Friday, September 21, 2007

This just in: Bush vows to keep US troops in Iraq until Nelson Mandela is really dead

Just in case you were wondering:
Nelson Mandela is still very much alive despite an embarrassing gaffe by U.S. President George W. Bush, who alluded to the former South African leader's death in an attempt to explain sectarian violence in Iraq.[…]

Jailed for 27 years for fighting white minority rule, Mandela became South Africa's first black president in 1994. He won a Nobel Peace Prize for preaching racial harmony and guiding the nation peacefully into the post-apartheid era.

References to his death -- Mandela is now 89 and increasingly frail -- are seen as insensitive in South Africa.

For those who missed it:

If it makes South Africans feel any better--and at this point it might, or it might not--most Americans are pretty mortified by the whole thing, too.

All we can tell you is, when Bush starts making that chopping motion with his hand, it's the universal sign that he's not speaking for a single American citizen.


Rico Bach said...

How embarrassing for you. The President's quote was a compliment to Mandela. A leader during tyranny who comes out the other side to lead his nation out of darkness. A moral man. None exist in Iraq. Saddam had them killed. That's Bush's point. He did not say Mandela has passed. It's respectful to wish there was a Mandela in Iraq. Should we just not bring his name up until the 89 year old passes away? The original question that the President was referring to was someone asking: "Where is this region's (middle east) Mandela?" Is that person to be derided as someone who mistakenly thought that a frail 89 year-old Mandela was making the rounds, dodging jihadists in Iraq? I really can't believe that someone would have misunderstood the President's evoking of Mandela's name in his statement. I can believe this though:

As one of the legions of faceless, nameless, wise-ass, know-it-all bloggers to get yet another shot in at George Bush... you should be embarrassed. You should be embarrassed that you're among a generation of kids who are getting their "news" snippets from YouTube, the daily show, and fellow bloggers.

Nothstine said...

Hi Rico--

Oh no, I agree--I think it was obvious that Bush was, as you note, trying to say that any Mandela-style leaders that might have been in Iraq were probably purged years ago under Saddam's rule (or later, if they survived that long).

The problem--and my point--was that he didn't say that. He said "Mandela is dead." And if he understood that he dreadfully mangled his point, there was no indication of it at the time. It's not that Bush actually thought Mandela was dead (although until he was briefed before the press conference he might have, for all I know), it's that the complexities of figurative speech (like the synechdoche of "Mandela" for "leaders like Mandela") don't come easily to the president.

Although he'd call it "not doing nuance," he'd probably agree with me.

Of course, what you don't mention is that I'm not the only one who found Bush's gaffe, and the cluelessness that it exemplified, to be offensive. So, in this case, does South Africa.

True, in the grand scheme of things that diplomatic embarrassment isn't as big a deal as, say, Bush's trampling of the Constitution, but I don't feel like writing about that every day.

One last point: I might indeed be a wise-ass and a know-it all--opinions vary--but on p3 I'm neither faceless nor nameless. I know you didn't mean me specifically in that remark, just bloggers that strike you the way I did. But, like the president, you didn't say that.

On the other hand, you did sign your name, rather than replying anonymously, and I appreciate that. Thanks.