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A Simple Suggestion For Senator Obama

Well, once again someone has come up with an explanation for another of Senator Obama's statements that, on the surface, are rank falsehoods.

A few weeks ago, Obama got himself in a bunch of unnecessary hot water when he said that his uncle had helped liberate Auschwitz. Several of his detractors, who have access to such covert, sneaky, diabolical resources such as Google and Wikipedia, immediately called bullshit, based on two absolutely indisputable facts:

1) Obama has no uncles on his mother's side;
2) Auschwitz (which is in Poland) was liberated by the Soviet Red Army.

But it turned out that Obama was not just making shit up out of whole cloth; his GREAT-uncle was apparently present at the liberation of Buchenwald.

Now Obama has done it again: speaking in Israel, Obama stated "This, this, uh, this past week we passed out of the U.S. Senate Banking Committee, which is my committee, a bill to, uh, call for divestment from Iran."

It doesn't take very long to Google up Obama's committee assignments (when he bothers to show up in DC), and the Banking Committee isn't among them. So here's a clear-cut case of Obama making up shit and taking credit for something he had nothing to do with, right?

Not quite.

If you change the word "committee" to "bill," then it actually makes sense: Obama was a sponsor (along with Representatives Barney Frank (D-MA) and the late Tom Lantos (D-CA) of the bill that the Banking Committee passed recently.

So we have two examples of Obama making some very simple, very common, very understandable verbal slips that convert what he wanted to say into absolute, verifiable, complete falsehoods.

No grand conspiracy, no out-and-out lying, no making stuff up, just simple verbal stumbles.

The problem is, verbal gaffes are becoming a major currency of the current election season. Every time McCain talks about the "Iraq-Afghanistan border" or confuses (and then corrects himself) Sunnis and Shi'ites, it's touted by his detractors as yet another symptom of his senility and unfitness for office. And that usually prompts a bunch of counter-citations of similar gaffes by Obama, who -- being 25 years younger -- must be suffering an incredibly premature onset of Alzheimer's.

So, here's my suggestion for both candidates: JUST GET THE SHIT RIGHT THE FIRST TIME.

McCain, at least, seems occasionally amenable to being corrected and accepting his mistakes. Obama, on the other hand, goes to tremendous lengths to rationalize and justify and defend his blunders, even on occasion inventing whole new words to explain away his statements (we're going to have to add "inartful" to the next edition of dictionaries).

Also, Obama tends to mess up details that ought to have a great deal of personal resonance to him. Just who his relatives are and what they did, what committees he's on, even the geography of the state he represents in the Senate. (He once said that Arkansas is closer to Kentucky than Illinois, when Illinois and Kentucky share a border, while Missouri and Tennessee keep Kentucky and Arkansas from meeting.)

Running for president is exhausting. It's not for the frail of health. It's long months of long weeks of long days of long hours. With that kind of pace, verbal slips and stumbles are to be expected. Hell, it would be nothing less than miraculous if these two men went a week or two without some glaring gaffes.

It is the nature of the gaffes -- and the way they handle them -- that are the most telling. As I said, McCain accepts them, corrects himself, and moves on. Obama (or, more often, his surrogates) twist and spin and rationalize to show that it wasn't a mistake -- or, at least, a mistake on the part of the listener, not Obama himself.

And it's the gaffes on Obama's own life, own experiences, that make me wonder just how well the man knows himself.


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Comments (26)

The Left has put a lot of w... (Below threshold)
jpm100:

The Left has put a lot of weight into how negatively verbal slips reflect on the speaker to inflate their criticisms against Bush for it.

Having the messiah make the same blunders might break the illusion both ways.

It won't bread the illusion... (Below threshold)
WildWillie:

It won't bread the illusion to the left. They started demonizing and deminishing GW Bush from his first day in office. It is in the lefts handbook. Reagan-Senile, second rate actor, First Bush-a wimp, privilidged citizen, GW Bush-Drunk, stupid, liar, etc. When you realize that leftists are adults who still think like juveniles, then you are not surprised.

To the Post: McCain is handling it the way it should be handled. Laugh at yourself and move on. ww

Blame it on too long of a c... (Below threshold)

Blame it on too long of a campaign. Having to give too many speeches. Having to do too many interviews. At some point all of the candidates will misspeak for themselves without enough sleep, etc.

Only in the U.S. is the campaign for the presidency a year long marathon event that tires out both the candidates and the voters. In most Western nations, elections are held in a few weeks at the longest, not a full calendar year like here. This is crazy stuff.

Just because you're not fam... (Below threshold)
Boyd Author Profile Page:

Just because you're not familiar with a word doesn't mean it doesn't exist, Jay. Why don't you ask Eugene Volokh if he's ever heard of "inartful."

Hooson, that would be accep... (Below threshold)

Hooson, that would be acceptable IF it was applied to both candidates. If you have the slightest bit of intellectual integrity, you'll acknowledge that McCain's blunders are being attributed to his age, while Obama's are mostly ignored (except by us crazy right-wingers).

When the standard is applied in a manner that is REMOTELY balanced on both candidates, I'll cut Obama some slack.

J.

Jeez. Is Obama paying Wizba... (Below threshold)
bryanD:

Jeez. Is Obama paying Wizbang to chew the cud? There wasn't much nutrition in the Auschwitz story the first time we tasted it. No offense to "someone".

The following is my favorite anti-Obama article so far. Of course, the Republicans might feel they can't use it due to its blowback potential, but since nominal Republicans are keen to call themselves "independents" in the wake of Bush, why not? A vote gotten for Nader or the Greens is a vote for Juan McCain to rescue the Bush legacy by going into overtime until 2012.

http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=9270

Boyd, old chum, I gotta ask... (Below threshold)

Boyd, old chum, I gotta ask you this question: "because lawyers do it" is a LOUSY standard of whether something's correct. I included a link to a dictionary that says it ain't a word. (Yes, irony intended.)

And BryanD, do you recognize the irony of you citing a Canadian web site (that's what the ".ca" means) to comment on the US election? Further, the whole point of my comments were to point out how stupid the original Auschwitz thing was -- and how Obama could have avoided the whole thing by NOT FUCKING UP WHAT HE HIMSELF SAID IN THE FIRST PLACE.

And people think George W. Bush needs a full-time interpreter...

J.

Hello, Jay. I think there's... (Below threshold)

Hello, Jay. I think there's a natural tendency to blame any mistake that some older person does on their age, that doesn't just apply to Mr. McCain solely. Think about it.

Surely, I'm disappointed at some of the misstatements of Mr. Obama as well. But I suppose how his great Uncle was a distant relative rather than a closer relative, there was enough room to get some facts wrong on this part of family history.

One of my close relatives nearly lost his mind during WWII while working on an aircraft ground crew and the plane suddenly started up and went out of control and chewed up his ground crew with the propeller in a horrible accident. But I'm sure every family member might have their own version of the story since that relative is now dead and cannot state what actually happened, so only the general details of the story are known.

I don't have any good explanation on why Mr. Obama had his facts wrong about the committee thing. But I choose to think that he simply misspoke himself, because as you stated, he was not a member of that certain committee as your reaearch well proves.

But I also feel very sorry for the voters if this election is supposed to be decided on a few misstatements rather than a voter supporting a candidate for more sound ideological reasons. That's what bothers me about undecided voters. How can some people know so little that they cannot make up their mind which philosophy of government they more tend to side with?

But it also seems that like Mr. McCain, many of his supporters have sunk into petty arguments and fail to address the really important issues of this campaign as well. More and more, Mr. McCain reminds me of the grouchy old man neighbor of Dennis The Menace, who looks for petty things to be mad about and complain about. I'm sure some voters find this most inspirational and a great reason to vote for Mr. McCain. Yesterday, Mr. McCain's petty bitching at the German restaurant in Columbus, Ohio, while Mr. Obama mostly inspired 200,000 Germans to hold a better and more cooperative view of the U.S. was just plain pathetic. This is the best that the McCain campaign can manage as an event? Lunch at some German restaurant and then a few petty nasty comments unworthy of any real news coverage because of an utter lack of substance. But that is not to say that both candidates have not both had some really sorry moments so far, and many more are yet to come, dear voters because this campaign is way too long.

I grant you Obama may be g... (Below threshold)
Steve Crickmore:

I grant you Obama may be guilty of 'embellishment'. In one of his confessional autobiographical memoirs he admitted he changed some of the chronology for narrative or literary purposes. I thought "woe " when I read that.

Who was it who said "someone confesses in order to avoid telling the truth". But hey Obama is a politician and as I.F. Stone said the first premise of Stone's in studying politics is that "all politicians lie."(more or less like most people). Having said that, I think Obama lies or trims his argument less than most politicians.

Paul - you think this campa... (Below threshold)

Paul - you think this campaign's only been going a year?

Hillary started her drive for the Presidency very shortly after the 2004 elections - and the media played along. As far as I'm concerned, we're in an eternal campaign cycle - and it's not doing us ANY good at all.

"And it's the gaffes on Oba... (Below threshold)
Bruce:

"And it's the gaffes on Obama's own life, own experiences, that make me wonder just how well the man knows himself.?

You mean like Obama being the chairman of the $100 million Chicago Annenberg Challenge that was put together by former Weatherman and unrepentant domestic terrorist William Ayers . Isn't it odd that Obama and the media doesn't want the American people to know about this.It is a matter of record ..it even has a Wiki page. He was 33 years old and fresh out of Harvard when he was selected to be Chairman of the board. You'd think he'd be proud of this and would talk it up as being a major accomplishment of his early career. But nothing.No mention. Oh, as for gaffes during the ABC debate when we was asked about his relationship with Ayers he referred to ayers a a 'professor of English" knowing full well that he was a professor of Education. Big difference. But hey..what's one more lie when you're Barack Obama.

Boyd, old chum, I ... (Below threshold)
Anon Y. Mous:
Boyd, old chum, I gotta ask you this question: "because lawyers do it" is a LOUSY standard of whether something's correct. I included a link to a dictionary that says it ain't a word. (Yes, irony intended.)

The post that Boyd linked to was an invitation by Volokh to one of his guest bloggers, Erin McKean, a lexicographer, to answer the question:

The general question is: How do (and should) lexicographers decide whether to include a word in the dictionary?



The concrete example, contributed by Widener lawprof Ben Barros, is offered by the words "inartful" and "inartfully." Prof. Barros and I were both shocked to learn that the two words weren't in the OED or any dictionary accessible via onelook.com.

I think it would be interesting to consider her answer. Short answer: just because it's not in a dictionary, doesn't mean that it's not a word.

"And BryanD, do you recogni... (Below threshold)
bryanD:

"And BryanD, do you recognize the irony of you citing a Canadian web site (that's what the ".ca" means) to comment on the US election?"-jt

Did you know that "24" was made in Canada? Or that Kiefer Sutherland is....a CANADIAN???

"...and how Obama could have avoided the whole thing by NOT FUCKING UP WHAT HE HIMSELF SAID IN THE FIRST PLACE."-jt

Ah. the US media comfort zone of humanizing gaffe reportage interspersed with kissing up to June Cleaver while informing on The Beaver.

Paul, you tried to hide it ... (Below threshold)
WildWillie:

Paul, you tried to hide it but you still got on McCain for being an older citizen. Regardless of his abilities, his successes, his heroism, he knowledge and his ability to stand up for what he thinks is right regardless of what the party says, you some it all up to being grouchy in a German restaurant while Obama was "inspiring" 200,000 people. I would say most if not all the people were there out of curiousity. And you say people should look at the substance of what the candidates stand for? What does Obama stand for? Do I have to go to moveon.org to find out? He is not articulating his plans. Only grazing the surface. McCain on the other hand has a record to look at for leadership. So, you lefty's make fun of senior citizens, let them know they are worthless for leadership, that will only give us Florida and most of the other states. ww

Wow, Jay, you almost... (Below threshold)
Brian:

Wow, Jay, you almost wrote a piece that one would expect from an independent. Unfortunately, you had to take it one step further and... to quote you... GET THE SHIT WRONG.

or confuses (and then corrects himself) Sunnis and Shi'ites

Quite the opposite of "correcting himself", McCain made this error multiple times! Once even needing Lieberman to correct him. Using your standard, this makes your claim an "absolute, verifiable, complete falsehood".

McCain, at least, seems occasionally amenable to being corrected and accepting his mistakes. Obama, on the other hand, goes to tremendous lengths to rationalize and justify and defend his blunders

Let's see some examples of McCain accepting his mistakes. Because here's one of him asked about his Sunni/Shiite errors, and him going to tremendous lengths to rationalize and justify and defend his blunder, and provide a rambling non-answer.

Yes, McCain did a funny bit on Conan. Har har. But that no more excuses his gaffes than it would if Obama did an "early Alzheimer's" bit on SNL.

You're also showing some desperation by going back to that "uncle/great-uncle" schtick. My whole life, I called my father's uncle "uncle". If that's your example of an "absolute, verifiable, complete falsehood", then someone really pissed in your Wheaties.

Thanks for the link to Erin... (Below threshold)
Boyd Author Profile Page:

Thanks for the link to Erin's response to Eugene's post, Anon. I obviously speed-linked without paying enough attention to what was really important.

Oh, and Jay? :p

I like how this website is ... (Below threshold)
jp2:

I like how this website is pretty much their own characterization of Obama - all flash, no substance. (For goodness sakes, they are citing the Enquirer now)

If Obama based his campaign (or based ANYTHING) on him being on the banking committee or his uncle or on the fact that there are 57 states...then I could see a point, though a small one.

However, McCain has banked his campaign - probably 90% of his entire campaign - on the surge. And he doesn't even know the basic history of the surge. He doesn't even know the who, what, when, where, why. The past few weeks have shown how poor his knowledge is - multiple mistakes.

That's not a "gaffe." That's a serious lack of knowledge. And it's not his age, it's the fact that he is a political hack who when trying to prove a point, just looks confused.

"However, McCain has banked... (Below threshold)
Bruce:

"However, McCain has banked his campaign - probably 90% of his entire campaign - on the surge. And he doesn't even know the basic history of the surge. He doesn't even know the who, what, when, where, why. The past few weeks have shown how poor his knowledge is - multiple mistakes."

Ok genius ...I'll bite..what the hell are you talking about?..he was for the surge all along and before many of his fellow republicans..it was very unpopular at the time but he stood his ground..give some examples of how he doesn't know what he's talking about..atleast then there can be debate..my guess is you just another mindless liberal throwing flames and hoping no one takes you up on it..

come on..bring it on..educate us

be more specific

"President Obama - the Supr... (Below threshold)

"President Obama - the Supreme Leader of Dontgiveastan is on the phone - he's threatening war if we don't give his country massive quantities of cloth, pins, buttons and needles in trade. We have considerable amounts for trade, but the buttons date back to the '50s. They might not be the style they're looking for."

"Well, after due consideration, I think we should push the buttons."

"What was that, Mr. President?"

"What wasn't clear? Give them what they want, and push the buttons."

"Uh, are you saying we should push the button, Mr. President?"

"Yes, they want it so badly, let's give them what they want."

One small war later:

---------

Ah hell. Haven't got a funny ending for this one... somehow, the idea of a President who constantly has to make himself clear just isn't amusing at all.

Ok genius ...I'll bite..... (Below threshold)
Brian:

Ok genius ...I'll bite..what the hell are you talking about?....give some examples of how he doesn't know what he's talking about..come on..bring it on..educate us

That should be "educate me", since apparently you're the only one who doesn't know McCain's error. Even Rove conceeds McCain was wrong.

Yesterday, Mr. McC... (Below threshold)
OhioVoter:
Yesterday, Mr. McCain's petty bitching at the German restaurant in Columbus, Ohio, while Mr. Obama mostly inspired 200,000 Germans to hold a better and more cooperative view of the U.S. was just plain pathetic.

Let me get this straight, Paul.

In addition to you non-stop attempts to paint all people in their 70's as senile, grouchy, and cranky by definition, you now think that we Ohioans aren't bright enough to see McCain's remarks in Columbus for what they were - not "petty bitching" but criticism of a campaign opponent much like Obama's comments criticizing McCain? Were Obama's comments about McCain "petty bitching" as well or do those words only apply if the person saying them are over a certain age?

As a campaign strategy, alienating all people over the age of 69 AND the citizens of a potential battleground state may not be your best choice. :-D

As to Obama's speech .... wasn't he just lecturing Americans on the need to speak foreign languages when we visit foreign lands as a matter of respect to those people. (I could be wrong. He lectures us on so many different issues that it is hard to keep them straight.)

Are you claiming that Obama suddenly became proficient in German, that all 200,000 Germans in attendance suddenly became proficient in English or that merely being Obama's presence caused the "give of tongues" to allow them to completely understand comments made in a foreing language and to be lifted to the heights of inspiration as a result?

I love the way Brian uses t... (Below threshold)
Bruce:

I love the way Brian uses the Huffington Post and Think Progress to prove his point..Ok..my turn..here's from the always right-wing(:)) Washington Post in it's editorial on Obama's PR stunt in Iraq:

Other Iraqi leaders were more directly critical. As Mr. Obama acknowledged, Sunni leaders in Anbar province told him that American troops are essential to maintaining the peace among Iraq's rival sects and said they were worried about a rapid drawdown.

in other words the Awakening would never have taken hold without the surge..but hey..what do the sheiks behind the Awakening know..it's obvious to me that some far-left progressive living the comfortable life in America know more

way to go Brian

come on..more lies..bring 'em on

I love the way Brian use... (Below threshold)
Brian:

I love the way Brian uses the Huffington Post and Think Progress to prove his point.

Umm, did you even bother to follow those links, or do you just base your conclusions on URLs? Those articles cited CBS and Fox News reports, which you are free to dispute. But I like how you counter facts with an "editorial".

in other words...

Yes, in very other words, since your "other" words are not only contrary to historical fact, but they also say nothing even close to the passage you yourself quoted.

come on..more lies..bring 'em on

Nope, you've brought quite enough.

Ok Brian..Karl Rov... (Below threshold)
bruce:

Ok Brian..

Karl Rove not withstanding, the argument is when did the Awakening movement start and take hold? ..No doubt there were traces of an Awakening movement forming in the Sept '06. But the Awakening movement itself didn't actually actually gain any momentum until after the surge began as this 12/06 New York Times article states:

"It has grown like wildfire since June, with 43,000 guards in at least 17 neighborhoods as of Dec. 10, according to the American military"


Also the Iraq Awakening Party didn't form until
April of '07

I'll grant you McCain should have chosen his words better, but in Iraq where timelines are fuzzy this is hardly a gaffe of Obama proportions.

The key point is that in sept of '06 when the sheikhs started to come together they did it for the benefit of their families. The leader had seen too many of his family slaughtered by Al -Qaeda . It didn't grow to become the political movement it is today until after the Surge began when other Sunni tribes had the confidence to come forward join the Awakening.


the argument is when did... (Below threshold)
Brian:

the argument is when did the Awakening movement start and take hold?

Clearly that's your argument. But it wasn't McCain's.

Colonel Sean MacFarland (on whom McCain based his statement):

The "Anbar Awakening" of Sunni tribal leaders and their supporters that began in September 2006 near Ramadi seemed to come out of nowhere.
...
On 9 September 2006 [Sheik] Sittar organized a tribal council, attended by over 50 sheiks and the brigade commander, at which he declared the "Anbar Awakening" officially underway.

McCain:

Because of the surge ... it began the Anbar awakening. I mean, that's just a matter of history.

McCain was flat-out wrong. That's just a matter of history.

Obama is a flat-out fake "l... (Below threshold)
TheWiseOne:

Obama is a flat-out fake "leader", and he will lose the election due to this assessment by the majority of U.S. (not European) voters.

McCain is not perfect, but neither were any of the last three Presidents.




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