Peter Costa: Campaign trail littered with verbal mistakes
I’ll bet you $10,000 that Mitt Romney will make a gaffe as his campaign continues in the late summer and fall.
Vice President Joe Biden can misfire any time he speaks.
Misstatements and verbal miscues occur in presidential races because politicians are forced to talk all day, every day. Moreover, with every cell phone a microphone, the chances that a politician will get away with a misstatement are as likely as evening talk show hosts deciding not to make fun of political gaffes.
The Romney family knows the bitter truth about saying something that will boomerang. Mitt’s dad, George Romney, the former governor of Michigan, torpedoed his 1968 run for the presidency when he said that he had been “brainwashed” concerning the Vietnam War by U.S. military and diplomatic officials. Republicans everywhere were offended. One Republican congressman, Richard Stafford of Vermont, said, “If you’re running for the presidency, you are supposed to have too much on the ball to be brainwashed.”
Democratic Sen. Eugene McCarthy was even more disparaging, and said that in Romney’s case, “a light rinse would have been sufficient.”
Spelling is particularly difficult for elected officials. Former Vice President Dan Quayle likes to add an “e” on the word potato. Biden has his own spelling and arithmetic challenges. ''Look, John's last-minute economic plan does nothing to tackle the No. 1 job facing the middle class, and it happens to be, as Barack says, a three-letter word: jobs. J-O-B-S, jobs.''
But we shouldn’t be smug. Can you imagine if everything we said in our cubicles were broadcast on C-SPAN? I have made gaffes in print – misspellings, grammatical errors, and worse – and that was after having my stories proofread by another editor. Maybe that is why we like it so much when politicians misspeak. We’re just delighted that people who make a living by talking can falter and fail. You don’t have to be brainwashed into thinking that, like rain, gaffes fall on the just and the unjust – especially in politics.
Peter Costa is a columnist for GateHouse Media. His latest collection of humor columns, “Outrageous CostaLiving,” is available at amazon.com