The first rule lawyers learn, besides that every waking moment is billable to someone, is not to ask questions when you’re unprepared for the answer. The nation’s biggest celebrity Constitutional scholar must have skipped class that day at Harvard. At the end of the health-care summit last week, Barack Obama falls a little too in love with his own wit and gets zinged over reconciliation as a consequence:

Medical malpractice has been mentioned. Now, look, let me be honest. This is something, historically, that Democrats have been more resistant to than Republicans. I will note that, when we had a Republican president and Republicans controlled the House and Republicans controlled the Senate, somehow it didn’t happen. And I’m surprised.

(UNKNOWN): We needed 60 votes in the Senate, too, Mr. President.

OBAMA: Well, the — see… (LAUGHTER) See there?

When the GOP held a ten-vote advantage in the Senate, a slender majority in the House, and the Presidency, they could have attempted to force tort reform through Congress using reconciliation. Why didn’t they do it? Many of their own Senators would have objected to it as an abuse of the rules. And they would have been right.

Unfortunately, President Obama didn’t think before asking the question … and wound up with egg on his face.

Got an Obamateurism of the Day? If you see a foul-up by Barack Obama, e-mail it to me at [email protected] with the quote and the link to the Obamateurism. I’ll post the best Obamateurisms on a daily basis, depending on how many I receive. Include a link to your blog, and I’ll give some link love as well. And unlike Slate, I promise to end the feature when Barack Obama leaves office.

Illustrations by Chris Muir of Day by Day. Be sure to read the adventures of Sam, Zed, Damon, and Jan every day!