Tuesday, January 15, 2008

President Chuckles

So I'm researching the efforts being made to improve Mandarin education in America, and one that comes up is the National Security Languages Initiative, a big collaborative government project to pump $114 million dollars into teaching Americans the languages critical to the 21st century.

Below are Pres Bush's opening remarks in his speech introducing the initiative at the State Department. What a fascinating guy. Thing is, he actually seems pretty funny.

"Madam Secretary, thanks for having me. I'm here to let the good folks know here how strongly I support the national security language initiative. I've had a little problem with the language in the past, so -- (laughter.) If you've got room in the initiative for me, let me know. (Laughter.) Condi said, come on by, we've got a bunch of university presidents here. And I said, great, just so long as we don't have to compare transcripts. (Laughter.) She's the Ph.D., I'm the President. (Laughter and applause.)

She's a heck of a Secretary of State, though. And Don Rumsfeld is a heck of a Secretary of the Defense, and I want to thank you both for joining together on this initiative. It's interesting, isn't it, that the State Department and the Defense Department are sponsoring a language initiative. It says something about the world we live in. I felt certain that the Secretary of Education would be here. After all, we're talking about education. And I want to thank you for being here, Margaret. But I also find it's interesting you're sitting next to John Negroponte, who is the Director of National Intelligence."

I find it interesting too, George. It does say something about the world we live in.

But for all the jokes, the shout out to Rumsfeld is a telling overture to the rest of his speech... the same tired, revolting lines about "they want to hurt us" and "we gotta fight 'em over there."

In the end, this has very little to do with my article. But it's still interesting, as is the fact that I was able to access the State Department's website without an anonymizer.

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