Does Bush have ‘presenile dementia’?

July 2, 2007 | By | 41 Replies More

Long before political Bush-bashing became popular, or even widely accepted, critics still jabbed him repeatedly for his speech. Books of “Bushisms”, videos of Bush’s misspeakings spliced together, and comedic reproductions of the man’s halting, confused language have always dominated the pop culture reception of the President.

I use the word President specifically because Bush didn’t always speak this way. As Governor, he had at least a modicum of eloquence, and certainly much more speech-giving poise. How could a skilled and well-prepared speaker become the awkward cannon-fodder mess of a President we have today?

Back in 2004, James Fallows, a former speechwriter for Jimmy Carter, weighed in on the Kerry/Bush debates. Fallows ended up ruminating, however, on the great disparity between Bush’s past speaking ability as Governor, and his blundering debating skills of the present. The initial, layperson’s diagnosis held that perhaps Bush had developed some kind of dyslexia.

But dyslexia doesn’t just pop up, out of nowhere, to plague a middle-aged man. Upon viewing the in-depth comparison of young Bush’s and old Bush’s speaking skills, some physicians saw the clear signs of presenile dementia. The connection broke when one such physician sent a letter to The Atlantic, saying:

“Bush’s problems have been developing slowly, and that just a decade ago he was an articulate debater, ‘artful indeed in steering questions and challenges to his desired subjects,’ who ‘did not pause before forcing out big words, as he so often does now, or invent mangled new ones.’

Consider in contrast, the present: ‘the informal Q&As he has tried to avoid,’ ‘Bush’s recent faltering performances,’…’his stalling, defensive pose when put on the spot,’ ‘speaking more slowly and less gracefully.’

Slowly developing cognitive deficits, as demonstrated so clearly by the President, can represent only one diagnosis, and that is ‘presenile demential’!”

This informal diagosis shook up the blogosphere, and inspired a few other doctors to give an opinion on Bush’s degenerating language ability. These distant, unofficial conclusions can tell us nothing for certain, of course, but they nonetheless pose an interesting matter to consider. To witness the “evidence” of presenile dementia yourself, check out this video, which compares speeches given by Governor Bush with President Bush.


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Category: American Culture, Media, Medicine, Uncategorized, Videos

About the Author ()

Erika is a PhD student in Social Psychology living in Chicago. Here on DI she most often writes about current events, psychology, skepticism, media and internet culture.

Comments (41)

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  1. Colomica says:

    I have grave concerns that the president is impaired and that he is meeting with leaders of other countries as though he were a legitimate representative of the American people.

    I think Dick Cheney props the president up like Nancy Regan propped up Ronald Regan after the onset of his deterioration.

    Besides the likely dementia, I can see features of four distinct Personality Disorders – most obvious being Narcissistic Personality Disorder. He also exhibits symptoms of Borderline Personality, Addictive Personality and Obstinate/Defiant Personality. The man is a train wreck. If he could get past the financial screening, he would be eligible for disability under SSI.

  2. Isn't it 'convenient' that the right-wing fanatics screwing this country up can all claim 'dementia' or Alzenheimner's or such!

    Maybe we should do like the ancient Roman Empire and start having "horses" for leaders, or senators…….

    (As a matter of fact in November, 2005, Wall Street Journal (cannot remmber the date, but around the 15 or so!), a geophysicist recoommend, "A geophyscists, two prosepctors, and a mule" for Congrees to et thangs back from insanity politics….

    There are enough "Jackaxxes" like Bush already there in power..what MORE harm could they do?

  3. Clendenin says:

    I think we are all a little quicker when we are younger. Time and experience have a way of making us a little slower because we learn that things are not quite so simple as they were when we were young and idealistic.

    Too many Americans have already forgotten about 9/11. We lost more Americans that day than we did at Pearl Harbor. No one in that day would have questioned that we needed to strike back and strick back hard. We have become too soft. The Islamist extremist are here to stay. G W has been president under some very trying circumstances and all in all has stood up to the test in my opionion. Note the Terrorist attacks in London and Scotland this week. We have not had any repeats here in the USA and Bush can take credit for much of that.

    Like him or not…….I agree with John, people who know the president say he is a remarkable man and quite intelligent. He is a Christian, and a man of undeniable character. The left is truly out of control in their attacks on our president.

  4. grumpypilgrim says:

    Clendenin writes: "Too many Americans have already forgotten about 9/11…No one in that day would have questioned that we needed to strike back and strick back hard…."

    The glaring reality that Clendenin ignores is that no one in Iraq was responsible for the 9/11 attack; thus, Bush's invasion of that country cannot be justified by pointing to that horrific terrorist attack.

    Clendenin continues: "Note the Terrorist attacks in London and Scotland this week. We have not had any repeats here in the USA and Bush can take credit for much of that."

    Yet another fact: the Bush administration is the primary source of information about the alleged terrorist threat to America, and that administration already has a proven history of grossly inflating the scope of that threat. Accordingly, there is no good reason to suggest that Bush deserves credit for anything. To the contrary, the threat is *miniscule* compared to the many other threats that kill Americans every day. Indeed, if we were to list the fifty things that an American is most likely to die from, 'terrorist attack' would not even be on the list. That is why Bush's so-called 'war on terrorism' does not deserve to be America's #1 national priority, and why the left is not "out of control in their attacks on our president." The fact is that Bush's idiotic, unjustified decision to invade Iraq has killed more than 3500 American soldiers — more Americans than died in the 9/11 attack. Americans should be just as outraged about those deaths as we are about the 9/11 fatalities.

    As regards Clendenin's assertion that Bush "is a Christian," I would point out that Hitler was a Catholic, as were many other of the most notorious butchers of the past two millenia. Accordingly, labeling someone "a Christian" does not make that person's butchery any less abhorrent.

  5. uscons says:

    George W. Bush and his paternal family for at least four generations have shown classic sociopathic tendencies. This is a condition that between 4% and 6% of the world population exhibits. It is natural for people with this condition to migrate into positions of power because they typically put "self" above all else, and it is this type of audacious self-interest that makes world leaders. This exaggerated sense of self is not unnecessary, but it requires internal control so the power achieved is used for the good of the greatest number of people in the world.

    It is not that George W. Bush is pained by decisions he has made and feels remorse; nor is it that he is simply being stubborn. George W. Bush is incapable of change; in his own mind, everything he does is okay. In his mind, he has made no mistakes. In his mind, no one has ever told him he is wrong; so in his mind, he is right. He has never had any checks placed on his behavior from birth. He is incapable of feeling remorse because he was never taught what remorse is. In his professional life, this behavior persists because he has surrounded himself with enablers. This is another characteristic of sociopaths; they get rid of people who disagree with them.

    If a psychological profile was performed, it would predict more distorted decisions will be made by George W. Bush during the last one and one-half years of his presidency.

    His crimes are being condoned by those who could stop him but are more interested in winning in 2008, so they avoid the truth. Their neglect is allowing a known criminal to continue his crime spree in our halls of government. But Congress also harbors sociopaths, and they too have placed their “self” above the welfare of our country. As expected, they usually vote to support George W. Bush’s positions.

  6. Robert Gray says:

    Instead of making jokes about the mountains of evidence complied by the media, why aren't we all exercising our rights to redress issues concerning us domestically? Such as impeachment of a president we all can see and hear is obviously corrupt and demented. The Bush/Cheeney combination has done more to destroy the USA and it's international credibility than any terrorist action on our soil or abroad. Sure there was a huge loss of life in the 9/11 attack, but the number of dead Iraqi, and other Arab's is a greater number and mostly consisting of innocent people we deem collateral damage.

    Fundamentalist christians in the USA are just as culpable for destruction and loss of life in Iraq and Afganistan as terrorist who exicuted the 9/11 attack, how convienient it is to morally justify a loss of life in 3rd world countries while sitting in an armchair relaxing surrounded by creature comforts. What you are saying really is, "my god can beat up your god" in this thinly veiled attempt to revisit the crusades. And, by the way we'll be taking your oil.

    We separated the powers of church and state for a reason in the USA. Logic is missing from the fundamental basis of religion. Our country was designed as a secular government not a theocratic institution because religion will always be a driving force for strife, owing to our freedom to choose whatever imaginary entity we choose to worship.

    If a foreign military invaded the USA and America joined together to fight an oppressive occupying military, would we accept the idea we're insurgents or would we proclaim ourselves "Freedom Fighters?"

    It is our right and responsibility as tax paying, law-abiding citizens to criticize our elected officals, our federal processes and ourselves in the formation and governance of our country. I will repeat it, as it seems a vaguely important point, OUR country. America is distracted by every day toils and media slight of hand.

    Remember the elections in Iraq? Why didn't the same type of excitement sweep the USA when our own country at election time? We obsessed over the possibility of election fraud in Iraq and ignored even greater fraud in our own country. Why? One word, fear. The USA has failed in every attempt at creating carbon copies of USA's form of democracy and subsequent freedom. How conveniently we forget the people we are fighting are those we placed in power. Why?

    Is it so difficult to see the similarities of a totalitarian or fascist regime in the combination of Bush/Cheeney administration? Look at the erosion of civil liberties domestically, we've allowed them to perpetrate in the name of safety their doctrine can NEVER provide. Terrorism will never end because it sells newspapers. Terrorism is just our current "ism" in order to justify wasted defense dollars without justifacation or oversight. Fear and ignorance are the easiest way to control the population.

    Why else would the USA tolerate a president who has less regard for the USA than Richard M. Nixon? In a democracy where majority rules why do we allow a president to remain in office when only 30% or less of our voting population approve of the bush administrations blatant disregard for liberty, law, freedom and yes life. (yes, I do mean there is life outside the borders of the USA equally as important as our own way of life)

    The world would respect the strength of our nation and sovereignty if we as a nation, including the elected senate and congress rose up as one body and mind. Impeached Bush and Cheeney both, charging them with war crimes, crimes against humanity, and staring an illegal war, failing to uphold the constitution of the USA and our laws. (instead of allowing them to change our laws to run slipshod over the world. It's not a sign of national weakness to use the powers and process to removing the most successful terrorists the world has ever known Bush/Cheeney from office, then a clean sweep of the other law breakers this administration has empowered. But, given the fact we have not used this safeguard to our democracy to save our nation and in light of this article; asking the question is Bush demented at this point is rather a moot point as the media has illustrated that clearly. Simply allowing this administration to continue begs the question in reverse. Are we as a nation suffering from dementia for allowing this administration to continue without oversight or legal recourse in breaking international laws and those of the United States of America in order to destroy this country from within over oil and religious intolerance?

  7. Blackbyrd2 says:

    For those who think that we should obey him simply because he is our president, and that he should be above questioning, I would like to point out that it is our civic duty as patriots to question those we place in positions of power. Unquestioning obedience is great if you want to be a sheep, but the fact remains that whether or not you participate in your government, you are responsible for everything it does. If you fail to speak out when those in power abuse that power, you are as guilty as they are, and should face the same consequences.

    I will say that we should respect the office, but that does not mean blind obedience and unswerving acceptance of the man's every act and statement.

    Many people are dead, and more will die, simply because he used his power for his own personal agenda. He has repeatedly undermined the Constitution of the US, which he swore to uphold and protect. It seems to me that oath-breaking is a serious business. Why else would we have them sworn?

    To say that the 'liberals' are out of hand in their attacks is to imply that the attacks are unworthy not on their own merits, but because of the political nature of the people who are making the attacks. The problem with that (apart from the whole fallacious reasoning aspect) is that it isn't simply 'the liberals' who are making the complaints and calling foul. It's over two thirds of the American population, which includes a good portion of the 'neocons' who voted for the man.

    You may disaree with the tone in which these complaints are tendered, but you can not simply dismiss them because of that.

    It is a fact that he has lied. It is a fact that he has undermined various aspects of the Bill of Rights and the Constitution itself. It is a fact that he has ignored, undercut and weakened the entire Constitutional model of government, essentially cutting two entire branches off the three branches of government by the profligate use of signing statements and by manipulating his way out of, or outright ignoring his lawful restrictions.

    To leave these flagrant abuses unnoted, to stand by and by our silence grant him absolution and permission to continue, is to fail in our duty as American citizens. We fail him, we fail our country, and we fail each other.

  8. Vicki Baker says:

    For those who think that we should obey him simply because he is our president,

    I think you're missing the intonation by those who use that term. It's not "he's our president", it's "he's our president."

  9. Blackbyrd2 says:

    Vicki: Well, I tried to do less to divide and more to unify. As it stands now, the neocons generally view the country as those who support Bush blindly, like they do, and terrorist loving traitors. Rove and the GOP have done a great job of dividing the country already. While I find it disturbing that so many are incapable of seeing anything but black and white, I want to try to fight this division. We (meaning the USA) can't afford this kind of splintering. The instigation of that mindset alone should be a prosecutable crime, IMO. And the irony is not lost on me that Bush claims to be a uniter, not a divider, and yet his administration has done more to divide this country than anything since slavery. Although that irony IS usually lost on the neocons, for some reason, even as they act out that division.

    I also noticed the comment about how 'WE' elected him. I figured if I noted that 'I' didn't vote for him either time, everything else would get overlooked.

  10. Clendenin says:

    Grumpypilgrim: You have to understand that I was comenting on the topic at hand as to wether or not G W is suffering from some kind of dementia. I brought up 9/11 only to say that he has been president unders some trying circumstances. Of course the people of Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11 and if I had my way, we would have been done after Afganistan. I don't blindly follow either the republican or demacrat platforms. If anything, I would assert that we are being ruled by the super weatlthy and that it is time for the middle class to abandon this two party system so entrenched in power. I generally vote populist or Libretarian, even if I dont agree with all of their platform just to try to swing us away from the present two party system.

    As to the wether Bush has done a good job protecting us since the 9/11 attacks, I just disagree. With all his faults, I think he has tried hard to do what he thought was right and that homeland security has been as good as could be expected. We are still very vulnerable, as we all know. The media is filled with Islamist fanatic lunacy everyday, it does not just come from the present administration. Everyone wants to slant things their way, of course.

    I do think that G W is a Christian and yes, that means something to me wether I agree with all his polocies or not. You can always question someones true commitment, but I will leave that to someone higher up than I.

    If I could say anything or true value it would be that we really, really need to get away from our present two party system and try to change it so that someone who is not "super wealthy" has a shot a being the president of this great nation.

  11. grumpypilgrim says:

    Clendenin writes: "As to the wether Bush has done a good job protecting us since the 9/11 attacks, I just disagree. With all his faults, I think he has tried hard to do what he thought was right and that homeland security has been as good as could be expected."

    As with all politics, Clendenin, it helps to follow the money. Two U.S. industries have earned obscene profits as a result of Bush's invasion of Iraq: the oil industry and the defense industry. Bush comes from the oil industry and Cheney comes from the defense industry. Do you think this is a coincidence or do you think Bush/Cheney invaded Iraq because they knew it would be a gigantic financial windfall for their pals? Before you answer this question, go see the documentary, "Iraq For Sale," which highlights just a fraction of the tidal wave of money that has flooded into the pockets of Cheney's former employer, Halliburton.

    You claim Bush "has done a good job protecting us since the 9/11 attacks," but that question obviously cannot be adequately answered without addressing the cost/benefit of his effort. What return to you see from the hundreds of billions of dollars, the years of human effort, and the tens of thousands of destroyed lives Bush has spent to invade and occupy Iraq? Looking toward the future, how many future terrorists do you think will find motivation to kill Americans because of the needless slaughter of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, and the millions of Iraqi refugees, caused by Bush's unnecessary invasion? Before you say Bush "has done a good job," you need to answer these questions.

  12. Clendenin says:

    My pal grumpypilgrim: You obviously only read what you wanted to read because my last statement clearly said that had it been up to me we would have quit after Afganistan. How much clearer can I be? I think Iraq was a mistake as well. As one who has actually lived in the middle east in Saudi Arabia, I understand muslims fairly well. I knew that the Sunnis, Sheites, and Kurds would never agree on anything and that it would very probably be a disaster after the initial conflict was over. Most Americans do not understand the Muslims not only hate the West they also hate each other very, very much.

    Yes, I agree money is to be watched and that yes much of what happens is because of it. Again…….you are bent on making your point about Bush/Cheney and… be it. I also made it clear that we nead to get away from the "money" and this two party system that is so glued to the "money".

    If we keep the status quo that the Democrats and Republicans give us, then we all deserve exactly what we will get.

  13. Erika Price says:

    Clendenin: You defintely seem to have thought things through, and have reasoning and consideration behind you positions, and I don't have a qualm whatsoever except for one detail: you say that Bush's Christianity "means something", and your general message givens the impression that, oh well, at least Bush means well. I could misread your tone, of course. But you express a cynicism of politics at the same time- only the wealthy can become president, as you point out. And as grumpy points out, following the money gives us good reason to suspect that Bush doesn't have misguided-yet-well-meaning motives.

    He sure exudes that air, doesn't he? With his everyman demeanor and his family values and unpretentious sense of humor. People want to have a beer with him. People see him as an unfortunate sap, not a malicious man. But with your fine-tuned sense of antipartisanship and political cynicism, Clendenin, you know that Bush doesn't come from that everyman background that makes up his "image". And we have no evidence for that good-spirited, moral Christian side of him that means well but fouls things up- except, of course, for the fact that he plays that part very well.

  14. grumpypilgrim says:

    Thank you, Clendenin, for following up. My apologies if I misread your first comment, but it seemed to me you said several things about Bush, his war policies, and the left-wing's criticism of him, that just don't hold up to scrutiny, so I took issue with them. For example, you said Bush has protected us from further terrorist attacks, that his Christianity means something to you and that he is a person of undeniable character. I take issue with all of these assertions, for reasons I have already mentioned. I do agree with you that Bush should have stopped after invading Afganistan, but it is hard to understand why you would support him after his cornucopia of stupid and self-serving decisions that led to his invasion of Iraq. Personally, I cannot find sufficient satisfaction from his invasion of Afganistan to overlook his disastrous invasion of Iraq.

  15. Clendenin says:

    Erika/grumpypilgrim: Erika, you may be exactly right about Bush and his character. In general, and probably to a fault, I am a person who is always looking for the good in people, and therefore, I tend to find it. I do think he has been president under some tough situations and for sure I believe he has made many mistakes. If we were wealthy, would we think differently about things? Probably, not that this makes it right. I am deffinately ready for a breath of fresh air. It's hard to see anyone running that I think fits that bill. I suppose all we can do is vote for the person we think will do the best for our country and the world. My vote as my previous posts indicate will not be for a democrat or a republican. Wasted vote? I hope not.

    Pilgrim, I do think he has been under heavy attack from the left and the media. And he may deserve most of it. If it were a demacrat in office I am sure he would be under heavy attack for whatever polocy as well. Your comment about your dissatisfaction over afganistan is understandable. I rarely have been one to post my opinions online, but I do love to hear different opinions and I trust that I will never have a closed mind on any subject!

    I will leave it at this and say that I have enjoyed the conversation……and since I will probably never meet you……………..Have a GREAT life!

  16. wow – I'm the guy who did that video – interesting to see how it's worked its way through the Inernet and blogosphere. Looking back, I have a few observations.

    1. Don't think it changed a vote 2. Almost a million views – makes you think, doesn't it? Yet hardly anyone ever followed up to the source. 3. Never could get the mainstream media to look into this – had a mention in the Manchester Guardian – that was about it. 4. There was some other buzz out there – Bush speaking in tongues – other medications – wonder if it was true?


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