But there have also been gaffes on more serious matters. ABC found that campaigning in Rush Limbaugh's hometown of Cape Girardeau, Mo., Obama argued that our military's Arabic translators in Iraq are needed in Afghanistan: "We only have a certain number of them and if they are all in Iraq, then it's harder for us to use them in Afghanistan," he claimed. But Afghans don't speak Arabic; they speak several other languages. That's a lot like McCain's gaffe -- except for the degree of media attention, which in the Democrat's case was virtually nonexistent.
McCain also would have enjoyed more media focus on Obama's completely muddled analysis of South America last week. He told the Orlando Sentinel on Thursday that he would meet with Chavez to discuss "the fermentation of anti-American sentiment in Latin America, his support of FARC in Colombia and other issues he would want to talk about." But on Friday in Miami, he insisted any country supporting the Marxist guerrillas of FARC should suffer "regional isolation." This left Obama advisers scrambling to suggest that these two opposing statements can somehow be put together, that he can meet Chavez and isolate him at the same time.
Sometimes, Obama invents Bosnia-sniper-style whoppers about his personal history. In Selma, Ala., Obama claimed that the spirit of hope derived from the civil rights protests in Selma in 1965 inspired his birth -- when he was born in 1961. He also has inaccurately claimed that the Kennedys funded his Kenyan father's trip to America in 1959.
While he was making boo-boos in New Mexico on Memorial Day, Obama also (according to CBS reporter/blogger Maria Gavrilovic) talked about post-traumatic stress disorder by claiming he had an uncle "who was part of the American brigade that helped to liberate Auschwitz," and then came home and spent six months in an attic. Gavrilovic didn't note that the prisoners at Auschwitz were liberated by the Red Army. Obama earlier made the claim on his campaign site that his grandfather knew American troops who liberated Auschwitz and Treblinka (also liberated by the Red Army).
Everyone should grant these candidates a little room for error in the long slog of presidential campaigning. But what about some balance? The same national media that turned Dan Quayle's name into an instant joke are now working over time to present Obama as Captain Competent.