Late Night: The Season of Dueling Gaffes Begins
I guess the campaign for the White House must be starting to heat up, because both major candidates are starting to open their mouths a little too often — leading to opportunities for the rest of us to amuse ourselves with snark at their expense (just about the only respite we get from the prospect of one of them running the country for the next four years).
For instance, the usually more verbally adept President Obama managed to entrap himself this week in an awkward attempt at public introspection, in an interview with Charlie Rose to air on Sunday:
President Obama reflected on the biggest “mistake” of his first term… telling Charlie Rose he focused too much on policy at the expense of storytelling:
“When I think about what we’ve done well and what we haven’t done well,” the president said, “the mistake of my first term – couple of years – was thinking that this job was just about getting the policy right. And that’s important. But the nature of this office is also to tell a story to the American people that gives them a sense of unity and purpose and optimism, especially during tough times.”
… “It’s funny – when I ran, everybody said, well he can give a good speech but can he actually manage the job?” he said. “And in my first two years, I think the notion was, ‘Well, he’s been juggling and managing a lot of stuff, but where’s the story that tells us where he’s going?’ And I think that was a legitimate criticism.”
Um, really, Mr. President? You’ve been in the White House for three and a half years, during which unemployment has never fallen below 8 percent, and your biggest mistake was not telling a better story?! You really think you aced the course, policy-wise?
It’s a testament to the impressive ineptitude of Obama’s opponent that this foot-in-mouth remark didn’t get more attention than it has. Instead, the Romney campaign has managed to monopolize the week’s unwanted media attention with as it wrestled clumsily with criticisms of Mitt’s past business life. I haven’t been brave enough to view any of Romney’s panicked round of interviews this evening, but given reports of him whining for an apology and continuing to dodge responsibility, I can’t see how he’s done anything but intensify the spotlight on himself.
Generally speaking, though, nothing exemplifies how Romney’s entire run for the presidency has been one long gaffe than the inadvertent foreshadowing offered by this decade-old tidbit (quoted by David Dayen earlier this morning):
… according to Romney’s own testimony in June 2002… he admitted to sitting on the board of the Lifelike Co., a doll maker that was a Bain investment during the period.
You have to admit that’s an innovative business practice. It would be impressive and egalitarian to have a rank-and-file employee on the board of directors, but apparently Lifelike Co. went one step further and put one of its own products on the board!