From Jim Gilliam's blog archives
George W. Bush is developing Alzheimer's

October 12, 2004 11:20 PM

According to Dr. Joseph M. Price in a letter responding to James Fallows' Atlantic article about Bush's faltering speech in the last 10 years the only explanation is "presenile dementia." Bush used to be perfectly articulate just 10 years ago... now, not so much.

Presentile dementia is best described to nonmedical persons as a fairly typical Alzheimer's situation that develops significantly earlier in life, well before what is usally considered old age. It runs about the same course as typical senile dementias, such as classical Alzheimer's -- to incapacitation and, eventually, death, as with President Ronald Reagan, but at a relatively earlier age, President Bush's "mangled" words are a demonstration of what physicians call "confabulation," and are almost specific to the diagnosis of a true dementia. Bush should immediately be given the advantage of a considered professional diagnosis, and started on drugs that offer the possibility of retarding the slow but inexorable course of the disease.

Judge for yourself. Here's a Quicktime comparing Bush in his 1994 debate, and the first 2004 debate.

More from the archive in Bush, Health.

George W. Bush is developing Alzheimer's (10.12.2004)

Next Entry: Just how undecided are you? (10.13.2004)
Previous Entry: Voter registration fraud in Vegas (10.12.2004)

Read the 7 comments.


Actually I was wondering the same thing. As far as I know he has made all medical records public (or has he?).

But if Kerry gets elected he'll be cured in the next four years anyway.

Wed Oct 13 2004 6:15 AM

Tom from Madison:

I doubt the decline in verbal performance is medically related. I think W had an extreme western makeover. Daddy's New England roots don't have the Red State appeal that W's drawl has.

Over the years the President's Texas accent has gotten thicker and his speech slower. Maybe he doesn't want people to know he was born in New Haven, Connecticut. It's also convenient when asked a tough question in a press conference or debate. It buys time to think and it cultivates a self-deprecating quality that makes some people want to trust him.

When he finally speaks, the President need only repeat a few catch phrases or cite a disconnected factoid or two. His handlers and the right-wing chorus of Fox and talk-radio can then explain what he meant to say. It's an effective way of getting other people to make his points for him.

As a PR strategy this is brilliant. However a lot of BIG QUESTIONS never seem to get anwered. Examples: When will we ever reduce the budget deficit? What, if anything, will the president do to about 45 million Americans with no health insurance? How will we know if we've won the war on terror?

Wed Oct 13 2004 7:27 AM

Right Wing Robby:

If John Kerry gets elected he will be cured and paralyzed people will get up and walk all over the country.

Wed Oct 13 2004 8:18 AM

raging red:

It's more than just a thicker Texas drawl (watch the video). During the 94 debate, Bush spoke very quickly (still with a Texas drawl) and managed to convey a lot of information, including numbers. Contrast that to the first 2004 debate, when Bush took very long pauses and struggled to fill up the allotted time.

My late grandfather was an alcoholic, and he ended up with severe dementia toward the end of his life. (He was 84 when he died.) He had been an incredibly intelligent physician, but the heavy drinking caused permanent brain damage that manifested itself when he got older. I don't know if that's what is happening to Bush, but I've heard it mentioned as a possibility ("dry-drunk syndrome").

As for Bush's medical records, he failed to get his annual physical this year, for still unexplained reasons.

Wed Oct 13 2004 8:50 AM


It has been made clear in the past I am a Bush supporter (against Kerry anyway), but I do wonder about the pauses in his speech. It was extremely bad in the first debate when it was widely acknowledged he had spent the day touring hurricane ravaged Florida instead of resting & preparing for the debate.

I do question the Alzheimer's claim, due to the lack of family history and his quick fades and recoveries. To be honest it more closely resembles epilepsy, which is aggravated by lack of sleep. The suddenness of the loss for words then the immediate recovery looks more like myoclonic episodes (partial seizures) that usually accompany other Parkinson like physical charactoristics - but not always. The reason I bring up myoclonic seizures is during this election I have not seen a single "action" shot of Bush (unlike Kerry playing football, wind surfing ect, ect). Four years ago he threw a perfect strike in the during the opening of baseball season - no photo ops like that have presented themselves either. About the only thing heard of (not witnessed) is when he crashed his mountain bike. Anybody seen anything about his jogging regiment that reporters used to hate so much?

Wed Oct 13 2004 9:26 AM


While we are throwing out wacky theories...

Maybe life imitates art and the president has MS. Maybe he was not wearing a receiver pack during the debates but he wears a back brace.

told you it was wacky.

Wed Oct 13 2004 10:27 AM

JP Johnson:

I watched him closely in the third debate. When he was listening to Kerry he was blinking continuously, like 1/sec for like 10 secs at a time. What is up with this?

Thu Oct 14 2004 10:22 AM

Jim Gilliam
Jim Gilliam


Add to My Yahoo!

Last week's soundtrack:

jgilliam's Weekly Artists Chart