

Note: Here, Dr. Silver agrees that an actual professional diagnosis demands a test. --Politex

Bush "definitely has problems with word retrieval. He's dipping into the right word pool in his brain but pulling out the wrong word. We all do that to some extent, but we catch ourselves doing it. He doesn't seem to correct himself. That's kind of curious." --Linda Bejorian, speech pathologist, New York's Speech Matters, suggesting that, in the words of the reporter, "Bush sometimes sounds like a stroke victim." (Daily News, 9/12/00)

Dear Editors of The New Republic, If Franklin Foer's hatchet job (NR, 10/9/00) of Gail Sheehy's profile of George W. Bush in the October issue of Vanity Fair is any indication of the quality of your magizine's analyses, you've suffered a severe lapse of journalistic integrity and scholarship since I regularly subscribed as a graduate student some years ago. In "Analyze This," Foer chooses to focus on those parts of the profile dealing with relationships between Bush and dyslexia, parts in which Sheehy never "suggests," as Foer writes, that Bush has dyslexia, knowing full well that such a conclusion demands cooperative testing, which Bush is unwilling to undergo. Taking a "kill the messenger" approach to the question of Bush and dyslexia, Foer spends approximately 100 words of his 1600 word essay distorting the material in Sheehey's profile and 1400 words attacking Sheehy's past journalistic activities, which are far less relevant to the reader than a lucid analysis of Sheehy's profile would be. Here's the totality of what Fore writes about Sheehy's treatment of Bush and dyslexia:

"There were many reasons to pay the story no mind. For starters, there was the flimsy supporting evidence: a quote from the former head of the Maryland branch of the International Dyslexia Association (who made no claims to have met Bush); Bush's idealization of Winston Churchill, who was likely dyslexic; and the author's observation that "dyslexics are sometimes the loudmouths in school. At Andover, Bush was nicknamed `the Lip.'" But there was an even better reason to ignore the story--the author herself, Vanity Fair correspondent Gail Sheehy, a journalist with a world-class reputation for getting it wrong."

If Foer finds so many reasons for discrediting Sheehy, why does he only discuss two, the "flimsy evidence" presented in the above paragraph and approximately 1400 words dealing with Sheehy's journalistic career prior to writing the Bush profile? Further, even Fore's treatment of three pieces of "evidence" amongh the many that Sheehy provides is truly "flimsy." First, he doesn't mention that Sheehy cites interviews with three dyslexia experts in her story, not one. The one he referred to in the above paragraph has been evaluating dyslexic clients for 25 years. One of the two others was unable to comment, since she is the director of a dyslexia foundation funded by Barbara Bush, George's mother. The director referred Sheehy to the third expert, who said, "Bush is probably dyslexic, although he has probably never been diagnosed." Such comments, based on the public record, hardly need a face-to-face meeting with Bush.

Secondly, while Sheehy makes reference to four other well-known people with dyslexia, not just Churchill, he is of particular interest bcause some of his experiences were similar to Bush's. Further, Sheehy discusses Bush and Chirchill in the context of her interview with the author of a book on gifted people who have had dyslexia. Finally, while Foer is correct in writing that Sheehy mentions dyslexics sometimes being loudmouths in school, he fails to point out the Sheehy discusses other markers of dyslexia, such as dyslexia running in families, males being more dyslexic than females, rigidity, short attention span, and compensatory gifts such as interpersonal fearlessness and visual acuity.

Further, Foer ignores entire areas of Sheehy's treatment of Bush and dyslexia, such as how his friends and business acquaintances have helped him with his language problems over the years, Bush's various ways of coping with those language problems throughout his education and on the campaign trail, and how a Bush presidency would be shaped to accomodate his linguistic weaknesses. At any rate, one can only assume that Homer nodded with respect to allowing such a weak analysis to be published in your magazine. As for Mr. Fore, it appears that either he really has it in for Ms. Sheehy for past transgressions that are irrelevant to the subject of Bush and dyslexia, or he is an informal part of the Bush team that appears to be stonewalling the subject by attenpting to defame the messenger.

--Jerry Politex, editor, Bush Watch (www.bushwatch.com), 10/2/00


SHEEHY DESCRIBES BUSH MACHINATIONS

In an MSNBC story, Gail Sheehy, who wrote about George W. Bush and dyslexia for Vanity Fair, describes how the Bush team went about discrediting her story as well as her career, and makes a suggestion about how this kind of political destruction should be treated in the future. "In the three months of research for a Vanity Fair profile of Texas Gov. George W. Bush, I used my usual method of saturation reporting — 85 interviews with 70 of Bush’s friends, classmates, business associates, and top campaign aides. It was his chronic scrambling of spoken thoughts that continued to puzzle me. How could a man educated at some of America’s finest educational institutions — Andover, Yale, and Harvard — make so many mistakes? The press had assumed he was intellectually limited. But chatting with him on the campaign trail, I found him to be very bright, quick-witted, and possessed of a good memory, although often carelessly uninformed on issues outside of Texas.

"Several speech experts in his home state, familiar with the Bush family history told me on the record that the mistakes Governor Bush makes are consistent with someone with dyslexia. (His brother Neil is a diagnosed dyslexic.) When I raised the question with his campaign chairman, Don Evans, Evans became flustered and said, “What do you mean? Ask him — I don’t know; I wasn’t there in the 3rd grade. I know he was in school patrol, he must have been a good student. I don’t know — ask him. ” The next day, campaign spokeswoman Karen Hughes informed me curtly, “The governor will not be able to participate in your profile.”

"Before the story closed, I called Evans to check facts and told him of further evidence that dyslexic traits run in families and might possibly account for Bush’s malapropisms as well as his extraordinary “people skills.” He agreed with me that only the governor could properly respond and promised the campaign staff would get back to me. They never did....For "troublesome" journalists [politicians] have devised a newer technique: They will not address repeated requests to check facts that can only be verified by the candidate. The object is to trap the journalist and discredit the whole piece if there is anything in it the campaign doesn't like....

"After publication, the Bush camp falsely claimed that I had been told the governor was not dyslexic. They also charged that I had confused George W. with his brother Neil when I reported that, as late as 8th grade, George was kept inside on Saturday mornings so his mother could drill him with flash cards. My source, Doug Hannah, was George’s contemporary, not Neil’s. In any case, I did not say George Bush is dyslexic. I simply raised the question...

"Experts estimate that somewhere between 15 percent and 20 percent of the population is dyslexic. But Bush and his aides have reacted as if being dyslexic is the same thing as being stupid. The candidate missed an opportunity to dispel that cruel stereotype. He could have empowered millions of children for whom he genuinely seems to feel compassion — those with learning disabilities who would benefit from his reading initiative. These are children who often think their learning difficulties are their fault. Maybe George Bush once thought so, too....

"In my case, his campaign launched a broadside attack — not against any of the facts in my story, but against me personally: “She has a history of making dramatic, wild accusations about well-known public figures,” Karen Hughes told the Odessa American..... The easiest way for a candidate’s spin doctors to deflect attention from unassailable facts and thought-provoking revelations produced by a well-researched profile is to attack the writer’s credibility, rather than address the issues. They use the same weapons they have perfected in maligning their opponents, doing quick and dirty “opposition research” and then planting toxic personal tidbits with comrades-in-arms who are once removed from the campaign....On Sept. 26, I learned that Franklin Foer was writing a piece for The New Republic assessing my entire writing career (35 years) and the controversies aroused by my work (thousands of articles and 13 books).... It would seem particularly reckless of The New Republic to rush to publish a slapdash personal attack, having twice been exposed as printing complete fabrications by reporters Stephen Glass and Ruth Shalit. Foer should be expected to research fully a public record of the controversies he mentioned. His article contains no fewer than 13 false statements.

"I don’t expect anyone to feel sorry for me; that is not the point. The point of this cautionary tale is that we all-public figures and journalists alike-need some sort of nonlegal peer review mechanism to which we can appeal when we believe we have been maliciously maligned. If clarity were brought to such personal/political confrontations, the cloud cast over reputations might be dispelled — or justified. And the community of journalists would come to recognize, and consequently ostracize, the true enemies within." --Gail Sheehy, 10/5/00, MSNBC.


DO WE REALLY WANT A PART-TIME PRESIDENT?

How Bush's Language Problems and Short Attention Span Would Affect Us

A reporter recently used Texas public information laws to obtain 900 pages of George W. Bush's governor's schedules and correspondence and discovered "a governor who works short hours and spends little time studying specific issues or working on executive matters. The schedules show that Mr. Bush typically had his first office meeting about 9 a.m., took two hours of "private time" at lunch for a run, and then wrapped up his last meeting by about 5 p.m. A large portion of the officially scheduled meetings were "photo opportunities," interviews with reporters, or meetings with school groups or other ceremonial occasions. Relatively little of the day was devoted to hard-core examination of the issues." NYT reporter Nicholas D. Kristof goes on to note that the schedules were taken from one of Bush's busiest periods as governor, 1997, a year in which the Texas Legislature met.

Since Bush has often told the nation to look at his Texas record to determine what kind of president he would be, one wonders how he would function under the extreme pressures and very long days common to the presidency. Bush is unwilling to put a label on his language and attention problems, which appear to be the reason for his short days in the governor's office. However, his friends and business acquaintances have commented on these problems.

Doug Hannah, a friend since childhood, has found that the attention problem runs in the family: "They have an attention span of about an hour." When he and George were boys, he remembers, "Mr. Bush would pick us up to take us to the movies and leave after an hour and 20 minutes.... At ball games George would sometimes want to leave in the fifth inning." "Even today," writes Gail Sheehy in the October Vanity Fair, "nothing engages Bush's attention for more than an hour, an hour max—more like 10 or 15 minutes. His workday as governor of Texas is "two hard half-days," as his chief of staff, Clay Johnson, describes it. He puts in the hours from 8 to 11:30 A.M., breaking it up with a series of 15-minute meetings, sometimes 10-minute meetings, but rarely is there a 30-minute meeting, says Johnson. At 11:30 he's "outtahere." He tries everything possible to have at least two hours of what he calls private time in the middle of the day to go over to the University of Texas track or run a hard three to five miles on a concrete path at a pace of 7.5 minutes a mile, then relax and return to the office at 1:30, where he'll play some video golf or computer solitaire until about three, and then it's back to the second "hard half-day" until 5:30."

It's not just that Bush begins to lose focus earlier than most administrators in high pressure jobs, but his language breaks down and he sometimes becomes incomprehensible. When reporters began writing about his language difficulties after the New Hampshire primaries, excuses were made by both Bush spinners and sympathetic reporters that he only made his language gaffes late in the day. Then it was late in the day and early in the morning. After that it was late in the day, early in the morning, and when under pressure. Then Bush began to schmooze with reporters on his plane and we were given stories that he didn't sleep well on the road and missed the comfort of his Austin bed. All of these explanations are true, but they don't really get to the heart of the matter. Bush appears to be incapable of working long, hard, pressure-filled days, the kind of days common to the presidency, without suffering a loss of attention and an inability to clearly communicate. Can we afford a president who works a six hour day and devotes little of those hours to "studying specific issues or working on executive matters"? Bush may want to do more, but his language and attention problems appear to prevent him from doing more. --Politex, 10/17/00

"George W. doesn't seem to be getting his usual ample hours of sleep. Though not doing much of substance, he has to be awake much longer than he is used to, and his few unscripted remarks have been often testy." --Chicago Sun Times, 2/6/01.

"As the presidential campaign began early in 1999, Bush opted to stay home in Texas until later in the year. As a candidate, much was written about his fondness for days off, light schedules and a traveling pillow. So what's Bush doing as president? "I'll answer some questions and I'm gonna head home and take a nap." That's what Bush said Sunday before addressing a retreat for Democratic House members in western Pennsylvania. The remark confirmed a common stereotype about Bush, particularly in comparison to his peripatetic predecessor. Compared to the omnipresent Clinton, Bush prefers the serenity within the White House walls. Since his inauguration, he has had five events fully open to the press. Clinton often held three or four in a week. Bush's staff has demurred on the question of a news conference. Where Clinton was effusive, Bush is contained. A weary Clinton spent six hours shaking hands with hordes of visitors, some uninvited, at a White House open house after his inauguration. Bush appeared only briefly at his open house with a carefully selected group of visitors. --WP, 2/9/01


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