It is easy to figure why President George W. Bush can be so gracious about being the brunt of jokes for his syntax-challenged speech. Or as he quipped to the Radio and Television Correspondents Association dinner last week, "Now, ladies and gentlemen, you have to admit, in my sentences I go where no man has gone before."
Bush understands that when you're a Republican politician, you get typecast into one of two molds: stupid or evil. Dan Quayle or Richard Nixon. That's it.
At the California Democratic convention last weekend, Mayor Willie Brown joined the Bush-belittling club when he quipped that the country "elected the symbol of ebonics to the presidency of the nation." And: "It raises serious questions about whether he's really white."
It didn't seem to occur to Brown that, having dubbed himself "Da Mayor," his ebonics line made for a classic case of the pot calling the kettle black.
And let us take a moment of silence to consider what choice names Brown would have hurled at Bush if Bush had made a similar tasteless ethnic dig.
I can't go a whole week without hearing cackling about what a lame-brain Bush is. Yes, he's so stupid, he got elected president. Or for those who don't believe he was elected: He's so stupid, he won in the courts and the Electoral College. That's because, they say, he picks good advisers who keep him from looking stupid.
He's so stupid, he's their president.
It's true. Bush has said some real whoppers. "Is our children learning?" is probably his most famous gaffe. For good reason. It's hard to appear as if you care about education if you can't manage simple subject-verb agreement.
(At least it beats, "It all depends on what the meaning of 'is' is.")
Bush bashers don't think of how they'd come across if their every word were plastered on the front page. Witness talk-radio callers who barely can spit out a clean sentence as they bash Bush's speaking style.
After examining his academic history, Vanity Fair writer Gail Sheehy came to the conclusion that Bush suffers from dyslexia. While Bush and his team deny it, Sheehy laid out a persuasive case. If the president isn't officially dyslexic, his brain does seem to be wired in a way that he often says things he doesn't mean. (When he said, "the federal government ought to have maximum flexibility," he meant states ought to have flexibility with federal funds.)
But if Bushisms are not the result of speaking fatigue, and Sheehy's right, then the Special City has developed a new pastime based on ridiculing a man for a congenital problem. How special. How tolerant.
Ah, but it's so transparent. These Democrats bash Bush's brains because they have this deep-seated need to ridicule people who think differently from the way they do. They're like junior high school students eyeing a classmate wearing the wrong clothes.
Besides, what's the point of being a Democrat if you can't feel superior? Being a Dem is supposed to prove you are intellectual and caring. Ergo ipso facto, people with different viewpoints must be unintellectual and brutal.
The big joke is that this posture puts Dems in the awkward position of feeling superior because they got beat by a dumb guy.
As Forrest Gump's mama told him, stupid is as stupid does.