Anorak | It’s Not Just The Republican Presidential Hopefuls Who Are Lost For Words

It’s Not Just The Republican Presidential Hopefuls Who Are Lost For Words

by | 23rd, November 2011

FORGET Bill Clinton’s non-inhaling marijuana experimentation, forget John ‘flip-flop’ Kerry’s ‘I voted for it before I voted against it’ moment, forget Barack Obama’s ‘guns or religion’ putdown. With another six weeks to go before the 2012 Republican primary and caucuses schedule kicks off, the Grand Old Party’s presidential race contestants have already outgaffed presidential hopefuls of all creeds and times. Or so it would seem.

Since the debate season started in May, the nine GOP candidates have committed so many political  faux pas it seems the whole campaign is simply fodder for late-night talk shows. But is the 2012 race really exceptionally blunder-filled or is it that gaffes have become an unprecedented talking point and concern? Gaffes have always happened, but this time around both the candidates and their observers seem more preoccupied with them than ever before.

At first glance, it’s not hard to see what all the fuss is about. With every televised debate, the media of the mainstream, fringe and social kinds are treated with more and more embarrassing soundbites which the shamed candidate’s campaign team then frenetically tries to deflect. And with the ever-growing use of tools like Twitter and YouTube, the effects of embarrassing moments are amplified.

A particularly cringe-worthy live debate moment was when Texas governor Rick Perry accused Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney of hiring a lawn company that employs illegal immigrants. Romney claimed  he had told them ‘Look, you can’t have any illegals working on our property. I’m running for office, for Pete’s sake.’ Now, Pete keeps coming back to haunt Romney. As for Perry, his failure to name the third of the three federal agencies he vowed to eliminate as president provided the  ‘oops’ moment of the 2012 race.  His appearance on  The Late Show with David Letterman the night after hardly repaired the damage.

And it’s not just the televised debates (there have been 11 so far) that have become forums for slips and ‘brain freezes’. Earlier this month, former Godfather’s Pizza CEO Herman Cain failed to remember just what is going on in Libya and how his approach to the situation there would have differed from President Obama’s. His shambolic statement during a newspaper interview was filmed and became an instant YouTube hit. It matched the collective viral impact of Minnesota congresswoman Michele Bachmann’s many  historical blunders . For instance, she has said that the Founding Fathers who wrote the constitution and the Declaration of Independence ‘worked tirelessly’ to end slavery when, in fact, many of them were slave holders. She also said that John Quincy Adams was one of the founders when, in fact, it was his father, John Adams, who was one. During her first visit to New Hampshire, Bachmann encouraged the state to be proud that this was where the shot that started America’s war for independence was fired. In fact, the shot was fired in Massachusetts. Not great for a candidate who uses her homepage to pay homage to the Founding Fathers.

No wonder, then, that Tuesday’s Republican debate on national security led to much anticipation about what kind of viral sensations the ham-fisted candidates might inspire this time around. Would Cain boast yet again that if he doesn’t know the answer to ‘gotcha’ questions like ‘who is the president of Ubeki-beki-beki-beki-stan-stan?’ he’ll simply say ‘I don’t know’? Would Bachmann suggest that the US can’t have troops both in Libya and Africa?

The candidates often appear as clowns spending millions of dollars while pundits enjoy the show and wait for them to drop off the stage one by one in some kind of slapstick misstep. At a recent  New Yorker event , Steve Schmidt, a political strategist who was a key adviser to Senator John

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Posted: 23rd, November 2011 | In: Key Posts, News Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed: RSS 2.0 | TrackBack | Permalink