The Rittenhouse Review

A Philadelphia Journal of Politics, Finance, Ethics, and Culture

Monday, December 06, 2004  

Sometimes They’re Almost Too Hard to Believe

In the latest installments of “Bushisms,” a regular feature at Slate assembled by Jacob Weisberg, we read this precious quote from President Creamed Chipped Beef, spoken on November 30 in Ottawa, Canada: “I believe that, as quickly as possible, young cows ought to be allowed go across our border.”

Sometimes I read Weisberg’s Bushisms and I think, “No, he couldn’t have said that.” Or, “No, this must be taken out of context.” And yet every time I dig further, I find Weisberg has neither falsified nor unreasonably decontextualized the president’s utterances.

In this particular case, for confirmation we can turn to no more authoritative a source at the White House itself, which on November 30 published prepared statements from Prime Minister Paul Martin and President Bush, along with the ensuing question-and-answer session, in “President and Prime Minister Martin Discuss Common Goals.” The Bushism is there for all the world to see.

As for context, well, it gets no better. Here’s the full paragraph in which the quote appeared:

I fully understand the cattle business; I understand the pressures placed upon Canadian ranchers. I believe that, as quickly as possible, young cows ought to be allowed go across our border. I understand the integrated nature of the cattle business and I hope we can get this issue solved as quickly as possible.

Whether these “young cows” -- and if the president fully understood the cattle business he would have referred to them as “calves” -- will arrive here as “guest workers,” as hinted in the administration’s impending immigration havoc reform proposals was not immediately clear. Then again, when the president speaks, what is?


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