The Emperor's New Brain

Policy made plain.
Oct. 24 2000 3:00 AM

The Emperor's New Brain

George W. and the stupidity issue.

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When he says that local control of schools is vital, criticizes his opponent for wanting to "federalize" education, promises as president to impose various requirements on schools, complains that federal money comes with too many "strings," calls for after-school funds to be used for "character education," endorses a federal law forbidding state lawsuits against teachers, and so on, does he have a path through this maze of contradictions? When he promises a federal school voucher program and then deflects criticism by saying "vouchers are up to states," is he being dense or diabolically clever?

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In short, does George W. Bush mean what he says, or does he understand it? The answer can't be both. And is both too much to ask for? 

Michael Kinsley is a columnist for the Washington Post and the founding editor of Slate.

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