Political candidates sometimes say inexplicable things. For example, recently Barack Obama said that “the private sector is doing fine” sending some on the right into epileptic fits that were half acrimony and half nirvana.
One thing about gaffes is attempting to discern what they really are. Just a slip of the tongue? Saying the opposite of what was intended by mistake? The accidental disclosures of true feelings? The perplexing result of being a bit too clever with arguments? Or just plain and simple “fuck my mouth” moments? Each gaffe needs to be explored to hopefully determine exactly which might be the case.
Obama tried to walk back his “fine” comment by saying he meant the private sector wasn’t the problem with the economy. When that didn’t pan out, he tried to frame it as a comment about “good momentum.” Finally he admitted that it was “absolutely clear” the private sector was not fine. I’m still a little confused about the whole thing and what he was really trying to say. Either way, some on the right were at the ready to rip his comment to shreds.
So I decided to explore some other moments in recent gaffe history.
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Here we are in the year 2010. As far as I know, it’s the most recent year we’ve ever had. At least up until now.
I just opened my shiny new Windows Live Messenger 2011 and it shoved some daily news down my throat. (Anyone know how to make my contact list go back to the smaller view?)
The top stories I saw included:
- “Bionic” Man with mind-controlled high-tech arm dies
- Scores dead in Haiti cholera outbreak
- ‘World’s Most advanced’ nuclear sub runs aground
I tugged on a thread of that tapestry and came away with this thought: We humans sure are fallible. Have we learned nothing from the Titanic and Jurassic Park? Life will not be contained. Or, as Yeats so aptly put it: “Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold.”
When humans live in unsanitary conditions the risk of disease is greatly increased. You don’t need to be Einstein to know that. And this is how we treat each other? “Welp, they are poor. I guess they deserve it.”
The problem with that logic is that diseases tend to not stop and check a person’s wallet before hopping on for a ride.
The Titanic hit an iceberg almost 100 years ago. A century later and our “most advanced” sub can still make a similar mistake. Learn from history much?
Lastly, regarding the “bionic” man, I only have this to say: Our state of the art transportation system still relies on fragile vehicles powered by the gasoline-powered internal combustion engine. Motorize vehicle, oh how we love thee! Yet that love affair has a high price. 30,000 to 40,000 human beings, on average, are killed every year on our nation’s highways and roads.
What if I came to you and said, “Psst. Hey, buddy! Check this out. I got an idea for a method of transportation that will let that vast majority of people in your country go from any Point A to any Point B that they want, and at the exact moment the want it. Neat, huh? The only downside is that it will kill 30,000 or more people a year. You want this, right?”
Something tells me that we humans aren’t as smart as we seem to think we are.