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Talking Turkey

Kimberly Gadette

Where did our East Coast boy get that Texas twang?

To: President George Herbert Bush
cc: Mrs. Barbara Bush

Re: Your son's alarming speech pathology.

Dear George Herbert Bush:

Forgive the intrusion, but as a professor of phonetics and an expert dialectician, author of Higgins Universal Alphabet, I felt compelled to write to you regarding the mystifying accent emanating from your son, one George ("Double Ewe") Bush.

Ah, how rude of me. Here I am going on, without so much as a formal introduction. I am Professor Henry Higgins of 27 Wimpole Street, London, England, at your service. As I have been previously quoted by that upstart, Mr. George Bernard Shaw, "I pride myself on being able to place any man within six miles. I can place him within two miles in London. Sometimes within two streets." Perhaps you've heard of me and my work; with all due modestly, my claim to fame is the lovely Miss Eliza Doolittle.

To the point of this particular letter: Born with a forked tongue wrapped around a silver spoon, Double Ewe had the excellent sense to relocate his corporeal being from his mother's womb to yet another cushy spot, the rich cradle of his homeland a/k/a New Haven, Connecticut. Given his roots, I found myself utterly at odds at my inability to reconcile his upper crust upbringing with his down-home, pork rind vernacular. How did such a well-born lad end up spouting such bone-chilling, beef-on-the-hoof patois? Wherever came his "West-Texas-By-Way-of-a-Jimmy-Dean-Sausage-Commercial" drawl? Heavens, what a sound! Harder on the ears than a bobcat's reaction to a head-to-toe body waxing, it is. I must confess that I had never been so stymied by such a frightful bludgeoning of the English language.

Reviewing your son's roots, I discovered that Double Ewe's grandfather, Prescott Bush, was a United States Senator from Connecticut. And you, good sir, George Herbert Bush, hail from Massachusetts. And with Mrs. Bush' roots being from Rye, New York (an upper class community in Westchester), no answers could be discerned from parentage.

Undeterred, I realized that oftentimes an accent develops not from family surrounds, but from proximity to one's peers. Therefore, perhaps it was during the lad's schooling, the rubbing of chaps with his chaps, that led his twangy tongue astray. But private high school happened at Phillips Andover Academy in Massachusetts, just a short pony ride away from Boston. Double Ewe's dubious foray into higher education first took place at Yale, with an undergraduate degree in history, followed by an MBA at Harvard. One can safely assume that the original Don't-Give-Him-A Loan Star, Willie Nelson did not guest lecture in any business tax course; therefore, unless Double Ewe was active in each and every college "steer"ing committee, all manner of bull seemed to point to his degrees, not his accent.

"Higgins," I said to myself, "don't be a blithering idiot. What about delving into Double Ewe's summers and holidays?" But damn, damn, damn... as the rain is in Spain -- the Bush Compound's in Maine. Curses. Foiled... a-gain.

Rather like an overcooked pot of chili, the plot became thicker. Assuming the role of a modern-day Sherlock sans his Watson (Colonel Pickering volunteered but he's woefully allergic to an excess of bull), I refused to be thrown off the trail and instead, pointed my ill-fitting boots toward the land of Neiman and Marcus.

Like a Tex-Mex jalapeno salsa, I was hot and getting hotter. Finally out of college, Double Ewe's life had been entwined with big business and politics. It turns out that he had lost many personal pesos from his own oil company's attempt to mine black gold in Houston, the appropriately named Ar-"Bust"-o. But I noted that you sir, Bush Senior, had been the first Bush to set up shop in Texas -- yet to this very day you speak with no hint of a twang. I could read your lips from noon till night and go blind waiting for even one trace of a "y'awl".

Almost at the end of my lariat, the tequila-laced worm turned! A clue -- as large as the population of illiterate school children since Double Ewe has ruled the land -revealed itself. Forgive my momentary lapse of reserve, but given my keen mind and extraordinary sense of intuition, I was able to finally put the puzzling puzzle, the doppelganger of the Double Ewe, together.

Here's the thing: According to highly reliable sources that I shall not reveal no matter how I am threatened, when Double Ewe lost in his 1978 run for Congress, the West Texas ranchers voted against him because of 1) your Bush family's East Coast elitism, and 2) your connection to the Rockefeller world power (a three-country power base called the Trilateral Commission). And isn't it a charming coincidence that starting around 1979, Double Ewe backslid into the best-soundin' good ol' boy he could be, fixin' to be prezdint one fiiiiiine day.

Not only that, but in his early 40s, ready to make a decidedly serious run at high-power politics, your son abandoned the family tradition of the Episcopal church in order to embrace a new Christianity. He emerged a reborn, renewed, rechewed baby Bush, baptized by the likes of a Pat Robertson and his pals. And whoo-eee, wuzz'n it graate that next thang he knew, he wuz a Tex-ass guv'ner.

May I offer my half-hearted congratulations to you and your son in spite of his verbal flounderings. But to be frank... I'm wounded. You obviously went to a secondhand dialectician for his coaching. Someone obviously not as accomplished as yours truly. Someone who taught more "ranch dressing" than ranch.

My dear Mr. Bush, between your ties to the CIA that could have covered any and all tales of your son's suspect behavior (i.e., drunken car crashes, the Texas National Guard, his grade point average in school), and my proper elocution lessons, the ever-growing rumblings about a wooden Pinnochio-turned-President would have never occurred. Now I fear that everyone's seeing the strings. If only you'd been a bit wiser and thought to have called on me years ago!

There seems to be a growing sentiment in your country that the rubber-chicken fried steak that Double Ewe's been serving is no longer appetizing. My sources tell me that America is sick of the mechanical bull, that anyone with half an ear can now "drawl" their own conclusions. Even worse, I hear through the BBC that your son is but a phony populist waging a phony war with phony humility, phony religion, and oh dear Lord, can anyone honestly stomach that rhinestone cowboy routine?

Ah, well... if you hire second rate, then that's what you get. But don't despair, all is not lost. If you find yourself in need of coaching in the future, and I dare say you will -- after all, isn't there a Mr. Jeb Bush waiting in the wings, desperately in need of some authentic, Cuban-spiced speech? -- I'll be more than happy to lend a hand. As well as an ear.

Respectfully yours,

Professor Henry Higgins

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