By Matt Taibbi
Mark Crispin Miller, author and longtime New York University professor, has unconventional views. Even work he’s done that’s won mainstream praise is unconventional, upon close examination. If you came of political age during the Iraq war years, you probably remember him for The Bush Dyslexicon, a witty, challenging book that took a deep dive into the speech patterns of George W. Bush.
Unwrapping the thought processes behind famed “Bushisms” like “The question is, how many hands have I shaked?”, Miller found a metaphor for the broad illogic under American society. However, that book’s central idea — that “we Americans have been tricked out of our democracy by a vast and very smart conspiracy of stupid talkers” — was too rich for some mainstream commentators.
Crispin Miller argued that when people like Donald Rumsfeld told us that “victory” in Iraq may not come “in a month or a year or even five years,” that in fact even fighting forever might be a “victory, in my view,” the joke was not that this message was garbled by Bush, but rather that it was conveyed clearly by “producers, anchors, editors, journalists, and pundits,” who were “fatally dyslexic in doping out the very spectacle it presents to us.” Presenting madness as sanity required a brokenness of mind that just happened to come of the president’s mouth as laugh lines.