Gaffe-Prone…Obama?

Tuesday, May 27th, 2008

John Hinderaker (the guy who wrote this embarrassing love letter to President Bush) calls Barack Obama “the most gaffe-prone politician in memory.”

You gotta’ be kidding me. Frankly, I’m not really even sure the latest Obama gaffe is really a gaffe. Grammatically awkward, maybe. But it’s pretty clear that he’s referring back to “heroes,” not “fallen heroes.” His mistake seems to have been to use the word “them” instead of “heroes” in the second part of the quote. Of course, can’t a wounded veteran be a “fallen hero,” too? And I’m sure there were some wounded veterans in the crowd. In other words, this is a far cry from “putting food on your children.”

The other gaffe
the righty blogosphere’s jumping on is Obama’s statement that his uncle helped liberate Auschwitz. As it turns out, it was his great uncle, and it was Buchenwald. Again, this isn’t even cringe-worthy, much less dishonest. These are really pretty pathetic criticisms.

It is sorta’ cute, though, to watch the right-wingers and longtime defenders of President Bush attack Obama for—of all things—his inability to speak articulately. The choreographed way in which several high-profile right-wing blogs picked up the gaffe meme strongly suggests hat there’s already a coordinated effort afoot to push a narrative, here. “Barack’s a doofus!”  (You may remember similar memes, such as “Al Gore invented the Internet!” and “John Kerry’s a Flip-Flopper!)

I know. The lack of self-awareness is mind-boggling. But I think it’s calculated. This is a page right out of the Rovian playbook. Project your onto your opponents your own biggest weaknesses. So the Bush campaign ducks the National Guard issue by calling John Kerry a coward. Draft-dodging Saxby Chambliss attacks Max “I Left Three Limbs on the Battlefield” Cleland’s patriotism. It’s brilliant, really. Your opponents are so taken aback at the sheer audacity (sorry, it’s the only word that fits, here) of the charge, they stagger, nonplussed. Then of course, you pounce.

Hence, the spectacle of a Bush sycophant like John Hinderaker taking aim at Barack Obama’s eloquence.

These sorts of stories are useful, though. And I’m sure we’ll see similar stories emerge from the left about McCain. The come out in every campaign. They’re useful in that they let us see which bloggers and pundits are serious people with any semblance of intellectual honesty, and which are knee-jerk party hacks.

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29 Responses to “Gaffe-Prone…Obama?”

  1. #1 |  Patrick A. | 

    I’m beginning to think you are leaning toward supporting “Change!”, Radley. It may not be a big league gaffe, but he (and the Dems) deserve all that comes their way. Do you honestly think the gaffes Dems have attacked in the past were all said out of ignorance rather than being words misspoken?

    I’m not cheering for either team since moral grounds do not allow me to vote. That said, let ‘em squirm.
    Karma and all that.

  2. #2 |  Michael Chaney | 

    Radley, please don’t use the word “Rovian”, that word is used pretty exclusively by moonbats.

    And, one other thing, I was watching the interview when Al Gore claimed to invent the internet. I nearly did a spit-take, I had just taken a drink and nearly lost it. He *did* say that. Exact quote: “During my service in the United States Congress, I took the initiative in creating the Internet.” Note that one cannot “take” a congressional initiative; one can “support” or even “start” such an initiative. His phrasing can suggest only that he personally did it. Whether it was a gaffe or not is up to the reader, but he did say it.

    But back to your point: isn’t the whole “bush is an idiot” something being pushed by the left ad nauseam? Hasn’t something to that effect been google-bombed?

  3. #3 |  Jonathan Hohensee | 

    The only gaffe I can think of that really got to me is Obama’s “bitter” comments, which was insulting and awful.
    I think the worse part of hearing a pundit nitpick over a candidate is the self righteous whining when the other side nitpicks their own candidate.

  4. #4 |  Radley Balko | 

    please don’t use the word “Rovian”, that word is used pretty exclusively by moonbats.

    Meh. I’m not going to abstain from a word just because of who else uses it. For example, I might counter that the word “moonbat” is generally used by right-wing knuckle-draggers. See how it works?

    As for the Gore/Internet thing, well, in context, his quote made a bit more sense. Even the “father of the Internet” has defended Gore on this point:

    http://www.snopes.com/quotes/internet.asp

    Besides, my point is that it was a non-issue. Did it really have anything to do with how Al Gore would govern? I say this as someone who voted for Bush in 2000.

    But back to your point: isn’t the whole “bush is an idiot” something being pushed by the left ad nauseam?

    Yes, though not without some help from Bush himself. I don’t think he’s all that dumb. I do think he has no intellectual curiosity whatsoever, which is probably quite a bit worse.

  5. #5 |  Scott | 

    The media, the electorate and, more importantly, partisans have decided that these things are absolutely valid fodder to use against a candidate. I’m not a Bush supporter but the left has taken such glee from “Bush-isms” over the last 8 years that it’s almost refreshing to see the Dem candidates held to a similar standard. Especially in view of how obtuse some of the recent statements have been… “they cling to their guns and religion”, “I never called for talks with Iran without preconditions”, 57 states, etc. Obama may be an otherwise very inspirational speaker but his repeated ability to step on his own dick is telling and worth every bit of mockery. Even it’s from right-wing sycophants.

  6. #6 |  old | 

    They’re useful in that they let us see which bloggers and pundits are serious people with any semblance of intellectual honesty, and which are knee-jerk party hacks.

    This would be a good list to keep. I have read very few bloggers, and pundits who are serious people. Hell, the sports blogs I read are better writers and honest than political blogs I stumble upon. I rarely seek the political blogs out anymore, due to the idiocy. Sadly No! can be pretty funny though, but they are not serious people, and don’t have any intention to be serious people.

    Also, anybody who says this word is only used by that type of person can’t be a serious person. That must be a joke, right?

  7. #7 |  Tokin42 | 

    #6

    I disagree. Anytime I hear a person use the term “chicken hawk” I automatically stop listening because I know the person is either an idiot or a hack.

  8. #8 |  Richard | 

    “Even the “father of the Internet” has defended Gore on this point:”

    The ‘father of the Internet’ is a long-time party hack. Take a look at opensecrets. The snopes is likewise filled with hackery. The defense depends on the absurdity that it makes a difference whether Gore used the word ‘invent’ or ‘create.’

    The bottom line is Al Gore voted for some funding for the Internet. He co-sponsored a bill. That’s hardly creation or invention. He was taking credit for something that for which he had not right to take credit. He could have said he was an early supporter of the Internet. But then again, did he ever meet a government spending program that he didn’t support?

  9. #9 |  Sam | 

    Radley, you cited one of Powerline’s embarrassing love letters to Bush. But not the most embarrassing one. That of course, is:

    http://powerlineblog.com/archives/011183.php

    “It must be very strange to be President Bush. A man of extraordinary vision and brilliance approaching to genius, he can’t get anyone to notice.”

  10. #10 |  Lee | 

    “I’m not a Bush supporter but the left has taken such glee from “Bush-isms” over the last 8 years….”

    Actually I think the glee from the Bushisms only lasted a couple of years at most. Now it’s mostly embarassing.

    Also, I think the term chicken-hawk is great. The entertainment value of the anger it elicits from said chicken-hawks is always worth the price of admission.

  11. #11 |  Paul L. | 

    I think the term chicken-hawk is great. The entertainment value of the anger it elicits from said chicken-hawks is always worth the price of admission.
    It is amazing how many who use the “chicken-hawk” term never served themselves.
    More amusing is the goal post moving by those who use the term “chicken-hawk”.
    If the person is a veteran.
    “Why aren’t you serving now to support your illegal war in Iraq”
    If the person is currently serving.
    “Why aren’t you serving in Iraq”

    Can we use the same “chicken-hawk” logic to say if you never served in Law Enforcement you can not criticize them?

    BTW, Max “I Left Three Limbs on the Battlefield” Cleland did not lose his limbs on the battlefield or combat but in a accident.

    On April 8, 1968, then-Capt. Max Cleland picked-up a “hair-triggered” grenade that another soldier dropped on a helicopter tarmac in Vietnam after returning from a combat mission. The grenade exploded after Capt. Cleland picked it up. Capt. Cleland lost two legs and an arm in the explosion.

  12. #12 |  Chance | 

    You see, our men and women in uniform are only heroes as long as they agree with the chicken hawks. As soon as they say anything against the party line their time, wounds, and service don’t reaally count (wasn’t reaally combat you see).

  13. #13 |  Zeb | 

    I would like to hear a candidate really be honest some day and say something like: “I am full of shit, my opponents in this race are all full of shit and every serious candidate for president you have ever seen as been full of shit. We will say whatever is necessary to get elected, we will pander to special interests that we don’t really care about to get votes and we will say whatever is necessary to make a positive impression on whatever group of people we happen to be talking to at the time. Sorry, but that’s how it works. If I wasn’t completely full of shit, I would never have the opportunity to be standing here now, telling you all some things that I think you want to hear.”

  14. #14 |  Lee | 

    “It is amazing how many who use the “chicken-hawk” term never served themselves.”

    The use of the term is to point out that those cheering on/supprting the Iraq war have never served or are not serving. If they are not cheering on/supporting the Iraq war, then chicken-hawk would not apply even if they did serve.

    I am not one of those (USMC 84-92).

  15. #15 |  Howlin' Hobbit | 

    Long before it entered the political lexicon the term “chicken hawk” referred to an older gay man who liked really young men.

    I wonder if Freud’s in there anywhere.

  16. #16 |  Kevin B. O'Reilly | 

    [Warning: Punctuation police] Radley, I’m not sure why you insist on putting apostrophes after slangy contractions such as GOTTA’ and SORTA’ above. An apostrophe helps the reader understand that two words have been contracted and letters have been dropped out, such as in the words CAN’T or WON’T. Neither is the case with GOTTA or SORTA, so you can safely leave the apostrophes out.

  17. #17 |  Paul L. | 

    The use of the term is to point out that those cheering on/supprting the Iraq war have never served or are not serving. If they are not cheering on/supporting the Iraq war, then chicken-hawk would not apply even if they did serve.

    From your definition I am a “chicken hawk” despite my service (USN 85-91).
    Does “chicken hawk” definition include those who supported the Kosovo/Afghanistan but did not serve in either?

  18. #18 |  Lee | 

    No

    My bad

    or != and

  19. #19 |  James D | 

    Thanks Paul L for pointing out the ridiculousless of the ‘chicken hawk’ term.

    I’d also call BS on the point of this post Radley: When Bush ‘gaffes’ it’s because he speaks like an idiot (“So OBGYNs can make their love”, etc). When Gore/Clinton/Obama ‘gaffes’ it’s so they can lie and appear to be somehing they are not.

    I don’t see how you can compare the two. Both are cringe-inducing but only one is outright lying just for the sake of making yourself look better.

  20. #20 |  David | 

    I don’t regularly use the term “chickenhawk’ but I think it’s best applied to military age people who insist that things like the Iraq war are imperative for the continuation of western civilization, just not imperative enough to sign up themselves. To my thinking, if a person genuinely believes that their way of life was on the line, they’d be fighting.

    This is not to say that any support of military action needs to come from those who’ve been in the armed forces, just that the place that these guys are arguing from is disingenuous. Especially so when they react to troop shortages by implying that other military age people are cowards for not serving in the military. Or better still, when they accuse those who are opposed to military action of cowardice.

    Frankly, I have a low opinion of those who demand that others should sacrifice in the service of their own lofty goals.

  21. #21 |  Lee | 

    So Bush’s gaffe of ‘We do not torture’ was because he speaks like an idiot and not outright lying.

    Glad you cleared that up.

  22. #22 |  James D | 

    That’s because the definition of ‘torture’ depends on opinion. And Abu Ghraib wasn’t exactly ‘sanctioned’ behavior.

  23. #23 |  jwh | 

    The definition of torture is what the US does to it’s prisoners…..those who oppose us NEVER torture anyone……and their methods of execution are never inhumane, either……

  24. #24 |  old | 

    How about a discussion of the word ‘ilk,’ in my opinion that word has not appeared enough in this post. All of the above should read, those who torture and their ilk, those who would use the word rovian and their ilk, and those who would use the word chicken-hawk and their ilk. People just can’t use the word ilk enough. Especially when they get all up in arms about something. Rachel Ray and her ilk blew up a bus station in Paducah Kentucky today with jelly donuts. It was rumored the town had no Dunkin’ Donuts. Apparently the store masqueraded as a normal American store until this day.

  25. #25 |  Sean | 

    “Again, this isn’t even cringe-worthy, much less dishonest. ”

    This was clearly dishonest. How does one make a mistake that isn’t even historically possible. If the Americans had liberated Auschwitz, I might be able to agree it was a mistake, but come on. He used Auschwitz because everyone knows that name, not because he made a mistake. Even if it was a mistake, do you really what a president with that wonderful grasp of history?

  26. #26 |  David Nieporent | 

    Chambliss did not attack Cleland’s patriotism.

  27. #27 |  Karl | 

    I don’t think “audacity” is the only word which describes what the Bushonauts did to Kerry and Chambliss did to Cleland, but this is a family portal, and so the ones I have in mind I’ll keep to myself. Use your imagination. But I’ll give you a hint, a la Barbara Bush: It rhymes with full hit.

  28. #28 |  Xrlq | 

    Frankly, I’m not really even sure the latest Obama gaffe is really a gaffe. Grammatically awkward, maybe. But it’s pretty clear that he’s referring back to “heroes,” not “fallen heroes.” His mistake seems to have been to use the word “them” instead of “heroes” in the second part of the quote.

    Hardly. His real mistake was completely missing the point of Memorial Day, which is to remember the fallen heroes. We have a holiday for honoring the unfallen ones; it’s called Veteran’s Day.

    The other gaffe the righty blogosphere’s jumping on is Obama’s statement that his uncle helped liberate Auschwitz. As it turns out, it was his great uncle, and it was Buchenwald. Again, this isn’t even cringe-worthy, much less dishonest.

    For those of us who’d like a commander-in-chief to know the basics about modern history, placing his non-uncle on the eastern front of Hitler’s crumbling empire is pretty damned sad. Equally sad is confusing a relatively obscure (to Americans, anyway) slave labor camp where roughly 50 thousand died with a very well known mass extermination site where well over a million did. Mixing up one slave labor camp with another (e.g., Dachau) would have been an understandable error. Mixing up a slave labor camp where roughly 50,000 died with a mass extermination camp where well over 1 million did is not.

    It is sorta’ cute, though, to watch the right-wingers and longtime defenders of President Bush attack Obama for—of all things—his inability to speak articulately.

    Hardly. What’s “cute” is the eagerness of Bush’s detractors to ignore such gaffes after milking infinitely milder (and in some cases, fabricated) “Bushism” for the past eight years. What makes it doubly “cute” is that the guy they’re excusing now for being so inarticulate is a political neophyte who, until very recently, ran a campaign almost entirely on the fact that he supposedly was so articulate. Bush never campaigned on that, but AFAIK, he’s also never said anything nearly as dumb as the two Obama screwups you pooh-pooh (to say nothing about his seven imaginary states, at least two of which must be lodged between his home state and Kentucky).

  29. #29 |  damnum absque injuria | 

    Silly Season…

    The G.O.P. has lost both houses of Congress, and since lost three special elections in what should have been safe Republican seats, and now faces polling numbers indicating that a rabid socialist committed to defeat in the Middle East may, by repeatedl…

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