Green Room

Gaffe-tastic: let’s go to the tape

posted at 7:17 am on August 1, 2012 by

A gaffe is when a politician tells the truth — so say many political observers.

If so, I have some advice for presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney: the next time some journo snarks at you about your so-called blunders while abroad, issue a challenge: go ahead and have a gaffe-a-palooza, guys and gals, replay those tapes along with the president’s recent “you didn’t build that on your own” stumble for the American people and let them choose which inadvertent “truth” they prefer.

Mitt Romney’s supposed mistakes while abroad recently caused his critics (on the left and right)  to have a collective case of the vapors. But were the goofs all that bad?

First, in an interview, he said the following about preparations for the London Olympics:

“There are a few things that were disconcerting, the stories about the private security firm not having enough people, the supposed strike of the immigration and customs officials, that obviously is not something which is encouraging.”

Pass the smelling salts, Martha! What a flub! Except…CNN’s Piers Morgan kind of agrees with him:


And, by now, we’ve also seen the stories about ticket mixups and empty venues that tell us what everybody probably already knew–events like these are tough to manage, and …stuff…happens.

Sure, it would have been more diplomatic for Mr. Romney to smile and say things looked just peachy over there, old boy, hip-hip, cheerio, but his truth blurt was hardly a cause for a trip to the fainting couch, regardless how twisted up some British knickers got.

Similarly, while in Israel, Mr. Romney remarked on the differences in achievement between nations and how culture plays a role in those differences:

“Culture makes all the difference…And as I come here and I look out over this city and consider the accomplishments of the people of this nation, I recognize the power of at least culture and a few other things.”

“…As you come here and you see the G.D.P. per capita, for instance, in Israel, which is about $21,000, and compare that with the G.D.P. per capita just across the areas managed by the Palestinian Authority, which is more like $10,000 per capita, you notice such a dramatically stark difference in economic vitality. And that is also between other countries that are near or next to each other. Chile and Ecuador, Mexico and the United States.”

If the Obama campaign is silly enough to put those quotes in an anti-Romney commercial, chances are many Americans would be nodding their heads in agreement…with Romney.

Contrast that, however, to the truth the president revealed about himself in the now-famous “you didn’t build that” speech in Roanoke.  While his supporters (including many in the media) claim the comment was taken out of context, providing the context only makes it worse. The context shows the president sneering at achievers, mocking their smarts and hard work, a point driven home in this Josh Barro Bloomberg piece, recently linked to on this here site.

A Facebook discussion on this “out of context” mantra had me issuing this teasing challenge to an Obama supporter: if you think the remarks were taken out of context, go ahead and play the whole “context.” Play it over and over. Please.

So, the next time the Victorian ladies of the press corps start pestering the Romney campaign about these so-called gaffes of his, the response should be: “let’s go to the tape, Howie.” Go ahead and replay the sound bites for America, along with the president’s blunder.

Mr. Romney’s “truth” is probably a whole lot more appealing to voters than President Obama’s.


Libby Sternberg is a novelist. Buy her books! Read her blogs! Tell her what you think below or by emailing her at Libby488 (at)

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Good article!

I wonder where Mitt got his figures, though: A comparison of the IMF, World Bank, and CIA factbook figures as of last year shows Israel’s GDP in the range of $28,000 – $31,000.

As for “Palestine”, none of those lists even have a ranking for it, but two of them do list GDP figures for “West Bank and Gaza” as $2,465 – $2,900. Pretty damn pathetic, if you ask me, and barely 20% of the $10,000 Mitt imputed to them! (Perhaps he was being kind…)

For comparison, the USA’s GDP per capita, according to the same sources, is in the range of $48,100 – 48,442. And we’re not even close to the top (that would be Qatar and Liechtenstein).

Mary in LA on August 1, 2012 at 2:23 PM