Obamateurism of the Day

When speaking at a campaign event and sharing the stage with a mayor looking to get re-elected, it helps to check if the President’s speech might contain a few speed bumps for the local candidate … or perhaps some potholes. Barack Obama managed to embarrass his host with a poorly-constructed analogy that touched a nerve with the rally attendees, as Jake Tapper reports:


“This will bear on how we think about our federal budget in the future,” he said. “Everybody dislikes Washington right now, and everybody wants to lower their taxes. Everybody hates waste in government. But at the same time, you know, government does some important things like helping to make sure you’ve got clean drinking water and that your roads aren’t full of potholes.”

The “potholes” reference may have been an uncomfortable one for Ottumwa Mayor Dale Uehling, given the current situation in this small town. The headline of an Ottumwa Courier story from last month was, “Warning: Rough Roads Ahead: Conditions have made pothole season as bad as it’s ever been.”

After groans from the crowd, the president turned to Uehling. “I think I touched on a sore spot here, Mr. Mayor,” he smiled.

It would probably be a good idea if the speech wasn’t full of them, either. That wasn’t the only ditch that Obama ran into at the rally, either:

“We’re going to have to make some tough choices” about the deficit and national debt, President Obama said to a crowded gymnasium full of supporters at Indian Hills Community College, after a lengthy riff on how the unsustainable debt would need to be tackled.

This, unlike most of what the president said during the town hall meeting, was met with silence.

“I noticed I didn’t get a lot of clapping about the whole ‘We’re gonna have the hard choices’ thing,” the president ribbed the crowd.


Yes, well, when you tell people for three years that your programs won’t require the “hard choices thing,” that’s the kind of reaction you get when you suddenly demand it of them.

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!

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