WASHINGTON, May 26, 2015 – It seems that we can’t get through a single day without a politician saying something idiotic. One day it’s the Democrats, the next day, it’s the Republicans. Some days, members of both parties say something so inane that they attract the attention of the press.
News networks all wait drooling for the next misstatement by our elected officials.
It’s our fault. The public’s perception of politicians is warped. As soon as someone attains public office, we assume they have become experts on everything that the press asks them to comment about. They ask a married middle-aged congressman with six kids about the issue of abortion, and expect him to expound on the geopolitical implications of Roe v. Wade in the 21st century.
We ask men in his same age group their opinions on same-sex marriage, birth control and the rights of women in Afghanistan. They are clearly unqualified to open their mouths, but when the press asks the question and the cameras are there, they comment, and the press begins drooling for that blooper that will make their day.
They are not total fools. They had the finesse, finances and ego to get elected, but there is no formal training to prevent politicians from putting both feet in their mouths. The reality of that mental picture is that upon accomplishing that seemingly impossible feat, some politicians have developed the ability to keep talking.
This is the moment of sheer giddiness for the press corps: The politician expounds on the very same subject that got them in trouble. Richard Nixon was famous for trying to extract feet from mouth by attempting to explain a dumb statement which is now lost to history:
“I know you think you believe you understand what you thought I said, but I am not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.” – Richard Nixon
The press is equally culpable.
They are the hovering droolers, the vultures of information who live for that 15-second soundbite that will ensure that they get a paycheck. The paparazzi of words are stalking these elected officials in the same way as the bloodsucking image-seekers who live for their opportunity to make news from Lindsay Lohan or Britney Spears. They wait. In the golden moment when these newsworthy politicians are walking their dogs or pulling out of a parking spot, they emerge and ask “the Question.”
It would be refreshing to see a politician respond to a stupid question in an honest way. We should applaud anyone elected to public office who replies, “That question is so stupid that it does not deserve an answer.” If the member of the press persisted, we can only hope that any court in the land would acquit that politician for whipping out a Taser and dropping them to the sidewalk in a halo of sparks.
This would never happen in the real world, for the response to the question would become the news of the moment. The reason for the Tasering would be lost to history.
Maybe politicians do respond to idiotic questions in the appropriate way. The American public will never know. Those comments are not broadcast. They don’t get past the editors. The dumb comments get all of the attention, and the artful dodgers who lack the ability to say “I don’t know” get caught in the same net.
Consider Hillary Clinton’s response to a question she was not prepared to answer:
“My accomplishments as secretary of state? Well, I’m glad you asked.”
She could have brushed off the question or looked at her watch and explained that she was late for an important appointment. She could have said that a comment of that magnitude required more than the time she had and quietly informed her staff of speechwriters to prepare something that would be profound and witty. Instead, both feet became firmly wedged in her mouth and she kept talking.
“My proudest accomplishment in which I take the most pride, mostly because of the opposition it faced early on, you know…”
Here it comes, wait for it…
“…the remnants of prior situations and mindsets that were too narrowly focused in a manner whereby they may have overlooked the bigger picture, and we didn’t do that, and I’m proud of that.”
By this time, the press must have been drooling and smacking their lips. Candidate Clinton then capped off the words that should have never been spoken with a strong affirmation of strength:
“Very proud. I would say that’s a major accomplishment.”
Why are political bloopers newsworthy?
Because America loves to poke fun at politicians, and on most news days, the topic of that day is not new. Most of the news and the blooper topics are repetitive and boring. How many times do we need to be reminded that the economy sucks, jobs are scarce or that Congress couldn’t pass a budget?
There is hope on the horizon for our national relief from boredom. Campaign season is about to return with a vengeance, and the top candidates have figured out how to get around campaign finance laws created for the purpose of limiting their spending. What does that mean for all of us?
Non-stop political ads, posted between news stories of politicians in Iowa eating corn dogs.
Now, that’s newsworthy.
Hillary, what were your accomplishments as secretary of state? Her answer is a non-answer.