Friday, January 26, 2007

The decision-maker

So, Bush has gone from 'the decider' to the 'decision-maker', reported here. I'm pondering what this means

... in terms of morphological complexity ... from a pretty uncommon derivation in -er to a compound with the same suffix. The new form gets fewer g-hits, but who knows what his use of the former term has done to those numbers.

... in terms of meaning. Does it sound more forceful? Did he need a first variant because the old one had gotten lampooned so much? If so, why stick so close to the old one? Stubbornness?

Oh yeah, I'm pretty sure about what it means in terms of policy: Nothing at all.

Update, 4:24 p.m.: Long day at the office, but finally got home and have a chance to check in as Mrs. Verb (not her real name) mixes me a martini (as they used to say, or said once some time, in the sitcoms to bartenders: How dry? Call up another bartender who works across town and ask him to open a bottle of vermouth and hold it up to the phone). Anyways (to use that adverbial -s), looks like Bush is just taking advice from Daily Kos (yeah, right), where this was posted last year, here:
OK, clearly Bush has difficulty with English and sounds like a moron when he opens his mouth, but why exactly does "Decider" sound particularly moronic?
Any educated person would say "I'm the decision maker."

Or perhaps an educated person might say "I'm the one who makes the decision."

"Decider" is probably used more commonly to describe a "factor" that tips the balance when considering a decision. "There were 3 reasons to say yes, and 3 to say no, but the decider was X." That's colloquial, but it doesn't sound egregiously bad.
And Volokh Conspiracy had a similar post back then too. The point comes up there as well that 'decider' somehow should be decision maker. (The conclusion there seems right, by the way: "So at most, it seems to me, one would say that the usage is mildly unidiomatic, not wrong, silly, or even inadvertently funny.")

Lest we forget, the famous utterance was in the context of defending Donald Rumsfeld, and the whole quote is pretty far out there:
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.
Weird, I was thinking he mostly seemed bungling and dumb in those remarks, but the latest interviews have been more deeply disturbing. Now rereading that whole exchange almost a year later, it seems pretty loopy too.

Update, 9:45 p.m. (after a bad loss by the UW men's hockey team to the University of Minnesota-Manfreakinkato): Oh yeah, the decider/decision-maker thing is rippling around the old blogosphere, like in this example (and, man, in these times, "scotch-fueled humor" may be called for.)

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