AP's Woodward Commits His Own Gaffes While Chronicling 2010 Campaign Gaffes

October 30th, 2010 9:39 AM

Per MerriamWebster.com -- Gaffe: 1) a social or diplomatic blunder; 2) a noticeable mistake.

The Associated Press's Calvin Woodward has had a few shining analytical moments during the first two years of the Obama administration (examples here and here).

The AP reporter's dispatch on "gaffes and gotchas" Friday morning, which attempted to communicate a sense of bemusement tinged with condescension, both aimed mostly at first-time candidates, is not one of them, and contained its own gaffes:

Memo to novice political candidates: Know thy Constitution. Don't tell Hispanics they look Asian. Pay special attention to what you say when you are in front of cameras. Which you almost always are. Expect your chitchat to go viral.


... This is the year of the neophyte in politics. Anti-incumbent sentiment in general and the tea party in particular have brought fresh faces forward, many wet behind the ears in the brutalities of a modern campaign.


The result: a rash of impolitic politics - gaffes, raw rhetoric, unsettling theories - followed by gotchas, recycled mercilessly by opponent's campaign ads, cable TV and the blogs. [1]


In Delaware, Christine O'Donnell got tangled in the First Amendment, appearing unaware it separates religion and government. [2] The Second Amendment caused grief for fellow Republican Sharron Angle in Nevada, who entertained the notion of "Second Amendment remedies" - that would be a call to arms [3] - if government isn't brought to heel.


... Senate candidates Mark Blumenthal, Democrat of Connecticut, and Mark Kirk, Republican of Illinois, exaggerated their military records. [4]


... The experienced Harry Reid, Senate majority leader and Angle's Nevada opponent, cast himself as a savior of epic proportions, remarking that "but for me, we'd be in a worldwide depression." [5]


... Still, the success of scores of tea party favorites in Republican primaries gave rise to a phalanx of eager achievers unaccustomed to the hothouse; hence, more rough edges. A pizzeria owner, rancher, doctors, war veterans and a pilot are among them. [6]


One of the most prominent of the tea party picks, though, is Joe Miller, a lawyer, former judge and Yale grad who's taken a series of rookie missteps.


Miller, a Republican Senate hopeful from Alaska, criticized federal unemployment, health care and farm aid only to acknowledge his family has benefited from those subsidies in the past. [7] And he's been saddled by the disclosure that as a borough attorney in 2008, he admitted to lying about improperly using government computers and was disciplined. [8]

Before delving into the specifics above, it should be noted that Woodward failed to mention that Christine O'Donnell's Democratic opponent Chris Coons couldn't correctly name even one of the five freedoms (speech, religion, assembly, petition, press) in the First Amendment. Coons could only incorrectly identify "separation of church and state."

Now to the details:

[1] -- For a rash of "gaffes (start here and go backwards), raw rhetoric," and "unsettling theories," see Barack Obama for President, 2008.

[2] -- The press won't let their made-up "gaffe" on Christine O'Donnell and the First Amendment go, will they? Ms. O'Donnell challenged her opponent Mike Coons as to whether separation of church and state is in the Constitution. All the crowd laughter and press ridicule that occurred then and is still occurring won't change the fact that it isn't. Woodward's "clever" rephrase -- " appearing unaware it separates religion and government" -- is an attempt to keep the remnants of that smear alive without actually repeating it.

[3] -- "The Second Amendment solutions" audio with Lars Larson is here. The quote involved is: "I hope that's not where we're going, but, you know, if this Congress keeps going the way it is, people are really looking toward those Second Amendment remedies and saying my goodness what can we do to turn this country around? I'll tell you the first thing we need to do is take Harry Reid out. "How does Woodward know that this "entertains" a "call to (take up) arms"? Of course, he doesn't. When I hear "Second Amendment solutions," I think of so many people who have told me that they have felt the need to arm themselves and learn how to use a gun in case civil order breaks down. God forbid if that should ever happen, but if it does, it will largely be because Congress spends the next few years, as O'Donnell said, "going the way it is" and destroying the country's economic and legal foundations.

[4] -- The AP reporter committed his own gaffe with Blumenthal's first name, referring to him as "Mark" (as seen here in this Google search; it was corrected in his 11:56 a.m. update). It is Richard, or Dick. As to specifics, Mark Kirk corrected a written item in 2005 which erroneously stated he had served "in" Iraq instead of "during" Iraq while he was also serving as a stateside congressman. The Kirk campaign also mischaracterized and has since corrected a Navy intelligence award as an individual honor instead of as one for his unit. If there is a record of Mark Kirk telling an audience that he served "in" Iraq, it hasn't surfaced. Dick Blumenthal himself, by his own admission "on a few occasions," has falsely told audiences that he served "in" Vietnam, not "during" Vietnam. Blumenthal himself has also spoke of "when we returned" from Vietnam, obviously implying that he was among those who was there in the first place. He wasn't. Tricky Dick's lies stretch in time at least from 2003 to 2008. Woodward's attempt to make Kirk's and Blumenthal's service misstatements equivalent is disgraceful.

[5] -- Harry Reid's "but for me, we'd be in a worldwide depression" statement doesn't fit the definition of "gaffe" above. What it represents is "the height of arrogance and self-aggrandizement."

[6] -- Heaven forbid that people with real-life experiences run for office. We've been so well-served by career politicians (/sarcasm). And Cal, ol' buddy 'ol pal, how could you, in essence, write that military veterans are "unaccustomed to the hot house"? Just an FYI: Every post-World War II president until Bill Clinton served in the military (Truman, Ike, JFK, LBJ, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush 41), and there was a time when voters considered such service an indispensable qualification to be considered for the presidency.

[7] -- Here we go again. It's the extension of the pathetic press meme that used to be: "You're not allowed to complain about government programs if you've ever received any kind of benefit of subsidy." Woodward extends it to "anyone in your family." What's next, "anyone in your neighborhood"?

[8] -- Miller's "offense" was taking an online survey on a government computer during work hours. Oh, the humanity.

This post didn't even get to the predominantly Democratic mega-gaffes Woodward ignored, including but certainly not limited to those involving Coons (noted earlier), Florida Congressman Alan Grayson, Michigan Congressman John Dingell, Ohio Governor Ted Strickland, and crybaby GOP Senate primary loser and write-in candidate Lisa Murkowski.

Despite the occasional references to experienced politicians, Woodward's piece comes across to this reader as an offensive and distasteful "how dare these plebes rise up and assert themselves" riff. Very weak, Cal. Very weak.

Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.