Like Father, Like Son

When it comes to mangling the mother tongue, George W. Bush has nothing on his dad.

Image: AP/Wideworld

George W. Bush takes a lot of heat for butchering the English language. But let’s not forget, it was George Herbert Walker Bush who admitted, in 1989, that “Fluency in English is something that I’m often not accused of.” Despite his claim in 1990 that “I just am not one who flamboyantly believes in throwing a lot of words around,” Bush Sr. left behind quite a mass of verbal wreckage. Is his son simply following in dad’s footsteps — or has Dubya developed a syntax-smashing style all his own? You decide.

  1. “I want to run the risk of ruining what is a lovely recession.”

    George Bush Sr., at a reception in Ridgewood N.J., Oct. 22, 1992

  2. “We ought to make the pie higher.”

    Born with silver feet in their mouths
    # #
    # Bush Sr. and Jr: Born with silver feet in their mouths?

    Bush Jr. during the presidential debate in South Carolina, Feb. 15, 2000

  3. “We’re enjoying sluggish times, and not enjoying them very much.”

    Bush Sr., at a press conference in Canberra, Australia, Jan. 2, 1992

  4. “I know how hard it is for you to put food on your family.”

    Bush Jr. in Nashua, New Hampshire, Jan. 27, 2000

  5. “It’s no exaggeration to say the undecideds could go one way or another.”

    Bush Sr., Oct. 21, 1988

  6. “I hope I stand for anti-bigotry, anti-Semitism, anti-racism. This is what drives me.”

    Bush Sr., New York Times, Jan. 17, 1992

  7. “I want to make sure everybody who has a job wants a job.”

    Bush Sr. on the campaign trail, 1988

  8. “I understand small business growth. I was one.”

    Bush Jr., Associated Press, Feb. 16, 2000

  9. “The caribou love [the Alaska Pipeline}. They rub up against it, and they have babies.”

    Bush Sr., New York Times, Jan. 17, 1992.

  10. “All I was appealing for was an endorsement, not suggesting you endorse it.”

    Bush Sr., Mar. 3, 1992

  11. “There ought to be limits to freedom.”

    Bush Jr., in response to the spoof website,

  12. “Please don’t ask me to do that which I’ve just said I’m not going to do, because you’re burning up time. The meter is running through the sand on you, and I am now filibustering.”

    Bush Sr., Apr. 20, 1989

  13. “The Democrats want to ram it down my ear in a political victory.”

    Bush Sr., Oct. 31, 1991, referring to a bill to extend unemployment benefits.

  14. “For every fatal shooting, there were roughly three non-fatal shootings. And, folks, this is unacceptable in America. It’s just unacceptable. And we’re going to do something about it.”

    Bush Jr., Philadelphia, May 14, 2001

  15. “[Those are] hyporhetorical questions.”

    Bush Sr. in 1988 (Village Voice)

  16. “It’s clearly a budget. It’s got a lot of numbers in it.”

    Bush Jr., May 5, 2000

(Thanks are due to several Web sites that have compiled quotes from the Bushes, including: Jacob Weisberg’s Bushisms; the Bush Library at Texas A&M University; the Useless Knowledge Bush quote archive;
and Daniel Kurtzman’s political humor section on


Mother Jones was founded as a nonprofit in 1976 because we knew corporations and the wealthy wouldn't fund the type of hard-hitting journalism we set out to do.

Today, reader support makes up about two-thirds of our budget, allows us to dig deep on stories that matter, and lets us keep our reporting free for everyone. If you value what you get from Mother Jones, please join us with a tax-deductible donation today so we can keep on doing the type of journalism 2019 demands.

We Recommend


Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.


Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.