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The Season of Gaffes

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of


This presidential campaign cycle can be measured by gaffes. They are becoming a way of marking time. Something could be said to have happened “between the Holocaust survivor phone calls in Florida and ‘I’m not worried about the very poor.’”
Obama senior advisor David Plouffe went on the air this weekend and, rather than actually answering the question put to him about specific remarks from Newt Gingrich about the President’s using the murder of a teenager for political gain, simply did what he was more comfortable doing: name calling. Plouffe, with the arrogant sneer that has become so characteristic of this administration, and of the Democratic Party, compared the GOP primary race to a "clown show." 
The real story is not the frequency of gaffes, but what now constitutes one. Dan Quayle not being able to spell tomato, something that had almost nothing to do with his political beliefs or qualifications to break tie-votes in the Senate, was a generous gift to the Left. No doubt, they’re still snickering about it at their lavish campaign fundraisers for Class Warfare, Incorporated. It was not a proud moment, but since, in most industries, one rarely must spell tomato, it was ultimately inconsequential.
Fast-forward to 2012 and suddenly it’s a gaffe simply to be rich. Mitt Romney said that his wife drives multiple Cadillacs while campaigning in Michigan, and this was said to be somehow obtuse, or out of touch with the common man. The man is worth hundreds of millions of dollars, multiple homes, and somehow it shocks people that his wife has more than one car?
It’s an example of the manufactured gaffe, the non-mistake that, when told to the innocent, bystanding public with the appropriate suspicion and Plouffian snobbery, takes on a sinister appearance. Mitt Romney’s crime—and we’re going to be told this thousands more times before Romney beats Obama in November—is that he is rich. But we know that Obama is a “warrior for the middle class:” he’s an Ivy League-educated millionaire who made most of his wealth off of two books he wrote about himself. All Romney did was grease the wheels of the American economy. All he did was get rich the same way Warren Buffet did, but it wasn’t greedy when Warren did it, because he’s a liberal, and wants to raise your taxes.
Senator Santorum’s outburst this past weekend is another manufactured gaffe. Santorum’s words really were being twisted, and not innocently, by the Paper of Record, by the Smartest Newspaper In The World, a newspaper so smart that when you read it online, you can click on words you don’t understand and it will tell you the definition!  And who could forget that it is based in the most cultured, greatest city in the country. Santorum’s use of profanity is indeed beneath him, but no one who actually listened to the speech could deny the accuracy of his description of the question.
Ah, but the real gaffe was what came afterward, you say. Santorum joked, “You’re not a real Republican,” until you’ve sworn at a New York Times reporter. It’s a funny line, and indeed, nearly all of us swear about New York Times reporters.
Notice how much more attention such a faux-pas gets compared to some of the downright destructive words and actions of the Democrats, such as the president’s cryptic message to Medvedev that after his re-election he would have “more flexibility.” What exactly does that mean? And why was this mumbled at such a time and place? Surely Obama wanted to be overheard—he surely had plenty of other opportunities to communicate that mysterious sentence to Medvedev to “transmit to Vladimir.”
The President must explain what he meant. Why let us overhear it and not tell us straight out what he was talking about? If he wants us to re-elect him, I would hope that he would tell us what he is actually going to do, in what ways he is going to be “more flexible,” in such a case.
My point is that the media should focus more on, say, the North Koreans’ testing long-range missiles, and less on trivia like who got stage fright at the beauty contest called electoral politics. We have real problems, real crises. Transmit that instead.


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