"I'm the decider, and I decide what is best. And what's best is for Don Rumsfeld to remain as the secretary of defense." — Washington, D.C., April 18, 2006
First, I wonder whether a little context — which Slate unfortunately doesn't provide, and doesn't even link to — might be helpful. Here's the broader exchange (April 18, 2006):
QUESTION: Mr. President, you created a practice of not commenting on potential personnel moves, calling it speculation...
BUSH: Of course, I do. You can understand why: because we've got people's reputations at stake.
And on Friday, I stood up and said I don't appreciate the speculation about Don Rumsfeld. He's doing a fine job. I strongly support him.
QUESTION: Well, what do you say to critics who believe that you're ignoring the advice of retired generals, military commanders, who say that there needs to be a change?
BUSH: I say I listen to all voices. But mine's the final decision.
And Don Rumsfeld is doing a fine job. He's not only transforming the military, he's fighting a war on terror — he's helping us fight a war on terror.
I have strong confidence in Don Rumsfeld.
I hear the voices. And I read the front page. And I know the speculation. But I'm the decider and I decide what is best. And what's best is for Don Rumsfeld to remain as the secretary of defense.
The insistence that "I'm the decider" might sound slightly odd out of context. But in context, it's simply a reflection of the question — the questioner is stressing that some retired generals think Rumsfeld should go; so are various other commentators; Bush is stressing that it's not up to the generals or the newspapers to make the decision, but up to him.
But beyond this, what does this have to do with "The president's accidental wit and wisdom," the Bushisms column's subtitle? Am I missing some funny grammatical error? Some other instance of accidental wit? And if the criticism is a substantive criticism of Bush's message, wouldn't that require, well, some actual argument, rather than just a "Here are some silly words that speak for themselves"?
UPDATE: Commenter Confused suggests that the problem might be the use of "decider" instead of "decisionmaker." I hadn't even thought of this, but on reflection I agree that "decider" is considerably more often used to describe a deciding event -- especially a deciding event in sports, according my quick LEXIS search -- rather than a person who decides.
Yet the Oxford English Dictionary lists "One who or that which decides (a controversy, question, etc.)" as one of the definitions (the other indeed being "spec. in Racing. A final race or heat which decides the contest; esp. an extra one run for that purpose, e.g. after a dead heat."); the examples fit the "one who decides a question" definition. And the word "decider" used to mean "one who decides" fits so easily with normal rules of English word formation that it didn't even strike me as odd. (Yes, I know that normal rules of English word formation sometimes produce results that ordinary English speakers would actually never use, but the OED suggests that this isn't one such instance.) So at most, it seems to me, one would say that the usage is mildly unidiomatic, not wrong, silly, or even inadvertently funny.
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