By Arthur Spiegelman
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Call it the wrong phrase at the
wrong time but “Brownie, you’re doing a heckuva job” was named
on Thursday as U.S. President George W. Bush’s most memorable
phrase of 2005.
The ill-timed praise of a now disgraced agency head became
a national punch line for countless jokes and pointed comments
about the administration’s handling of the Hurricane Katrina
disaster and added to the president’s reputation for verbal
gaffes and clumsy turns of phrase.
Paul JJ Payack, president of Global Language Monitor, a
nonprofit group that monitors language use, says Bush’s
statement in support of the then-director of the Federal
Emergency Management Agency may be remembered for years to
“The ‘Brownie’ quote leads our 2005 list of Bushisms —
memorable phrases or new words coined by the president,” Payack
said, adding that Bush may be the foremost White House creator
of new words, citing such past efforts as “misunderestimate”
(to seriously underestimate) and “embetter” (to make
Ten days after Bush verbally patted Michael Brown on the
back before the TV cameras, Brown resigned amid a public uproar
over his qualifications and the administration’s failure to get
aid to New Orleans after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina.
Although the president did not originate any new words this
year, he had several notable statements, Payack said, citing
— “See, in my line of work you got to keep repeating
things over and over and over again for the truth to sink in,
to kind of catapult the propaganda,” Bush said in explaining
his communications strategy last May.
— “I think I may need a bathroom break. Is this possible?”
Bush asked in a note to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice
during a U.N. Security Council meeting in September.
— “This notion that the United States is getting ready to
attack Iran is simply ridiculous. And having said that, all
options are on the table,” Bush said in Brussels last February.
— “In terms of timetables, as quickly as possible –
whatever that means,” the president said of his timeframe for
passing Social Security legislation in March.
— “Those who enter the country illegally violate the law,”
Bush said in describing illegal immigrants in Tucson, Arizona,
Global Language Monitor uses an algorithm to track words
and phrases in print, electronic media and the Internet. The
words and phrases are tracked in relation to their frequency,
contextual usage and appearance in global media outlets.