Monday, 17 November 2008

Obama's "Gaffes" - The Truth and Nothing But the Truth

Conventional wisdom holds that Obama made two major gaffes during his long presidential campaign. The first was during the Democratic primaries when he remarked at a private dinner that many poor whites in Pennsylvania were bitter and clung to guns and religion. Hillary Clinton pounced on him for that bit of political incorrectness and attempted to squeeze every bit of mileage she could from it (not very much, as it turned out). Then, towards the end of the campaign, there was his comment to Joe the Plumber that "spreading the wealth around" was a desirable thing in the current circumstances, a comment that was promptly seized upon by the Republicans to proclaim Obama a socialist.

Now that the election is safely over, and far from the heat and dust of US politics, I have to wonder what Obama said that was so wrong.

Do uneducated poor whites in the Appalachian region bitterly cling to guns and religion? Sweet Jesus, that's God's own truth, so shoot me.

Perhaps as Jack Nicholson's Colonel Jessep suggested in A Few Good Men, Americans can't handle the truth...?

And wouldn't spreading the wealth around just be the opposite of George Bush's policy of concentrating wealth in the hands of a few? That hasn't exactly been the best policy as current events have shown, so why the fuss?

I think it would be far better to suffix the word "socialist" every time it's used with the Seinfeldian phrase, "not that there's anything wrong with that."

(My idea of Utopia isn't socialism (not that there's anything wrong with that) and neither is it laissez-faire capitalism, but if we cannot have competitive markets to spread the wealth around in a capitalistically acceptable way, then perhaps a little fiscal spreading through progressive taxation is the way to go.)

After the election, Obama made another "gaffe". He said he wouldn't hold séances to contact dead presidents like Nancy Reagan did. That was untrue only in a literal sense. In spirit (pun intended), it was a fair comment since Nancy Reagan was known to consult astrologers.

All in all, I think I like Obama's gaffes better than his trite statements. They have the clear ring of truth. Keep them coming, Mr. President!

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