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Another Mystery Bushism:

I'm very pleased that the Bushisms column has finally started linking to the original source for the alleged Bushism, so that readers can determine for themselves whether the quote is accurate and in context. Still, I can't figure out what the Bushisms author thinks is the problem with today's quote:

"In this job you've got a lot on your plate on a regular basis; you don't have much time to sit around and wander, lonely, in the Oval Office, kind of asking different portraits, 'How do you think my standing will be?'" — Washington, D.C., March 16, 2005

Is the supposed inarticulateness the mild mismatch between "sit around" and "wander," because wandering requires standing, not sitting? I take it that Bush was using "sit around" as partly figurative — when you're asked what you did Sunday, and you say "I sat around the house," your behavior need not have been limited to physical sitting — and partly as one activity in a set of activities: You can spend part of your time sitting around brooding and part wandering lonely, talking to portraits. Is it that he should have said "What do you think my standing will be?" instead of "How?"

Just a bit more context: Bush was asked a question about whether he felt vindicated by recent events; he gave a serious answer, but understandably felt that it would be better if leavened with some impromptu humor. So he told a little off-the-cuff joke, which the audience seemed to like (you can hear laughter, and I doubt that they were laughing at the sit around vs. wander problem on the how vs. what). Articulate, educated, intelligent readers of mine: Are all your extemporaneous jokes marvels of perfect word choice? Friends of Slate writers: Are all their extemporaneous jokes immaculately crafted?

Just what in Bush's quote is deserving of mockery?

UPDATE: Some readers suggested that Bush was actually saying "sit around and wonder" rather than "sit around and wander"; it's possible, but I think he was indeed talking about wandering around the oval office talking to the portraits that are presumably hanging on the wall -- it makes more sense that you'd wander around to talk to them. Other readers suggested that Bush was alluding to Wordsworth's "I wandered lonely as a cloud"; that's also possible. But even if neither theory is correct, my point still stands: There's nothing worth mocking in what Bush was saying.