George W. Bush's unplugged performance with Tim Russert on Sunday offered hope for even the dumbest of men: You too can become president of the United States.
Yet Bush's apparent inanity conceals his immense talent as a political speaker. If one applies the principles of duckspeak to Bush's performance, he is a doubleplusgood doublethinker. Duckspeak, of course, is the language celebrated in George Orwell's "1984." Characterized by mindless invocation and the repetition of slogans, it was the highest form of speech in Orwell's nightmare demolition of the English language, Newspeak. Orwell wrote:
"Newspeak vocabulary was tiny, and new ways of reducing it were constantly being devised. Newspeak, indeed, differed from most all other languages in that its vocabulary grew smaller instead of larger every year. Each reduction was a gain, since the smaller the area of choice, the smaller the temptation to take thought. Ultimately it was hoped to make articulate speech issue from the larynx without involving the higher brain centres at all. This aim was frankly admitted in the Newspeak word duckspeak, meaning 'to quack like a duck'."
Loud honking sounds emanated from Bush as soon as the interview started and were most clearly heard after Russert pointed out the numerous times that Cheney, Powell, Rumsfeld and the president himself said there was "no doubt" that Saddam had WMD. "I don't want to get into word contests," Bush told Russert. Translated from the duckspeak: Words mean nothing.
As a public service, we take the time here to translate the most relevant portions of the president's statements to Russert into duckspeak. Where quacks are noted in the translated text (as in "quack quack quack"), they signify portions of the president's sentences that are mostly or entirely meaningless -- connectors, pronouns and verbs that offer the vague appearance of logic behind Bush's catchphrases and patriotic pap, the "mass of lies, evasion, folly" that Orwell elsewhere described as a "soft snow" covering up the facts. The catchphrases, representing the more cognitively developed portion of Bush's remarks, have been left intact.
Tim Russert: On Friday, you announced a committee, commission, to look into intelligence failures regarding the Iraq War and our entire intelligence community. You have been reluctant to do that for some time. Why?
President Bush: Quack quack quack winning the war against the terrorists. Quack quack war against terrorists quack war quack hide in caves quack quack quack shadowy networks quack rogue nations. Quack good intelligence system. We need really good intelligence quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack fighting this war on terror.
[Russert, noting that the Iraq intelligence commission will not report until March 2005] Shouldn't the American people have the benefit of the commission before the election?
Quack gave it time quack didn't want it to be hurried quack strategic look quack big picture quack war on terror quack dangerous world quack dangerous world quack war president quack war on my mind quack I see dangers.
The night you took the country to war, March 17th, you said this: "Intelligence gathered by this and other governments leaves no doubt that the Iraq regime continues to possess and conceal some of the most lethal weapons ever devised ... How do you respond to critics who say that you brought the nation to war under false pretenses?
Quack weapons quack war against terror quack we were attacked quack every threat quack every threat quack every potential harm to America quack war on terror quack weapons quack suicide bombers quack funding terrorist groups quack dangerous man quack stockpiles of weapons quack capacity to produce weapons quack weapons quack capacity to make weapons quack Saddam Hussein quack dangerous with weapons quack Saddam Hussein quack dangerous with the ability to make weapons quack dangerous man quack dangerous quack a madman quack imminent quack imminent quack new kind of war quack no doubt in my mind quack Saddam Hussein quack danger to America.
In what way?
Quack have a weapon, make a weapon quack he had weapons quack he had weapons quack make a weapon quack weapon quack shadowy terrorist network quack Oval Office quack terrorists with airplanes quack harm America quack worst nightmare scenario quack terrorist networks quack deadly weapons quack strike us quack president of the United States' most solemn responsibility quack country secure quack Saddam Hussein quack Saddam Hussein quack madman.
Now looking back, in your mind, is it worth the loss of 530 American lives and 3,000 injuries and woundings simply to remove Saddam Hussein, even though there were no weapons of mass destruction?
Quack life is precious quack sacrifice for this country quack our praise quack.
Let me finish quack explain quack parents of those who lost their lives quack Saddam Hussein quack dangerous quack a madman quack a dangerous man quack make weapons quack soldiers who have fallen quack war against these terrorists quack great harm to America quack these young ones quack sacrifice quack free Iraq quack change the world quack historic times quack free Iraq quack children in our own country quack safer world quack hatred and violence quack enemy quack recruit its killers quack America quack responsibility quack responsibility quack responsibility quack responsibility quack freedom quack barbaric people quack Saddam Hussein quack mass graves quack responsibility.