President Bush smiles alongside Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong during his meeting with leaders of APEC nations in Sydney on Friday, Sept. 7.
I think it’s deliberate. Perhaps even scripted. I mean, a president of a country – and the most powerful one at that – couldn’t possibly sink to such level of absurdity.
Well, as usual, President Bush was at his best again in mixing his words and letters – which has become some kind of a trademark for his presidency.
During the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Sydney, Australia on Friday, Sept. 7, Bush raised eyebrows and tickled the funny bones of his audience anew.
What did he say? He confused APEC with OPEC (Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries) and gave Australian troops a new citizenship – Austrian!
Bush’s tongue started slipping almost as soon as he started talking at a business forum on the eve of the APEC summit in Sydney.
“Mr. Prime Minister, thank you for your introduction,” he told Australian Prime Minister John Howard. “Thank you for being such a fine host for the OPEC summit.”
As the audience of several hundred people erupted in laughter, Bush corrected himself and joked, “He invited me to the OPEC summit next year.” Australia has never been a member of the OPEC.
Later in his speech, Bush recounted how Howard had gone to visit “Austrian troops” last year in Iraq. There are, in fact, no Austrian troops there. But Australia has about 1,500 Australians military personnel in and around the country.
Upon finishing his speech, Bush took the wrong way off-stage and, looking slightly perplexed, had to be re-directed by Howard to a center-stage exit.
Then a veteran White House correspondent asked Bush whether there had been any new message in his speech. Apparently misunderstanding the question, he bristled and asked, “Haven’t you been listening to my past speeches?” before turning away.
The latest Bush faux pas followed his mangling of the English language during Queen Elizabeth II’s visit to the United States last May.
At a welcoming ceremony for the British queen, he nearly placed her in the 18th century.
Then there was the famous incident at the G8 summit in St. Petersburg in 2006 when Bush, unaware he was on camera, greeted British Prime Minister Tony Blair with the words “Yo Blair.”
Bush’s sometimes muddled syntax and mispronunciation of words like nuclear (“nukular”) have long been fodder for late-night TV comedians. But aides say his folksy style has helped endear him to Middle America.
Better watch out Jay Leno or David Letterman! Georgie is out to dislodge you on the late-night show after he leaves the White House!