"When an English speaker doesn’t understand a word of what someone
says, he or she states that it’s ‘Greek to me’. When a Hebrew speaker
encounters this difficulty, it ’sounds like Chinese’. I’ve been told
the Korean equivalent is ’sounds like Hebrew.'” -- Yuval Pinter quoted by Mark Liberman
What metaphors are used in other languages? Liberman constructed this helpful graphic relying on information from a Wikipedia article on the subject.
Radley Balko wrote a disturbing piece for Reason, raising the possibility that hundreds of parents have been wrongly accused of abusing and even murdering their children by violent shaking. I'm not even remotely qualified to evaluate the medical evidence, but Shaken Baby Syndrome is one of those charges that I've had an itchy feeling about.
I would certainly not defend or minimize child abuse, but I know that social services and prosecutors have occasionally gone on witch hunts at the expense of parents and childcare workers. Perhaps it was the sudden prominence of shaken baby charges that raised my suspicions. Any time a newly identified syndrome becomes an epidemic, I worry about whether we're looking at bogyman fantasies or reality.
Who knows what's true and what isn't, but the quotes from former Bush speechwriter Matt Latimer's new book are interesting. Latimer writes:
"After one of Obama's blistering speeches against the
administration, the president had a very human reaction: He was ticked
off"... "He came in one day to rehearse a speech, fuming. 'This is a
dangerous world,' he said for no apparent reason, 'and this cat isn't
remotely qualified to handle it. This guy has no clue, I promise you.'"
Latimer said that Bush expected Hillary Clinton to win the Democratic nomination. He quotes Bush: "'Wait till her [Hillary's] fat keister is sitting at this desk,' (except he didn't say 'keister')."
Bush on Palin:
"'I’m trying to remember if I’ve met her
before. I’m sure I must have.' His eyes twinkled. Then he asked: 'What
is she, the governor of Guam?'" According to Latimer, Bush also said wait "until the bloom is off the rose... "This woman is being put into a position she is not even remotely
prepared for. She hasn't spent one day on the national level. Neither
has her family. Let's wait and see how she looks five days out."
Bush on Carter:
"If I'm ever eighty-two years old and acting like that have someone put me away."
Gillespie wanted to insert a few lines condemning gay marriage into a Bush commencement address at Furman University. Bush called the speech "too condemnatory" and said: "I'm not going to tell
some gay kid in the audience that he can't get married."
Actually, none of this is scandalous or even very surprising. Bush's comments seem like candid reactions that weren't particularly harsh or unusual for words that weren't intended for public consumption.
Regarding Bush's assessments of the candidates, I would respond that very few, if any new presidents, are prepared for the office. Candidates like Obama and Palin are particularly unprepared if you consider political experience the most important measure of preparedness. Being a U.S. senator or a governor for two years isn't much and small town mayor and state senator are small potatoes. Likewise, running a small fishing business or being a community organizer doesn't especially prepare one for the presidency, except insofar as all life experience is a sort of preparation for one's own future. That doesn't mean that relatively inexperienced presidents will fare worse than politically experienced presidents, or that someone who is more experienced will do better. Bush knew more about what to expect because of his father's presidency, but such preparation doesn't guarantee a good performance.
As for Bush's comment on HRC, I think Hillary had a better idea than any of the other candidates about what it would be like to sit "her fat keister" at that desk. She probably knew even better than W. going in because of her close involvement in her husband's administration. She also took a great deal of personal heat throughout her husband's years in the White House--something W. didn't experience until he was president. Again, that doesn't mean she would have been a good president, but she is smart, tough as nails and knew as much as anyone could know about what to expect once her keister was in that chair.