Daft sayings are sadly far from funny

I HAVE on my desk a calendar, given me by an American friend, which provides a daily dose of George W Bushisms - the daft sayings of the most powerful man in the world.

I HAVE on my desk a calendar, given me by an American friend, which provides a daily dose of George W Bushisms – the daft sayings of the most powerful man in the world.

This week it has offered this: “We ended the rule of one of history's worst tyrants, and in so doing we not only freed the American people, we made our own people more secure.” If only.

And this: “There's no doubt in my mind that we should allow the world's worst leaders to hold America hostage.”

Doubt seems to be one of many things missing from the Bush mind.

Now, as entertainment this calendar offers a daily giggle, sometimes a moment's puzzlement, and sometimes a shiver. But there are a couple of problems with it.

One is that not even George Dubya says enough different stupid things in public to fulfil the promise of a good laugh every day.

Most Read

Rather more serious is the tendency to make him seem somehow cosy and cute.

This is a problem shared with much of the material about Bush that has circulated on the internet since before he was first elected president – including the now-infamous collection of chimpanzee expressions.

In reality Bush and his puppetmasters are as cute as a nest of rattlesnakes. Like a snake, too, he speaks with forked tongue.

There was nothing funny about his speech this week from Fort Bragg military base to a prime-time US TV audience. Apart from the humour of seeing a man swear and swear again that black is white, and apparently believe it.

The purpose of his speech was to reassure an increasingly sceptical nation of the need for US troops to remain in Iraq .

He no doubt felt the need for this after polls showing only a third of Americans now believe they are “winning” the war in Iraq; a majority no longer believe in a link between Iraq and the “war on terror”; and for the first time a majority now believe they were misled into supporting the Iraq invasion in the first place.

It sounds like a tight spot for the Bush administration. Especially with GW's brighter, possibly nastier and certainly equally cynical mate Donald Rumsfeld now admitting US involvement in Iraq could last at least another decade.

(I wonder how the last presidential election would have gone if they'd made that admission beforehand?)

So no wonder Bush felt he had to speak up. But of course he had nothing new – or true – to say, so it was back to the old Big Lie. Say it often enough and maybe people will start believing…

In a speech supposedly about Iraq , he mentioned the attacks of September 11, 2001 not once, but five times.

There was surely a desperation in this, as if the American people had not woken up to the fact that Iraq had no connection with al-Qaeda.

Or as if they had not realised that the US presence in Iraq has turned the country into a breeding-ground of terrorism – something it was not before.

The president described the Iraqi insurgents (or, to look at it another way, freedom-fighters) as “ruthless killers” who commit “savage acts of violence”.

That seems a fair description – until you look at the figures.

Since US and British troops invaded two years and three months ago, the conflict has claimed the lives of just over 1,700 Americans – and tens of thousands of Iraqis. So who exactly are the ruthless killers?

There hasn't even been an accurate count of the Iraqi dead, which is in itself a shameful illustration of double standards.

It's worth noting, too, that the vast majority of the American deaths have occurred since April 16, 2003 – the day Bush declared the Iraq war over, and so claimed to have freed the people of both nations.