The boo-boo George W Putin…, er, Bush made

Some gaffes aren’t just for laffes. They boomerang and dig up a bigger blunder made in the past. When George W Bush spoke at the – drum roll, please – George W Bush Institute in Dallas, Texas, on Wednesday, little did the audience know that he would be making a public confession via a slip of the tongue and geography. Speaking on Vladimir Putin‘s invasion of Ukraine, Dubya railed, ‘The decision of one man to launch a wholly unjustified and brutal invasion of Iraq… I mean, of Ukraine.’ With that goof-up, the US president who ordered a war against Iraq in 2003 after accusing the Saddam Hussein administration of harbouring weapons of mass destruction – and conflating Iraq and Afghanistan as a hive for Islamic terrorism that delivered the US 9/11 – momentarily (serendipitously?) confessed to being a proto-Putin.

In America, of course, such mistakes – Bush’s slip of the tongue, not war against Iraq – are allowed to slide with the help of a quip. Bush’s ‘recovery’ was muttering, ‘Anyway, 75’, referring to his age and conflating Ukraine with Iraq, and Putin with himself. Iraqis, especially, took special umbrage, many explaining Bush’s slip of the tongue as the expression of a guilty conscience, or his recurring nightmare. Freudians may, however, say that sometimes a gaffe is just a gaffe. And, Putin’s…, sorry, Bush’s was one such sometimes.


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