I just read the following item on the Reuters (UK) website:

Bush trips over Abu Ghraib pronunciation

Tue 25 May, 2004 08:38

CARLISLE, Pennsylvania (Reuters) – Two rehearsals for his prime-time speech were not enough to keep U.S. President George W. Bush from mangling the name of the Abu Ghraib prison that brought shame to the U.S. mission in Iraq.

During the half-hour televised address, Bush mispronounced Abu Ghraib each of the three times he mentioned it while announcing U.S. plans to tear down the infamous jail and replace it with a new facility.

The prison, the scene of torture under Saddam Hussein and the setting for the Iraqi prison abuse scandal under the U.S. military, has a name that English speakers usually pronounce as “abu-grabe”.

But the Republican president, long known for verbal and grammatical lapses, stumbled on the first try, calling it “abugah-rayp”. The second version came out “abu-garon”, the third attempt sounded like “abu-garah”.

White House aides, who described the speech as an important address on the future of Iraq, said Bush practised twice on Monday before boarding his helicopter for his trip to the speaking venue at the U.S. Army War College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania.

Okay, so I know that a lack of public speaking ability and poor diction don’t necessarily indicate low intelligence. However, do you think we should get someone in office next who can pronounce important names if given ample time to practice?

On a side note, the news report also mentions that Bush wants to tear down Abu Ghraib and build a new maximum security prison. This raises three questions:

1) Does the Bush administration think the building itself was the problem?

2) Why didn’t they comprehend beforehand that using Saddam Hussein’s notorious ‘correctional’ facility– with the name intact– was perhaps not a good step in reassuring the Iraqi people that things were changing for the better?

3) Is the new maximum security facility going to be anything like those in the U.S.?

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