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Wednesday, October 11th 2006

Just Declare The Whole Darn Administration Unfit

I would’ve sworn that the extreme left jumped all over Senator Frist when he pulled this stunt. Of course, it’s only wrong when the other side uses it.

I’m Confabulated, Gosh Darnit!

The video is just part of a long line of guesses and comments about mental deterioration in our current president. The most prominent of such was a letter to the editor in The Atlantic (subscription) from a Michigan doctor.

This was all the way back in 2004 and as The Boston Globe recounts,

Dr. Price’s children happened to have given him a daily tear-off calendar of “Bushisms” for Christmas. “They are horrible, but they are also diagnostic,” Price says. When he read that Bush had spoken clearly and performed well while debating Texas politician Ann Richards in 1994, Price thought: “My God, the only way you can explain that is by being Alzheimer’s.”

In a letter to be published in The Atlantic’s October issue, Price calls presenile dementia “a fairly typical Alzheimer’s situation that develops significantly earlier in life. . . . President Bush’s `mangled’ words are a demonstration of what physicians call `confabulation’ and are almost specific to the diagnosis of a true dementia.” He adds that Bush should be “started on drugs that offer the possibility of retarding the slow but inexorable course of the disease.”

I find trouble with trying to diagnose someone from video clips. In this case it is made worse (if that is possible) because we’re trying to do so from very selective, unrepresenative clips.

No one knows for sure, except the President, what was going on in these video samples that make them different from one another. From my viewing, it looks like he might be reciting a memorized text in his answer’s during the debate with former Governor Richards, may she rest in peace.

In anycase however, the whole darn effort to paint a diagnosis on someone without an exam, is just improper. As The Boston Globe says,

University of Massachusetts neurology professor Dr. Daniel Pollen thinks it is bootless to speculate about Bush’s condition without a formal neuropsychological assessment. “I think it’s unfair to say somebody has or does not have a dementia as an analysis based on his public utterances,” says Pollen, who is not a Bush supporter. Noting that Bush spoke well in his debates with both Richards and Al Gore, Pollen adds that Bush’s “peak performances are not in the range I would consider for anybody to have Alzheimer’s disease in the near future.”


Bush’s 2001 and 2003 physical exams, which show normal neurological functions. “There is nothing to suggest that there has been any change from those reports,” says White House spokeswoman Erin Healy.