The Instigator
RoyLatham
Con (against)
Winning
100 Points
The Contender
feverish
Pro (for)
Losing
68 Points

George Bush is an idiot

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 29 votes the winner is...
RoyLatham
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 3/14/2010 Category: Politics
Updated: 6 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 11,020 times Debate No: 11353
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (51)
Votes (29)

 

RoyLatham

Con

Understand that I am Con in this debate.

In one of the Forum threads, http://www.debate.org... ddo member emmalmalcolm made the claim "Bush is actually an idiot. Obama is a brilliant lawyer, professor, speaker and author. You can disagree with his policy but that's just fact." The claim is common. I challenged emmalmalcolm to defend the claim, but emmalmalcolm, despite having been on the site, let the challenge expire. So now I am opening the challenge to anyone who believes they can make the case.

The claim being so apparently outrageous, it is appropriate to require that Pro bear the burden of proof and make a case as to why that claim is true. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof.

So we each have equal space to debate, I will not present any argument in this opening statement, and Pro agrees to pass in the final half of R4.

To get us started, a standard dictionary definition of "idiot" is:

Idiot:
1 usually offensive : a person affected with extreme mental retardation
2 : a foolish or stupid person
http://www.merriam-webster.com...

As emmalmalcolm claimed in her forum assertion, it is not about differences in policy, it is about mental capacity.

I challenge anyone to make a case, and look forward to the debate.
feverish

Pro

Disclaimer: This is just a debate, no offense is intended towards the former president of the United States of America.

Thank you so much Roy for the opportunity to debate this intriguing topic with a debater as skilled and distinguished as yourself.

I hope that this will be a fun, informative, instructive and perhaps somewhat humorous debate where we can discuss the quirks and foibles of this well-known public figure without dwelling too much on politics.

At the risk of offending his many faithful followers, supporters and family members I am compelled to affirm the resolution:

Former president George Bush Jr. or George W Bush is indeed an idiot.

___________

I will begin this debate by examining the fine definitions supplied by my opponent from the Merriam-Webster dictionary and will build my case as I go.

Idiot:
1 usually offensive : a person affected with extreme mental retardation

OK I'm not going to claim that Bush was born with an extreme subnormal mental capacity which is indeed the true primary definition of an idiot because I don't believe that's true. I WILL discuss the possibility that the dementia that many people (including health professionals) have tentatively diagnosed in Mr. Bush could perhaps qualify as "extreme mental retardation" but this will NOT be the crux of my argument.

I think the qualifier of "usually offensive" before the definition is very significant here. Like most offensive terms used in everyday language, the term idiot is not generally intended in a purely literal sense.

If we hear someone call another person a d*ckhead we don't assume they literally have a phallus emerging from their forehead. If someone says "b*tch" we don't assume they are addressing a female dog and homosexual slurs are freely addressed towards confirmed heterosexuals with no element of irony.

Similarly when people refer to George Jr. as an idiot we don't mean it in the literal sense of extreme retardation but rather the colloquial sense represented by our second definition.

Idiot:
2 : a foolish or stupid person

Note that the primary trait of this our core definition is not actual stupidity but rather foolishness and this is what I intend to prove in this debate.

__________

George Bush is a fool.

A foolish person is essentially a figure of ridicule and fun as in the traditional sense of a court jester [1] being titled "Fool" (as in Shakespeare's King Lear [2]) and I don't think there is any disputing the status George Bush has achieved in this regard, most notably here, on what he might call "the internets". [3]

The sheer volume of humorous material regarding George Bush is phenomenal. Satire, parody, video, audio, de-motivational posters[4] all exist in abundance and the reason for this is clearly the man's personality, most notably the difficulties he has had constructing complete, coherent and relevant sentences when speaking in public.

I have provided a few of my favourite examples of foolish gaffes by Mr. Bush in the videos at the top of this post and I think it is clear that he fits the criteria of a foolish person in terms of being an entertaining and comedic figure of fun and mockery.

The other common definition of a fool is "a person lacking in judgment or prudence" [5] and I believe this can also be applied to the former president.

I won't go into details about Bush's sometimes rash and poorly thought out military, domestic, diplomatic and economic decisions (at least not in this round anyway) because Roy has articulated that he wants the debate to focus on "mental capacity" rather than policy. I do think though that some of the decisions Bush has made [6] as well as his poor judgement in choosing the right thing to say at public engagements (see videos again) is good evidence of his foolishness in this regard.

______________

Extreme mental retardation.

Many people over the years who have been dumbfounded by the former president's inarticulacy and apparent lack of cognition have suggested all sorts of medical explanations. Conditions from dyslexia [7] to alcohol withdrawal [8] and the after-effects of drugs [9] have all been posited as reasons for George's difficulties.

Perhaps the most reasonable and well-qualified assessment however is that Mr. Bush could be suffering from pre-senile dementia [10] the main symptoms of which are forgetfulness and impaired speech [11]. It is clear that the negative mental effects of this condition are extreme and that it would support the first definition of an idiot.

A letter from medical doctor Joseph M. Price to The Atlantic gave a clear diagnosis which is worth quoting from at length:

"Slowly developing cognitive deficits, as demonstrated so clearly by the President, can represent only one diagnosis, and that is "presenile dementia"! Presenile dementia is best described to nonmedical persons as a fairly typical Alzheimer's situation that develops significantly earlier in life, well before what is usually considered old age. It runs about the same course as typical senile dementias, such as classical Alzheimer's--to incapacitation and, eventually, death, as with President Ronald Reagan, but at a relatively earlier age.

President Bush's "mangled" words are a demonstration of what physicians call "confabulation," and are almost specific to the diagnosis of a true dementia. Bush should immediately be given the advantage of a considered professional diagnosis, and started on drugs that offer the possibility of retarding the slow but inexorable course of the disease." [12]

_____________

My opponent has described the resolution as both "outrageous" and "extraordinary" but I think I have demonstrated how it is an entirely reasonable statement in many respects.

I believe I have presented overwhelming evidence that George Bush qualifies as "a foolish person" in terms of being regarded as a comedy figure ripe for mockery and mickey-taking.

I think I have also made a compelling case for him being "foolish" in terms of often lacking good judgement and making rash decisions.

Lastly I have shown there is a distinct possibility that he may actually be suffering from a serious medical condition that has severely retarded his mental faculties.

In short, the man is an idiot.

Thank you.

[1] "Fool 2 a : a retainer formerly kept in great households to provide casual entertainment and commonly dressed in motley with cap, bells, and bauble" http://www.merriam-webster.com...
[2] http://www.shakespeare-online.com...
[3] http://en.wikipedia.org...
[4] http://www.motivatedphotos.com...
[5] Fool 1 http://www.merriam-webster.com...
[6] http://www.top10list.com...
[7] http://www.iol.co.za...
[8] http://en.wikipedia.org...
[9] http://www.tomflocco.com...
[10] http://priory.com...
[11] http://www.ehow.com...
[12] http://www.susanohanian.org...
Debate Round No. 1
RoyLatham

Con

Pro has taken on the onerous task of defending Bush Derangement Syndrome (BDS), the mental affliction by which Bush critics duck debate on the issues by calling Bush an "idiot" and dismissing all rational argument as irrelevant. For those suffering from BDS, Pro need not show up for the debate. To the BDS afflicted, it's all just so obvious that anyone who disagrees with them is an idiot that there is no need to argue issues.

Let's start with the definition. Pro is attempting an equivocation on "idiot." He claims idiot = fool = funny. The opening statement made it clear that the debate was not about humorous behavior, it was all about "mental capacity." The motivation for ridiculing Bush's stumbling speech is not that it is funny, it is that they can use it as an excuse to not treat policy issues as policy issues and debate them as such. The way it goes, BDS style: "Everyone knows we cannot win in Iraq. It is so completely obvious that only an idiot cannot see it. Look at Bush's stumbling speech. He's an idiot. So that ends the discussion." Of course, not everyone suffers from BDS, and there were very legitimate discussions of policy by opponents. But those discussion were not by people who relied on the "he's an idiot" claim to bolster their superiority.

1. I certainly grant that Bush had a problem with stumbling speech. It's also true, for example, that President Roosevelt needed a wheelchair. The question is whether either president's impediment had an impact on their respective ability to make decisions. Pro has provided no evidence whatsoever of any diminished decision-making capacity. He wastes an enormous amount of space citing Bush's verbal stumbling, but offers no evidence of anything else. For example, there is no evidence of his becoming forgetful or disoriented or unable to properly conduct meetings. Bob Woodward, who uncovered Watergate, wrote a book about the decision making process that led up to the Iraq invasion.http://www.amazon.com... Woodward concluded the Bush asked all the right questions of all the right people. Bush is noted for his encyclopedic ability to recall names and faces, an important ability for politicians. There is no evidence of that ability being diminished.

2. Pro claims that there is some correlation between speaking ability and mental capacity. There is some consensus among historians that the worst speaker among U.S. Presidents was James Madison. He was so poor a speaker that he was not allowed to give the valedictorian address at Princeton, his alma mater. By all accounts his speaking ability was about a one on a scale of ten. Madison was "pale complected, a poor speaker, a perpetual hypochondriac and secret epileptic, pursued by bouts of depression ... And yet his political achievements and intellectual legacy are monumental." http://astore.amazon.com... The point is that a good deal worse than stumbling speech can be wrong with a president without him being in any meaningful sense an "idiot." Calling Bush policies "idiotic" is nothing more than a desire to be arrogantly dismissive, it is not evidence.

3. Pro contends that Bush's poor speaking is consistent with an onset of dementia. Right, and the appearance of crop circles is consistent with the theory that Vegans have come across the galaxy to stomp our wheat. Being consistent with a wild theory does not prove the theory. In this case, one problem is that there is no objective evidence that Bush's speaking problems has worsen. He was a poor speaker when he began his tenure as president. My observation is that he improved during his time in office, but I have no objective evidence of that either.

Bush's Farewell speech had one small stumble ("would ... should"). If his mental ability had diminished as claimed, it should have been a complete mess. It was a fine speech. http://video.google.com...# It could not exist under Pro's contention.

Recently Bush gave his first speech since leaving office. "One attendee ... said Mr. Bush appeared to speak without a prompter and only occasionally referred to notes." http://www.nytimes.com... I saw television press reports that claimed his speaking style was much improved compared to his presidential style. A logical explanation is that the pressure of being president caused his verbal stumbling. Compare it to stuttering.

4. I ask Pro and the readers of this debate to perform a thought experiment. Imagine someone with a camera follows you around for every minute you are in public. Imagine they do this for a day, a week, a year. Then the video is given to a large team of people whose joy in life is portraying you as an idiot. It takes about a couple dozen YouTube clips to make the case. How do you think you would fare? Tell me Pro, how would you do? I wouldn't do well. Bush's speaking ability is not nearly as bad as his obsessed critics would have you believe. He gave many speeches with few stumbles. There is a parallel case of President Gerald Ford being tagged with being clumsy. He tripped coming out of an airplane once, and thereafter every misstep was a news event. Chevy Chase made a living falling down on Saturday Night Live in mockery of Ford. In truth, Ford was an outstanding college athlete and if anything our least clumsy president. It's just a whole lot easier to mock someone than argue with them.

5. The President gets a thorough physical examination every year, with the significant results made public. There were no diagnosis of any mental deterioration. Pro is hereby encouraged to entertain us with a conspiracy theory. Those visitors from Vega can do more than stomp wheat, you know.

6. Bush is intelligent. Prior to 1974, the SAT was an IQ test. The 80% correlation of SAT to IQ was as close as any IQ test correlated to any other IQ test. The original SAT concept was that (verbal + math)/10 would equal IQ, but it turned out that some correction tables are required. Bush's SAT score was 1206, as revealed by his Yale transcripts. One published table http://members.shaw.ca...
proved a correspondence to an IQ of 125. Another conversion http://www.braingle.com... yields an IQ estimate of 129 from Bush's scores.

By definition, the average IQ is 100, and Bush is in the upper 3%. Bush may be compared to the IQ estimates of 143 for Richard Nixon and 117 for John Kennedy. Bush had a point or two over John Kerry. Barrack Obama has concealed his test scores and educational records, but his failure to qualify for National Merit Scholarship recognition puts an upper limit of 129 on his IQ. http://voxday.blogspot.com...

Bush received an MBA from Harvard. His grades were better than John Kerry's.

7. If BDS critics really thought that verbal gaffes were a since of mental problems, they would be nailing up Joe Biden. Biden told us how President Roosevelt went on television after the Market crash of 1929 and explained the whole thing to the American people. The two problems with that being that Roosevelt wasn't president then, and television hadn't been invented. Biden gaffes abound. http://politicalhumor.about.com... The YouTube search for Biden gaffes produces 115 videos. http://www.youtube.com...

So do we have an idiot a heartbeat away from the Presidency? Nah, not a problem. The very same people who are eager to find Bush an idiot don't have the slightest concern. Clearly, it is all about ideology.

==============

The "Bush is an idiot" mantra is nothing more than an attempt to dismiss arguments rather than make them. The claim is most often made while ranting like an idiot.
feverish

Pro

Thanks for your response Roy.

To be honest, I am a little disappointed that my opponent has not done more to fulfil his share of the burden of proof. I know that in his introduction Con stated that the burden should rest with me but let's quickly take a look at his reasons for this assertion again:

Con: "The claim being so apparently outrageous, it is appropriate to require that Pro bear the burden of proof and make a case as to why that claim is true. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof."

There are clear contradictions between these statements and another from a few sentences before.

Con: "The claim is common."

"Extraordinary" means out of the ordinary or unusual and is clearly an antonym of the word "common". http://www.google.co.uk... If the claim is common then how can it be described as unusual or "outrageous"?

I am not trying to shed my burden here, merely encouraging my opponent to take more responsibility for establishing his own case.

==========

Con: "Pro is attempting an equivocation on "idiot."

One which is supported by my opponent's own definitions and his preferred dictionary.

Con: "The motivation for ridiculing Bush's stumbling speech is not that it is funny, it is that they can use it as an excuse to not treat policy issues as policy issues"

Whoa, of course it is! I find it hard to believe that even the most stony-faced aficionado of Bush would fail to raise at least a smirk at some of Bush's golden moments. Con has no basis for assuming that all such humour is politically motivated. I would suggest that most of the people who laugh at and assemble these clips probably have little interest in politics.

=========

1. My opponent compares Bush's speech problems with Roosevelt's confinement to a wheelchair. The problem with this is that it is far more important for a president to be able to talk than for him to be able to walk.

As the role of president primarily involves decision making and communication, mental incapacity is clearly a far greater drawback than physical incapacity.

Con: "Pro has provided no evidence whatsoever of any diminished decision-making capacity."

I did refer to this but kept it to a side note since Con emphasised that this should not be a debate about policy. See source #6 from my last round.

Con: "Bush is noted for his encyclopedic ability to recall names and faces"

However "noted" for this ability he may be, George clearly does not possess it.

There is a well known video of Bush failing to correctly name many world leaders including his ally General Musharaff of Pakistan. The video is at the top of this post and the substance is discussed in this link. http://www.salon.com...

___________

2. Con: "Pro claims that there is some correlation between speaking ability and mental capacity."

Con does nothing to refute such a claim.

I don't see the relevance of James Madison to this debate.

____________

3. Con: "Pro contends that Bush's poor speaking is consistent with an onset of dementia. Right, and the appearance of crop circles is consistent with the theory that Vegans have come across the galaxy to stomp our wheat. Being consistent with a wild theory does not prove the theory."

Ridiculous comparisons aside, this is no wild theory but the professional opinion of a medical doctor that my opponent should properly address rather than dismissing. Bush's symptoms are "almost specific" to the condition described, whereas there are plenty of more likely explanations for crop circles.

Con claims to have observed an improvement in Bush's speech during his tenure but admits that this can't be verified objectively. I would ask readers to take a quick look at my second video this round to observe the level of deterioration for themselves.

Con also suggests that George spoke poorly as president because he couldn't handle the pressure. If this is the case then it was surely a foolish decision to take on the role and if the pressure could have such an impact on his speech, I dread to think how it could have affected his decision making abilities.

__________

4. Con makes the case that we all stumble over words and make mistakes sometimes and that it is simply Bush's incredibly high public profile that has caused such attention to be focused on his blunders. I will admit that even someone as articulate and erudite as myself (he he) makes the occasional mistake. The main difference however is that most of us are aware of such errors as soon as we make them, whereas Mr Bush generally remains oblivious.

Bush's total lack of awareness of what he is saying when he makes a blunder is what makes the clips so hilarious and also what puts his behaviour beyond the range of typical human error. If he corrected his blunders promptly himself then they would be far less news-worthy and lol-inducing.

The fact that he occasionally does manage to string a successful speech together is no great defense. This should be the norm rather than the exception.

__________

5. Con seems to be determined to label me as some kind of conspiracy theorist merely for questioning a former president's mental health. You don't have to imagine a very complex conspiracy to suppose that confidential patient information could be kept private, as in cases like Ronald Reagan. http://books.google.co.uk...

__________

6. Con's assessment of Bush's IQ is unscientific, illogical and also irrelevant.

A maths and English test is not an IQ test. It is also entirely possible for someone with a high IQ to have poor judgement, therefore being foolish. Proper IQ tests give a range rather than a precise figure and I have argued that Bush's mental capacity has significantly deteriorated, making any assessment of his school-boy IQ insignificant.

Con: "Barrack Obama has concealed his test scores and educational records"

This is more of a conspiracy claim than any I have made. It's also pretty irrelevant.

__________

7. Biden does seem to have made a lot of gaffes and I'm willing to accept that he may be a foolish "idiot" too. This doesn't address the case of George W Bush.

========

Con: "The "Bush is an idiot" mantra is nothing more than an attempt to dismiss arguments rather than make them. The claim is most often made while ranting like an idiot."

I sincerely hope I haven't ranted or behaved idiotically in this debate and I think if anyone is dismissing arguments it is my opponent.

He has not given a serious response to the diagnosis of Dr. Price. (idiot 1: Merriam-Webster)
He has not denied that Bush has sometimes lacked judgement and made foolish mistakes. (idiot 2, fool 1: Merriam-Webster)
He has not denied that Bush has become a comical figure of ridicule (idiot 2, fool 2: Merriam-Webster)

I eagerly await my opponent's response.

Thanks.
Debate Round No. 2
RoyLatham

Con

Pro says he is disappointed that I didn't prove that claims that Bush is an idiot are common. That has nothing to do with the debate. Pro accepted the debate and has the responsibility to defend the resolution. A Google search for "Bush is an idiot" produces over seven million hits. Common enough?

Pro wants to know how something common can be outrageous? For example, about 40% of Americans believe in astrology. That is both common and outrageous. It is outrageous because the belief cannot be derived by a logical or scientific process.

Pro maintains that so long as definitions are strung together from the same dictionary that equivocation is not possible. Equivocation has nothing to do with the dictionary, it has to do with using different meanings of words. I charged that "Bush is an idiot" is chanted not because he stumbles over words, but because opponents disagree on policy, but find ridicule easier than legitimate debate. I appreciate Pro confirming this by pointing to his [6] that lists policy differences. By reference to the list we can learn that according to Po's scripture anyone who does not believe in global warming crisis is an idiot and that the Valerie Plame affair proved Bush an idiot, even though Plame was found to have been outed by a liberal Democrat. That is Bush Derangement Syndrome flapping in full plumage.

I'm disappointed that Pro ignored many of my specific challenges. I challenged Pro to provide hard evidence that Bush's word stumbling increased over the years. He pointed to one example and claimed it was typical. I showed counterexamples and Pro said they didn't count because they were only examples, while his examples are supposed to count. I challenged Pro to give confirming evidence outside of speech making. All Pro offered was a lame list of policy differences.

1. Recall of names and faces refers to people Bush has met and meets again. I don't dispute that Bush stumbles in public speaking, but what I asked for was evidence outside of the context of public speaking. For example, evidence that Bush could typically not recall the names and faces of people on Capital Hill, or that he seemed disoriented, or unable to conduct meetings. Pro gave no evidence.

2. Pro says I did nothing to disprove his claim that speaking ability indicates mental capacity. He does not see the relevance of James Madison being the worst speaker among U.S. presidents and also one of the most brilliant minds to hold the office. The claim made by Pro is that all we have to know is that Bush is a poor public speaker and with only that knowledge he supposes we can conclude that Bush is an idiot. If Pro's claim were true, then we could similarly conclude that James Madison was an idiot. But we know that James Madison was not an idiot. Therefore Pro's claim is false.

3. Pro cites one doctor who opines that Bush may have presenile dementia. It is unethical for a physician to make such a diagnosis without contact with a patent, but what exposes the diagnosis as false are the lack of evidence that there were any symptoms outside of the context of public speaking, lack of evidence that Bush's speaking ability diminished rather than improved, and his recent demonstration an ability to speak well without a teleprompter or frequent references to notes. Obama is yet to demonstrate the ability to give a speech without a teleprompter, so it must be an extraordinary intellectual achievement.

Pro says his video demonstrates deterioration, but I referenced Bush's Farewell Speech which was perfectly coherent and had few stumbles. Pro has the burden of proof to show that his example is typical, but he has not attempted to do that. Having a bad day can be attributed to any number of factors other than the Bush-hating doc's remote diagnosis.

Let's suppose for a moment that the BDS doc is correct. That does not make Bush an idiot. It means nothing other than that Bush stumbles over words in formal speeches. Having a medical condition, and Madison had a load of them, does not make a person in any sense an idiot. There is a long list of highly accomplished people who suffered from mental conditions. http://www.disabled-world.com... Note the "speech impairment" list. It is insulting to suppose that any impairment whatsoever makes a person "an idiot."

Pro supposes that speech making is a critical skill to being president, and it was therefore foolish of Bush to seek the Presidency. It's up to the voters to decide what combination of qualities they want in a candidate, and Bush was not only elected, but re-elected. It's safe to say that would not have happened if Pro's selected examples were typical. Bush judged his skill adequate, and the people agreed. That's pretty smart.

4. Pro says that most of us immediately correct our speech errors, but Bush does not. We may do so in private speech, but few of us know what we would do in the public spotlight. Pro has presented no evidence that Bush had problems with word stumbling in his private conversations, or that he didn't correct any errors immediately. Novice debaters can appreciate the difference between private and public settings, even though an academic debate is a very modest "public." Few people speak formally with the fluidity they have in informal conversation.

The point is that each of us has some quirk that can be exploited by determined opponents to make us look "idiotic." If Bush didn't stumble over words, something else would have been found. JFK had a habit of starting his answer to every question with "Let me say this about that ..." The pattern was mocked, but he continued to do it.

Bush, of course, was well aware of his habitual stumbling over words, and he frequently made fun of his problem.

5. The President is subject to yearly medical examinations. It is clearly the responsibility of the examining military physician to reveal any problems that would impair the President's ability to govern. Pro cites Reagan's onset of Alzheimer's Disease being concealed until the symptoms became severe. That occurred after Reagan left office and was a private man again. Had physicians detected significant impairment while Reagan was in office, they would have had an obligation to reveal it.

"But even with the hindsight of Mr. Reagan's diagnosis, his four main White House doctors say they never detected any evidence that his forgetfulness was more than just that. His mental competence in office, they said in a series of recent interviews, was never in doubt. Indeed, they pointed out, tests of his mental status did not begin to show evidence of the disease until the summer of 1993, more than four years after he left the White House." http://www.nytimes.com...

The quotation also shows that physicians examining a President are aware of their responsibility to diagnose and report mental impairment. Bush had an absolutely clean bill of health as judged by top-flight physicians who actually examined Bush as a patient, as opposed to the solitary sniping by a BDS physician that Pro cites.

6. The SAT was designed as an IQ test, as my references made clear. Also, MENSA accepts pre-1994 SAT as an IQ test. http://www.mensafoundation.org... Pro claims Bush's IQ deteriorated, but his arguments are not convincing. Critics are fond of making the false claim that Bush was never very bright.

7. The point about Biden is that policy differences drive the criticism of Bush.

Dr. Price's errant diagnosis is contradicted both by the evidence and Bush's examining physicians.
I completely deny that policy disagreements are more than policy disagreements, particularly Pro's lame list.
Bush is ridiculed only by his extremist critics. That doesn't justify their claims.
feverish

Pro

Thanks Roy.

There are several straw-man arguments in Con's last round, where my points have been misunderstood or misrepresented. I apologise if I have been at all unclear.

I never asked Con to prove that the resolution is a common claim, of course it is.

In attempting to explain how something can be both common and outrageous, Con carefully avoids addressing the word "extraordinary" that I referred to at greater length. Clearly something can not be both common and extraordinary.

The point of my last round opening arguments was that since the claim is common (as confirmed by the 7,000,000 Google hits my opponent refers to) and is not extraordinary (since it can't be both) then Con's assertion that I alone should bear the burden of proof in this debate is not valid.

Yes I am Pro and therefore have to uphold the resolution but I argue that as the instigator of the debate, Con should also bear the burden of proving the resolution false.

Con: "Pro maintains that so long as definitions are strung together from the same dictionary that equivocation is not possible. Equivocation has nothing to do with the dictionary, it has to do with using different meanings of words."

The meaning of words is of course defined by dictionaries so the two things are clearly intrinsically linked. I never made a claim about equivocation being impossible.

"Equivocation is a logical fallacy that alters a word's meaning in the middle of an argument"http://ddofans.com...

My opponent started this debate with more than one definition from the same dictionary and it was in the very first round of debate that I responded to these same definitions while also defining some of their component clauses from the same source. I don't see how this qualifies as the fallacy of equivocation.

At Con's request, I have kept policy discussion to a minimum in this debate. The link that lists some examples of bad policy, Con labels as "lame" because he does not agree with 2 out of 10 "mistakes". Con ignores details relating to military and economic decisions for obvious reasons.

Regarding my supposed failure to provide evidence of the deterioration in Bush's speaking, the footage of Bush speaking far more fluently as governor of Texas should not just be compared with the later footage from the same youtube clip but also with the countless other examples I have provided (and indeed any other available footage) of Bush during his presidency.

The deterioration is clearly apparent to even the most stubborn Bush-ite. Con claims to have shown counter-examples but has linked to just one video. Bush does do a decent job (for him) in his last presidential address but he still stumbles twice in the 2 minute speech (0.30, 1.35) he also speaks very slowly and stiffly, clearly being prompted both visually and via earpiece. If Con has evidence of George during or post-presidency speaking with anything approaching the fluidity he achieved as a younger man then I would like to see it.

_______

1. Con:"Recall of names and faces refers to people Bush has met and meets again"

This was not remotely implicit when the claim was made. Why should his recall of people he has met be better than his recall of important international figures? While it is difficult to research for sure whether Bush had already met any of the leaders he could not name in the interview, I think it clearly shows his lack of an "encyclopedic" memory, the extraordinary claim made by Con.

For evidence of him seeming disorientated, there is plenty in the Bushism clips. Most notable perhaps are his failure to remember which door he had come in by, his reaction when informed of the 9/11 attacks and thinking he is in Austria when he's in Australia. http://www.rawstory.com...

2. I don't know enough about James Madison to have an opinion on whether he was (or is) an idiot but the suggestion that he was a poor speaker as well as a mighty intellect cannot lead us to any conclusions on Bush. While speaking ability may not be a reliable criteria to judge metal capacity on it's own, it clearly can be a good indicator of it. We would expect a brilliant college student to be a much better speaker than a brain-damaged illiterate for example.

3. Rather than address the substance of Dr. Price's claim, Con focuses on the ethics. I have argued above about the evidence of deterioration that any neutral observer will have seen for themselves. Obama is as irrelevant to this debate as Madison but he has actually given plenty of clear and articulate speeches without prompter or notes, I will provide an example in the comments section.

Con: "It is insulting to suppose that any impairment whatsoever makes a person "an idiot."

Dementia represents a serious retardation of mental capacity, see my sources from round 1.

The fact that people voted for Bush does not make him "smart", it means that a great deal of voters are either:

a) None too smart themselves, or (more likely),
b) Not too concerned with intelligence and more impressed by a 'man of the people' than with one of those uppity intellectual types.

4. Of course public and private speaking are two different things but I don't see any reason why a person would be less aware of what they are saying when they are speaking in public. If anything people are likely to be more self-conscious and aware of what they are saying in such a setting.

Although I've obviously not addressed any audiences on the same scale as Bush has, I am generally aware of the slightest mistake I make when speaking on stage, into a microphone or just addressing a group of students. I am confident that many novice debaters in this site are also more aware and generally just 'better' at public speaking than Bush has been for a long time. Also many Bushisms take place in less formal settings and one-on-one interviews.

5. I would be interested to know if there is any kind of law that dictates that White House physicians must make significant findings public? My understanding of the doctor/patient confidentiality agreement is that it is pretty watertight. My opponent's NY Times source regarding Reagan does not support his claim that a president's medical information is automatically in the public domain: "The doctors said they had taken the *unusual* step of discussing their former patient's medical history publicly".

Presumably Bush also has his own private doctor(s) that report to him in confidence, so he and his advisers would've been ready for any nasty surprises. Obviously a Republican administration eager to get their candidate re-elected would have the motive and means to place a doctor sympathetic to their needs in this position. It would not require much of a conspiracy to ensure that undesired details could be kept out of such a report.

6. There is not room to debate here whether SATs are a valid IQ test (although these sites debunk the claim: http://www.pbs.org... http://www-rohan.sdsu.edu...) or to discuss the validity of IQ tests in general. The fact is that Bush's schoolboy exam results have no impact on the arguments I've made.

7. Con: "The point about Biden is that policy differences drive the criticism of Bush."

I think the volume of clips of Biden gaffes Con referred to easily refutes this. Despite his party affiliation and the fact that he has a much lower profile than Bush, Biden is just as susceptible to foolishness and, in turn, mockery. Con's insistence that such derision is politically motivated seems delusional.

______

As requested, I won't debate in the last round, unless of course Con makes any entirely new arguments that warrant a response.

I'm out of characters but my arguments stand.

Face it, Bush is an idiot.

Pro.
Debate Round No. 3
RoyLatham

Con

How does a child or an immature ideologue deal with people with whom he disagrees? He calls the person an "idiot," leaps on his high horse, and rides away without arguing the issues. George Bush is called an "idiot" for no reason other than to dismiss Bush in a highhanded way while avoiding arguing the issues. We know frustrated Bush haters use "idiot" as an epithet. The subject of this debate is whether "George Bush is an idiot" is true in the literal sense of "idiot," in the sense of profoundly limited mental capacity. The meaning of "idiot" in terms of mental capacity was made abundantly clear in the debate challenge.

Even though the meaning with respect to mental capacity was clear, Pro first attempted to equivocate by equating "idiot" with "funny." Pro references a definition of "equivocation" from the non-authoritative debatefans.org that equivocation means changing the meaning of a word in the middle of an argument. But if one goes through to the debatefans references, one finds "Equivocation is the type of ambiguity which occurs when a single word or phrase is ambiguous, and this ambiguity is not grammatical but lexical." Pro's attempting to use "idiot" to mean "funny" from the first round is therefore equivocation. Since I made the definition clear in challenge, it actually meets Pro's definition as well. We are discussing Bush's mental capacity and nothing else.

Pro shows that he understands exactly what is going on when he references a list of Bush policies in support for his claim that "Bush is an idiot." Among the events claimed to support the claim of "idiocy" is the Valerie Plame affair. Ultimately Richard Armitage, a liberal Democrat was found to have outed CIA employee Plame. http://www.cbsnews.com... How on earth does that show Bush to have diminished mental capacity? Neither Bush nor his staff had anything to do with Plame being outed. Pro then responded that there were other policies on the list he presented that showed idiocy, but Po didn't say what or defend the claim that the showed Bush was an idiot. The list has nothing beyond ordinary debatable issues like "foreign policy."

Pro wants to know how something can be both common and extraordinary. The claim that Bush is proved an idiot by the Plame affair is an example of an "extraordinary" claim. It is extraordinary in the sense that it defies logic and the facts of the matter, just as belief in astrology defies logic and the facts, no matter how common the belief. The phrase "extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence" was popularized by Carl Sagan, who used in in the sense of claims that go beyond the apparent known facts, not merely uncommon. http://en.wikipedia.org... Bush earning an MBA from Harvard, running successful campaigns, leading the government, and conducting the business of the executive branch is not remotely consistent with the claim of him being an "idiot" and therefore the claim of inferior mental capacity is an extraordinary one requiring extraordinary evidence.

1. Pro asks why Bush's recall of people he has met should be better that recall of lists of world leaders. It is for the same reason that students have a different problem in recognizing their classmates than memorizing names in history books. It is simply a different skill, and Bush by all accounts had exceptionally good skill for remembering people he met. Bush was noted for giving people odd nicknames. That's a variant of a well-known technique for remembering things by association.

2. I challenged Pro repeatedly for evidence of mental deterioration outside of the context public speaking events. Did Bush become forgetful of people, unable to conduct meetings, disoriented, unable to identify his colleagues, or unable to field questions? Pro offers no evidence that any such thing happened. Pro cites one incident of Bush being unable to quickly identify the exit door at a public speaking event, but anyone could suffer such a minor embarrassment. Everything else Pro offers is a collection of verbal stumbles shown in YouTube clips. That's all in the context of public speaking. A book by investigative reporter Bob Woodward revealed Bush to be asking all the right questions of all the right people.

I challenged Pro for evidence of progressive deterioration. Pro has nothing other than video clips that showing that on some occasions he spoke worse as President than one occasion when he spoke as governor. Pro has no objective evidence of deterioration, like statistics on his verbal stumbles. My impression is that Bush improved as a speaker during his Presidency. Pro simply asserts that he did not. We do know that Bush's Farewell Address was perfectly coherent, with few stumbles, and that recently Bush spoke well without a teleprompter and with few notes. A person with mental capacity diminished to the level of "idiot" could not have performed so well.

4. Bush tends to stumble over words while speaking in public. A basic question is whether word-stumbling makes Bush "an idiot." I pointed out that James Madison was probably the worst public speaker among presidents. Pro first pretended not to know the significance of a counter example to his theory that speaking ability is liked to idiocy, and he offers, "I don't know enough about James Madison to have an opinion on whether he was (or is) an idiot." Pro doesn't know that Madison wrote the Constitution? Actually, Pro doesn't need to know on his own, because I provided a reference citing Madison as one of the greatest thinkers on government of all of history. I also provided a list of famous intelligent people who suffered from mental disabilities, including speech impairments. Pro's contention that a speech problem proves a person "an idiot" is disproved.

5. Bush has the credentials of high IQ and education. Bush was examined by a team of physicians every year. Evidence shows that the physicians examining the President look for mental deterioration. We know that the physicians would have an ethical obligation to expose any mental problems, particularly anything that would remotely justify calling the man "an idiot." There is a team of physicians, and they would recognize their obligation to the well-being of the country. Pro offered merely the irresponsible diagnosis of a Bush-hating physician who never examined Bush and ignored the contrary evidence of Bush being fully capable outside of the public speaking context. But even the irresponsible diagnosis did not come close to justifying the term "idiot."

Pro claimed I had not addressed the substance of Dr. Price's bogus diagnosis, only the ethics of a physician diagnosing a person he had never met. In fact, I pointed to the examinations by physicians who had actually attended and tested Bush and to the evidence inconsistent with the diagnosis. Pro offered no justification for believing an unethical physician.

6. Pro referenced two ridiculous critiques of the SAT, neither by a credentialed author and neither offering any refutation of the high correlation to IQ cited by MENSA and others. One of Pro's references is a diatribe entitled "The Fascist Origins of the SAT Test." Yeah, sure. he test was invented at Harvard for the purpose of identifying for admission bright students who suffered from poor schools.

7. Vice President Biden is a constant source of gaffes, many involving wild errors of fact, not just verbal stumbles. Pro comments that, "Biden is just as susceptible to foolishness and, in turn, mockery." Sure, but the question is whether all the people who branded Bush "an idiot" also point to Biden's gaffes as proof that Biden is an idiot suffering from severely diminished mental capacity. No, Biden gets a free pass. He is said to be just silly, not mentally defective.

Verbal stumbles are not evidence of severely limited mental capacity.

The resolution is negated.
feverish

Pro

Thanks for an excellent debate Roy, most enjoyable.

I hope that people take the time to read the debate rounds rather than voting based on their preconceptions.

Thanks all.

Pro.
Debate Round No. 4
51 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by GeoLaureate8 6 years ago
GeoLaureate8
Christopher Hitchens said that idiot Bush jokes are the jokes stupid people laugh at because Bush is actually smarter than them.
Posted by feverish 6 years ago
feverish
"Feverish actually says that George Bush is not the definition of an idiot. Last time I checked that counts for something....."

At no point did I say that. While attempting to clarify a clear definition from the two that Roy supplied, I conceded that Bush was not BORN with an extreme mental retardation. Developing a condition during your lifetime could still qualify for the litereral sense of idiot as I argued (perhaps unwisely).

Much thanks alto, pitbull and anyone else who left a reasonable comment explaining their vote, your opinions of how I did in the debate are more important to me than all the 6 and 7 point votes with no explanation.

I'm disappointed that so many people thought my conduct was bad but hey ho, never mind.
Posted by Controlledemo 6 years ago
Controlledemo
Feverish actually says that George Bush is not the definition of an idiot. Last time I checked that counts for something.....
Posted by RoyLatham 6 years ago
RoyLatham
alto, The poster said, "Finally, Bush is actually an idiot, Obama is a brilliant lawyer, professor, speaker and author. You can disagree with his policy but that's just fact." The poster was comparing intellect. Why would it be reasonable for anyone to interpret being "actually an idiot" to not mean "actually an idiot"? So, for example, if I called some member of ddo "actually an idiot" would it be reasonable to suppose that all I meant was that I had some disagreement over their particular opinions? I think it would be an insult to their intellect.

Let the probability that someone accepts the debate be P. My expected value of the debate is then
P x (value of showing the claim "really an idiot" is a product of ideological blindness) + (1-P) x (value of discouraging outrageous claims in forums). The expected value is positive for all P. The expected cost to debate.org members is P x (value of time reading the debate if they are interested or not reading the debate and voting on it -- both positive) + (1-P) x (time reading the challenge and declining). That's only negative if most people thought reading the challenge was a waste of time. Given all the interest generated, that doesn't seem to be the common case. Therefore I was correct assuming a positive expected value for both me and the ddo members.

I do appreciate your comments. Its give me an understanding of how you think.
Posted by RoyLatham 6 years ago
RoyLatham
GA, I person who is "really an idiot" has a mental deficiency that makes them at best marginally functional in society. The idea that it could be concealed short of participation in a debate is ridiculous. No one could be an idiot and get close to entering Harvard grad school, let alone graduate. Your idea that "real idiots" rarely show idiotic behavior is completely false. I dramatically substandard IQ cannot be concealed.

Had you read the debate, you would have discovered what Bush did with respect of inquiries prior to Iraq, and whether Bush was qualified for MENSA. You didn't read the debate. That helps confirm my theory that Pro didn't need to say a word to get the votes of Bush haters.

Among the things Bush did prior to Iraq was to meet with CIA Director George Tenet, who was appointed by Clinton and retained by Bush. Bush asked if it could be proved that Saddam had WMDs. Tenet said it was a "slam dunk." This was confirmed by Tenet. Bush also sent Colin Powell to the CIA to look for contrary intel that hadn't been reported. Powell again confirmed the conclusion. In retrospect, we know Saddam was trying to fool the world into thinking he had WMDs, and being an absolute ruler, that wasn't too difficult. You should read Woodward's book if you want more.

In the debate, I documented that Bush's IQ was tested at 125-129. I referenced the MENSA web site. The MENSA requirement is 130. MENSA is after the top 1%, Bush is in the top 3%. For reference, Obama is also below 130. For the record, I don't think an IQ over 130 means much in terms of the ability to be president.
Posted by alto2osu 6 years ago
alto2osu
Furthermore, having read the post you refer to, I would disagree with your interpretation of his assertion of Bush being an idiot. In order to leap to the conclusions that you do, you really have to stretch, and essentially put words into the poster's mouth.
Posted by alto2osu 6 years ago
alto2osu
"I thought the most likely outcome would be that no one would take the debate, rather than try to argue nonsense."

So, which is it? That you didn't think anyone would try to argue nonsense, or that you wanted someone to take it so that you could beat them via semantics? Maybe it's just me, but in the aftermath you are sending mixed messages.

And I never said it was a bad or worthless debate. On the contrary, I think it was a good use of both your time and our's as readers. I simply offered my two cents as to how the round went (at least, initially).

To be frank (again), I do believe that Bush is, in the colloquial sense, a bit of an idiot. I also think that he could be defended as "not an idiot" from that definition, as well. In fact, in terms of party agendas, he's been phenomenally successful in promoting his party. His time in office, from that point of view, was not wasted. Furthermore, the idiocy could also be claimed a facade (not in a conspiratorial sort of way), but as a clever political move, or even simply characterized as a personality trait that didn't need to be changed for him to be successful. His mistakes were less than extraordinary (at least, based on the people I interact with on a daily basis), making him truly a man of the people.
Posted by RoyLatham 6 years ago
RoyLatham
alto, You are wrong, the forum post meant "Bush is really an idiot," clearly understanding the difference between the colloquial use and the serious use. The debate got a response, and as good a defense of the ridiculous assertion as could have been made. I was hoping that no one was so ideologically perverted as to actually believe it, but I wouldn't have posted it if I didn't think there was a possibility it would be accepted.

One reason for issuing the challenge is that the forums are full of assertions that are logically indefensible, and people use the forms to say absurd things without having to defend them in a formal debate. I encourage the practice of challenging people who say outrageous things to defend them.

I think it was an enormously interesting debate. Back in the Middle Ages people explained evil in world through devils and hobgoblins of all sorts. The world has not changed, people has just modified their concept of magical evil to suit modern times.
Posted by alto2osu 6 years ago
alto2osu
Well then, to be frank, why post it on a debate website, Roy ;) To prove a point via an unfulfilled challenge based on a premise that wasn't even meant by its inspiring forum post?
Posted by GA 6 years ago
GA
Roy, based on the bar you set, it would impossible without getting Bush directly involved in this debate to determine the level of stupidity he has. So we look for evidence to the contrary. Has he shown anything that would convey that he is not an idiot? True, idots do not always exhibit idiotic behavior. But they also rarely if ever show evidence that they are brilliant (although a monkey might even type something brilliant f given enough time and a typewriter).

So, an ivy league education does not convey brilliance or idiocy. While it is true thatroughly 1 in 17 applicants get accepted and that their criteria is extremelly high, it is also true that some get in based on family and financial relationships. The evidence for Bush's entry is overwhelming. Obama has no available strings to pull.

That Kerry was just as poor a student as Bush COULD help lay the groundwork for a similar debate regarding him, this isn't a debate about Kerry. Fortunately, no one is judged by their college grades alone but what they do with the education they have. Kerry became a successful prosecutor before entering politics with his law degree. Bush ran businesses into the ground never earning a profit in any business venture with his MBA.

I do not rely on descriptions from one third party individual whose accounts were edited by unknown individuals as a basis for anything. That you state that Woodward stated that Bush made the "right decisions" is a very subjective statement. On what basis do you consider them the right right questions and right decisions?

On presidential debates are NOT debates. They are forums for getting their rehearsed talking points out on the air. What comes out of the mouths of presidential candidates is often the work of a team of people in the background who have worked for weeks to tailor the message. Even Sarah Palin - another idiot - can look good when following a script.

What evidence is there that Bush is NOT an idiot? Is he MENSA? LOL
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