Jacob Weisberg/Mark Liberman/ and Bushisms

Mark Liberman, in a LL post of January 2004, defends George Bush's occasional linguistic mishaps from Slate's Jacob Weisberg. To see what was the hullabaloo, I went to Weisberg's page to see what sort of slips he was chronicling. One that caught my interest is this one from Bush, of April 28, 2005:

"We expect the states to show us whether or not we're achieving simple objectives—like literacy, literacy in math, the ability to read and write."—on federal education requirements.

Undoubtedly, this quote plays on Bush's plans for "literacy in math"--or reading and writing ability in math if you are Weisberg. However, a very simple online dictionary, dictionary.com, gives a second sense of literacy that is "The condition or quality of being knowledgeable in a particular subject or field: cultural literacy; biblical literacy". So when the President says "literacy in math" he isn't wrong. Weisberg, on the other hand, needs to do his homework a little better.


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