April 26, 2006

"I'm the decider, and I decide what's best."

That Bush quote has gotten a lot of attention, including this front-page NYT article. It's not about Bush, though, and then it's not even about how regular people have started saying "I'm the decider" to their spouses. Well, one guy did, but then the article devolves into an inquiry into who makes the decisions in relationships. I feel I've been had. An article I wanted to read -- one that whispered "bloggable" to me -- was just another dumb "relationships" piece.

Anyway, I rather like the idea of "I'm the decider, and I decide what's best" catching on in relationship talk. It's a cool way to exert control, but take the edge off it with humor, shifting the attention from your controlling behavior onto our presumably ridiculous President.

And have we figured out yet if "decider" is a word? In law, we use the term "decision-maker" all the time, so if "decider" is a word, we should be ashamed of our verbosity. However, if "decider" isn't a word, the President should be ashamed -- one more time -- of his language garble-making.

Dictionary check: "Decider" is a word! Recalibrate your ridiculousness assessment.


Al Maviva said...

It's not criminable to say "decider."

For a person with remarkably fractured diction, Bush's meaning is incredibly clear. He is the political Casey Stengel.

Matt Brown said...

Consider my ridiculousness assessment reconfabulated!

Bruce Hayden said...

Discussion about this the other day on volokh.com after it turned up on, I believe, Slate, as a "Bushism" of the week. A lot there didn't like the word and the usage, but the general consensus was that it was a correct usage of a real word.

Jennifer said...

They interview a couple for the express purpose of reporting that they wanted to leave a dinner party at different times?

I've always wondered how they find these random filler people.

peter hoh said...

What do you get when you combine Bush 2 and Arnold?

The Decidenator.

It's got a certain toughieness feel to it.

SippicanCottage said...
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jakemanjack said...

shhhh....Idiot left/democrats don't know that.

Tibore said...

Yay! Sipp wins the prize for the first Simpson's ref, and within 10 posts too!

No, I don't know what the prize is. This isn't my blog ;)

Bissage said...

I hear that in some jurisdictions an interlocutory order can be challenged by filing a "motion for redecidification."

Hamsun56 said...

"Decider" sounds more decisive than "decision maker".

SippicanCottage said...
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Jacques Cuze said...

I was surprised when I heard him say that, I honestly felt Cheney was the Decider, and George was the Leaker-In-Chief.

I always favored "The buck stops here", but that would be entirely inappropriate as a description of either of our deciders.

MrCurious said...

I disagree with quxxo. I think "I'm the decider, and I decide what's best" is the 21st version of Truman's quote. In any case, how refreshing for a president to clearly indicate that the decision is his, and he will be ultimately responsible. You may disagree with the position, but you gotta like the guts.

MrCurious said...

Please append the word centur after 21st....sorry

Jeff said...

"However, if "decider" isn't a word, the President should be ashamed -- one more time -- of his language garble-making."

"...his language garble-making"?!?

How about pride in his ability coin new words and usages? I hear people use "misunderestimate" often enough, and you know the irony will fade quickly.

Jacques Cuze said...

MAKE THE PIE HIGHER a poetry slam of actual quotes of George W. Bush

I think we all agree, the past is over.
This is still a dangerous world.
It's a world of madmen and uncertainty
and potential mental losses.

Rarely is the question asked
Is our children learning?
Will the highways of the Internet become more few?
How many hands have I shaked?

They misunderestimate me.
I am a pitbull on the pantleg of opportunity.
I know that the human being and the fish can coexist.
Families is where our nation finds hope, where our wings take dream.

Put food on your family!
Knock down the tollbooth!
Vulcanize society!
Make the pie higher! Make the pie higher!

I think the Republican Party misunderestimated how much damage a rich, spoiled, underqualified frat boy could do to their party.

John(classic) said...

It is also the title of a Dick Francis novel in which one person must choose among the choices offered by a factionalized family.


SippicanCottage said...
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Bruce Hayden said...


We shall see how much damage the rich spoiled frat boy does to his party at the next election. If the Republicans lose Congress, then you are right. If they don't, then your point is a lot more questionable. The WSJ makes a good point today that statistically, the Republicans probably will hold both houses in the next election. We shall see though.

Of course, look at who he ran against - two guys who grew up just as privileged as he. Both had been groomed since childhood for the presidency. The big difference with Kerry was that he hadn't attended an exclusive American prep school, but rather an exclusive Swiss prep school.

Arguably, John McCain was not as privileged. Yes, both his father and grandfather were 4 star Admirals. And that probably helped a bit getting him into Anapolis. But, it still isn't probably as bad as the privilege of Bush, Gore, and Kerry.

Joseph Hovsep said...

I think the consensus, if there was one, from discussion of this issue at Volokh was that "decider" may have been a technically correct usage on some level, but that it is a "Bushism" because it is typically awkward and common/childish (like "You're not the boss of me"). Some say this trait is an indication of disrespect or lack of intelligence. Others say it shows his ability to relate to average people. Either way, its classic GW Bush.

I'm curious about how many invented words or new uses of existing words may seep into the language of the future. A high school teacher pointed out that the 1920s are sometimes called a "return to normalcy" (as was a chapter in our textbook) because Harding used the phrase even though normalcy was not then accepted as the standary noun counterpart for normal.

Aspasia M. said...

I must say -- I can't see it going over well in a marriage unless it is purely a joke.

jeff said...

So, what did people think about "The Buck Stops Here"?

Same thing, different way of saying it.

Richard Dolan said...

Bush has gotten a lot of mileage from his occasionally unique use of English. Al says he's the "political Casey Stengel," and the phrase fits (and not just because of the baseball connection). "Decider" has a nice ring to it, just as "misunderestimate" did. And I liked quxxo's little ditty, but probably not for the reasons he does.

Unlike his most recent predecessors, including Clinton and Bush 41, people will remember W for his oddball flair with language. There's nothing fake about it, and in some ways it captures the best (and perhaps the worst as well) about his style of leadership. Direct, confident, plain, able to laugh at himself, not egotistical or self-absorbed, but not big in the nuance department either, and far from the most patient or cautious guy we've had in the White House. Try to think of any really distinctive use of language associated with Clinton or Bush 41 that comes even close.

The more the folks who have hated Bush from the get-go use his idiosyncractic verbal tics to try to show that he's just a dunce or a "rich, spoiled, underqualified frat boy," the better it is for W with everyone else.

John Henry said...

How is "I am the decider" any different than "The buck stops here"?

Other than the apparent fact that when a Demmie says it it is OK. Not when a Repo says it, though.

John Henry

stoqboy said...

Of course decider is cromulent, and we are all embiggened by Bush's popularization of this word. In answer to JOE, check this out for examples of our living language. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cromulent#C

Jacques Cuze said...

How is "I am the decider" any different than "The buck stops here"?

What has Bush taken responsibility for? Not the failure to catch Al Qaeda, not underestimating what it took to stop the insurgency, not the failure to consider a levee break during a hurricane, not for scaring the bejeezus out of Iran while not allowing negotiations with them to the point that Iranians went ahead with nuke production, not the failed war in Iraq, not the burning of american credibility around the world, not the high gas prices as a result of his failed policies, not the flat stock market, not the low employment, not the k-street corruption aided by Delay that leads into his White House, not the destruction of FEMA, not the ineptitude of the TSA, not for appointing Rumsfeld, not for the lack of body armor, not for the California Energy Scam that his Energy Department allowed Enron to conduct,

But yeah, apartment from that, saying "I am the decider" is exactly like saying "the buck stops here."

Jacques Cuze said...

"apartment" guffaw, must be some freudian slip as a result of my finishing this post while im'ing colleages and friends.

Bruce Hayden said...


In other words, you are faulting the President for refusing to play "gothcha" politics with the liberal media.

Most of your "gotchas" are somewhat absurd. Why was it his job to predict a levee break in NOLA? He doesn't have a degree in civil engineering, and even if he did, that would be one of the last places I would expect him to be spending his time. You ignore that parts of the federal government were first on the scene with rescue efforts, long before the local authorities, who had the legal and moral responsibility, were there. Yes, and it may surprise you, but the federal government has no legal or moral responsibility to predict levee breaks.

And note that the reason that the levees were not getting worked on was because the LA Congressional delegation "earmarked" its COE funds for other projects. The COE couldn't work on the levees because it didn't have money for it, and it didn't have money for it because the LA delegation required that it be spent on other projects in LA.

As for body armor, that again is absurd. Yes, it was found after we went into Iraq that there was better body armor available. And, as fast as the procurement process could work, it was acquired. Today, the problem is too much body armor, not a lack of it. No one was predicting this before the invasion. Ditto for up-armored Humvees. They weren't acquired for that mission, and the lack of armor didn't become apparent until after the invasion when they started getting blown up with IEDs. You didn't predict it, and neither did I.

But your complaint also presupposes something else - that we could have waited until these problems, unknown at the time, could have been fixed. But that ignores the evidence that we found later that if we hadn't invaded when we did, it would have been far harder to do so later. First, and foremost, sanctions were failing. Three of the five permanent members of the UN security council had been bribed, and one of them (France) had assured Saddam that the next vote on sanctions would fail. Of course, there is also evidence that Iraq was poised to restart its WMD programs when those sanctions did fail - chemical within a week, and nuclear weapons within a couple of years.

As Secretary Rumsfeld said, you go to war with the military you have, and not the one you want. (with the corrolary that if you wait until you have the one you want, you will never go to war).

Synova said...

And people thought it was horrible that Rummy said that... except for most people in the military for whom it was nothing more than stating the obvious.

Jacques Cuze said...
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Synova said...

What on earth are you talking about?

Jacques Cuze said...

"But that ignores the evidence that we found later that if we hadn't invaded when we did, it would have been far harder to do so later."

Uh, all of the evidence shows that there were no WMDs and no WMD programs. At the time of the invasion we had a no fly zone and inspectors that were inspecting up until when we pulled them out to start the war.

We could go in then, or we could have gone in months later with better information based on more current inspections.

The no-fly zone was costing $1B per year. We are currently spending $10B per week.

And we are pinned down and cannot show a credible threat to Iran or NK. And Bush and Rummy are refusing to take blame for that.

But in the meantime, our war with Iran and Iraq have genned up $75 per barrel oil, and Bush is not taking responsibility for that.

But it is creating lots of windfall profits for his oil buddies -- my guess is he will take credit for that -- behind closed doors.

Elizabeth said...

This will probably bring out the "Bush Derangement" bots, but here goes.

It may be an actual word, but it still sounds extra-f*cking stupid. Just stupid as hell. And it was said in all seriousness, which makes it just all the dumb, dumber, dumbest.

Ann Althouse said...

But, Elizabeth, that comment really does have a "deranged" tone!

Palladian said...

Too bad there's not a feature on Blogger that limits the length of comments. It's quite annoying to scroll over the 10,000 word dumps left by certain commenters.

Elizabeth said...

Thanks, Ann. I tried by best!

Elizabeth said...

Dammit! My best. (I'm congested, by golly.)

Elizabeth said...

Palladian, I think I have a helpful suggestion for you. If you click on the poster's name, that scrolls up the comment and hides it.

Synova said...

It *does* sound stupid. Who could argue with that?

I will say, though, that my baby sister employed poor grammar in high school to avoid being picked on for the fact that she's exceptionally bright. I disapproved when I found out but apparently it worked for her.

willyd21 said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.