We Need More “Gaffes”

Posted: May 13, 2012 in Current Events, Politics
Tags: , , , ,

Political “gaffes”, as defined by the media, comes in two forms.  The first form is when a politician gets tongue-tied and says something that he/she doesn’t really mean.  These are such things as when then candidate Obama referenced the “57 states” he had visited or when the way McCain worded a speech in support of Romney in such a way that it made it sound like Romney supported earmarks when McCain actually meant the opposite.  We don’t need more of these “gaffes” (though since getting tongue-tied is human nature, they will continue to happen and continue to get too much media coverage.)  But there is a second form of “gaffe” that we do need.

The other form of “gaffe” is when a politician actually tells the truth but it isn’t something that he/she is supposed to say.  Examples that come to mind are when Romney’s campaign spokesman mentioned that when it comes to the general election that the campaign can shake things up like an etch-a-sketch (everyone seems to accept that campaigns have to lean toward the left or the right during the primary and then come back to the center for the general election, but I guess anyone associated with an actual campaign has to play stupid to that) or when, though not truth in words but instead in emotion, Howard Dean actually had an audacity to show genuine excitement about his upcoming campaign stops during his 2004 campaign (because politicians have to be ‘Presidential’ and not human).  Vice President Joe Biden had such a “gaffe” moment last Sunday on Meet The Press.

On that program, Joe Biden was asked about gay marriage.  He honestly answered the question by saying he had no issue with gay/lesbian marriage.  Simple answer to a  simple question, right?  Oh no, not that simple.  He was not supposed to answer that question.  Why?  Because his boss, Barack Obama, has refused to answer that question, choosing instead to say that his view on that issue was “evolving”, a non-answer answer that probably even had Bill Clinton shaking his head.   So, boom, you have a “gaffe”, can’t make the President look bad you know.

But a funny thing happened.  Now all of a sudden the question of gay marriage becomes an issue.  The President (or more exactly, his press secretary) was getting asked the question, and the whole “evolving” answer was exposed as being lame.  Obama was forced to take a position.  As a result, we have, for the first time ever, a sitting President willing to take a public position in support of gay marriage.  Make no mistake, while some argue that Obama doesn’t go far enough because he also said he thinks the issue should be resolved at the state level instead of federal level, the fact that a sitting President is willing to make such a public stance is, to paraphrase Biden, a pretty big f’n deal.  No other President was willing go this far, and one only has to look to North Carolina to know that this could have political consequences.

None of this happens without Biden’s “gaffe”.  But what really happened here is one politician told the truth forcing another politician to tell the truth (or at least take an actual position on an issue).  Why is this a regarded as a “gaffe” or mistake by the media?  Shouldn’t we WANT our politicians telling the truth, for better or worse?  Everyone wins, whether we agree on a policy position or not, if we actually know what those positions are, and you would think the media would consider reporting these positions as a key part of their job.

I think it really comes back to the media covering politics like sports, where everything is looked at from the perspective of the election scoreboards, and sometimes the truth can hurt those chances.  So the media doesn’t actually view an honest answer as ‘wow, he actually answered the question, good to be able to relay to the people where he/she stands’.  It’s more, ‘oh no, he told the truth, what an idiot!  That’s going to cost him some points…er…I mean votes!’  (You know, media, just as a ‘for instance’, what is more important, what impact the high unemployment rate has on Obama’s or Romney’s election chances, or the fact that there’s a lot of people out of work and how that impacts the all the rest of us that don’t happen to be running for President?  This is not a game!)

Personally I would rather hear the truth and think that should be encouraged.  So Biden, you just keep up with your “gaffing” ways!  Don’t you change for anyone!  We need a little more (by which I mean a lot more) honesty in politics.

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