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http://www.sina.com.cn 2004/09/03 10:20  《英语学习》

  Bush's Strength Is Also His Weakness 布什,在风口浪尖

  By Dante Chinni 行云 选注


  In an unsure, complicated, and scary world, George W. Bush seems a rock of certainty. You can pose a lot of different questions to him on a variety of topics ?education, the economy, terrorism ?and he'll have a solution for you, most often the simple, straightforward variety.1 In the middle of a bumpy patch, this is President Bush's electoral strength.2 There's not a lot of good news for the president in the poll3 numbers right now. Some surveys have his opponent John Kerry4 ahead. People are doubting the course in Iraq and questioning his handling of the economy. But the administration believes individual poll numbers mean little, particularly in earlier stage. And they can point to one solid finding in almost every survey: Mr. Bush is seen as a strong leader. He's decisive and knows what he wants.5

  Even his opponents concede this point. This is the president's ace as the election nears, and he's clearly counting on it.6 In ads and in interviews with supporters, it is the message the White House is pushing. This is not a small point. There's something to be said for certainty and clarity of purpose. After all, leader of the free world isn't exactly a Magic 8-Ball kind of job.7 It helps to have some idea of what exactly you want to do when you get the keys to the Oval Office8.

  And the president has seldom wavered9. If the question has to do with the economy, the answer is almost certainly tax cuts. On public education, a question that has bedeviled this country for years, the president believes in testing to measure results and then forcing changes in failing schools.10 On the "war on terror", the president has shown he will use force, going it alone if necessary, to remove harmful elements.11 Yet, Bush's image as a "strong leader" may miss the point. The real question voters face this November is not whether Mr. Bush is decisive, rather it is whether his decisiveness and single-minded approach to problems misses important subtleties.12

  The White House likes to portray the president as the can-do CEO of a large efficient corporation or as a plain-spoken cowboy trying to bring a little common sense to a double-talking town.13 The best metaphor, however, is more 21st century. What we have in Washington today is the nation's first digital presidency with Bush as our CPU (central processing unit) in chief.14 And that presents real perils for his reelection and his presidency. Like all computers, the president moves quickly and crisply, but the very thing that allows him to move so fast, a preprogrammed set of assumptions15 on most issues, can lead (and has led) to poor choices. This administration sees the world in binary code (good/evil, right/wrong).16 A series of if/then statements determines the course of action. And once the decision has been made, there's no questioning it. Examples abound.17

  If we cut taxes, then the economy will improve. This is a fact in the president's mind. You say the evidence hasn't borne this out so far? You say the cuts have led to massive deficits? That's irrelevant. Don't you know the if/then sequence?18 If we make schools accountable, then they'll fix their problems. This is obviously true, because it's true in business, the Education secretary has said. You believe there is a fundamental difference between what the schools do and what, say, Ford does? You think there are a bunch of ingrained societal problems that drag some schools down?19 You simply don't understand.

  But the most glaring mistake so far, and the one getting the most attention now, is Iraq. If we invade Iraq and remove Saddam Hussein, then we will be embraced as liberators and able to establish a democracy there. The simplicity here is breathtaking. It is as though no one at the White House ever considered the possibility that the Iraqis may hate Hussein and still not love the US.20 Now, faced with revolts21 around Iraq, the administration says not to worry, because it's just a small minority and most of the Iraqis like what the US is doing there. Maybe, but do they like the US plan for the future and are they willing to fight for it? Are they really ready for a democracy? Are they really ready for us to turn over power at last? And to whom will we turn it over, exactly? Somewhere at the White House there probably are clear, strong

  -leader, if/then answers to those questions. At some point, the administration may even share them. When you hear them, listen carefully, simple, definitive answers can be comforting ?but in a complicated world, they often don't compute22. If they don't compute by November, voters will be looking to reboot the political system ?and the president, strong leader and all, will likely find himself booted from office.23-

  1. 你可以向他提出各方面的问题,如教育、经济、恐怖主义等,他都能给你个答案,而且通常是简单直接的那种。pose:提出(问题、声明等);a variety of:各种各样的,后一个variety是“种类”的意思。

  2. 在这段困难重重的时期当中,这就是布什总统的竞选优势。bumpy:困难重重的;patch:<主英>期间,一段时间。

  3. poll:民意测验。

  4. John Kerry:约翰·克里,美国民主党总统候选人,来自马萨诸塞州,为布什的主要竞争对手。

  5. 他们可以强调一个几乎所有调查得出的可靠结果——布什先生被视为一位强有力的领导者。他坚定果决,知道自己想要什么。

  6. 就连他的对手们也不得不承认这一点。在大选来临之际这成了总统(布什)手里的“王牌”,显然他也指望着它(能帮自己争得胜利)。concede:(不情愿地)承认,承认……为真(或正确);ace:A纸牌(在多数牌戏中常作赢牌使用)。

  7. 这一点非同小可。坚决果断、目的明确(的这种素质)值得特别提一下,毕竟,自由世界领导人(的职责)并非只是回答“是”或“不是”那么简单。Magic 8-Ball:一种玩具,玩家提出一个问题,然后转动小球得到答案,其设定的答案通常都较简单,如yes / no类。

  8. Oval Office:(美国白宫的)椭圆形办公室,即总统办公室。

  9. waver:举棋不定,犹豫不决。

  10. 在公共教育这一困扰美国多年的问题上,总统认为要通过检查来衡量各个学校的成效,继而对不合格学校进行强制改革。bedevil:使困惑,使受挫。

  11. 在“反恐战争”问题上,总统已经表明他将动用武力铲除邪恶势力,如果必要不惜单干。此处going it alone指在没有得到国际社会广泛支持的情况下采取行动。

  12. 11月大选中选民面对的真正问题不在于布什先生果断与否,而是他那种坚定果断、一意孤行的办事方法是否忽视了某些重要的微妙之处。November:指代美国大选(美国大选通常在当年的11月的第二个星期二进行,故有用November或Tuesday指代美国大选的用法);subtlety:微妙(之处),奥妙(之处)。

  13. 白宫喜欢将总统描绘成一家高效的大公司里富有干劲的首席执行官,或是一个说话直率的牛仔,力图给空话连篇的城镇带来一点常识。can-do:干劲十足的;double-talking:含糊其词的,讲空话的。

  14. 然而,最好的比喻是更有21世纪特点的。今天华盛顿拥有的是第一个数字总统内阁,布什是我们总的中央处理器。metaphor:比喻,隐喻;presidency: <美>(包括各行政,决策部门的)总统直属机构。(此处将布什政府比作计算机,以下几段均使用计算机语言,用以形象地说明该政府处理问题的方式过于程序化。)

  15. a preprogrammed set of assumptions:一整套预编的假设。

  16. 这个政府用二进制代码(好/坏,对/错)来看待世界。binary: 二进制的,只能两择其一的,此处是比喻,指布什政府简单地划分世界。

  17. 一连串的如果/那么的表述决定了行动的进程。决定一经做出就不容质疑。这样的例子比比皆是。

  18. 你说迄今为止并没有证据证明这一点?你说减税导致了巨额赤字?那都无关紧要。你难道不知道如果/那么序列吗? bear out:证实(报道或某人的话等)。

  19. 你认为是一大堆根深蒂固的社会问题令一些学校停滞不前?drag down: 使社会地位(或道德水平)下降。

  20. 这种简单令人震惊。仿佛白宫里从来没人想到伊拉克人可能在憎恨萨达姆的同时也不喜欢美国人。

  21. revolt:反抗,起义。

  22. compute:计算,估量(出结果),这里指起作用。

  23. 如果在11月大选前这些既定的答案没能奏效,那么选民们将寻求“重启”政治系统,而总统无论再强硬还是怎么着也可能会被赶出白宫。reboot:原指“重新启动,将某计算机关掉而后再打开”,此处指“选出新政府”;and all:<口>以及其他一切,等等;boot:<口>赶出,撵走。

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