NYT Howler of the Day: Obama Makes 'Few Rhetorical Stumbles'

Is reporter Michael Powell at the New York Times auditioning for Comic Relief?

At next year's event, Powell's headline at his August 2 story (HT Weapons of Mass Discussion) about Obama's repeated hypocritical invocations and charges relating to race (of course, that's not how he sees it), along with his report's first 10 words, would bring the house down:

With Genie Out of Bottle, Obama Is Careful on Race

Senator Barack Obama is a man of few rhetorical stumbles .....

Only someone locked inside the Old Media bubble could possibly believe that Obama hasn't "stumbled" repeatedly, to the point where he's making Bush 41 Vice President Dan Quayle look like a certified genius.

Answers.com identifies a dozen verbal gaffes committed by Mr. Quayle. Add the potato/potatoe episode, and you have a baker's dozen of 13 in the space of 4-plus years, or roughly three per year.

As you will see, Obama has more than tripled Quayle's number in just under two years, and heaven knows how many others have gone unreported.

An official GOP web site, barackgaffes.com, has been compiling a comprehensive list of gaffes ever since it became clear that the presumptive Democratic nominee is perhaps the most mistake-prone nominee of any party in American history. The gaffes are in eleven categories, ranging from Bill Ayers to taxes to "energy and enviroment" (the site's managers may be checking to see if we're awake).

The compilers have indeed been very busy.

Some are admittedly minor. But many betray a disturbing degree of cultural and economic ignorance, bordering on illiteracy, that would cause a person evaluating a job applicant for any intellectually challenging position -- let alone Commander in Chief of the most powerful country in the world -- to have serious second thoughts.

Here are some, but by no means all, of the more disturbing examples:

  • Basic geography -- Discussing the upcoming Kentucky Primary in May, Obama said, "Sen. Clinton, I think, is much better known, coming from a nearby state of Arkansas." 20 years in Illinois, and he doesn't pick up the fact that his home-state Land of Lincoln borders the Commonwealth of Kentucky, and is thus closer to Kentucky (i.e., adjacent to it) than Arkansas (which isn't)?
  • Middle East/War on Terror -- He doesn't know that spoken languages in Iraq and Afghanistan are different. If that's not enough, the same ABC post notes Obama's belief that "agricultural specialists" who would teach farmers how to grow crops other than opium were being sent to Baghdad, where there is very little if any opium production.
  • World Affairs (even carried at Obama's own web site) -- He clearly didn't know that the chief executive of Canada is the Prime Minister, not its president. Over three decades as an adult, how many news articles has he read and not comprehended, or news reports has he heard and not understood, to still believe that?
  • Basic Finance -- Obama has said, "If we went back to the obesity rates that existed in 1980, that would save the Medicare system a trillion dollars." The entire annual federal budget is about $3.1 trillion. The Medicaid/SCHIP portion of that budget is $224 billion; if you assume that the Feds cover 50% of all Medicaid costs, you're still only up to about $450 billion, or less than half of Obama's claimed savings. Even if you try to excuse Obama's statement by claiming that it refers to multiple years, you can't get anywhere near $1 trillion. It's shocking enough that a US Senator would make such a fundamentally ignorant statement, let alone a presidential nominee.
  • Energy Basics (this one hasn't even made it to the GOP's list yet) -- Obama claimed that proper tire inflation and regular tune-ups "could save all the oil that they’re talking about getting off drilling." Again, laughably, not even close.

That the Times's Powell would open an article analyzing the presidential race with such an obvious gaffe of his own demonstrates just how out of touch those in the world of the Old Gray Lady have become.

Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.

Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.