Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Ah, what if Dan Quayle had said this?

Poor Dan Quayle will go down in history for his role in a school spelling bee, when he corrected a student who had correctly spelled potato. Quayle was relying on flash cards given him by the school and approved by his staff. Sure, it was a dumb mistake and seemed emblematic of the press template of Dan Quayle as in over his head as vice president. I never held that mistake too much against him. I guess I see too many elementary spelling mistakes every day from very smart students. Quayle had been told that the cards were correct and, from the story, none of the adults observing the photo op seemed to notice the mistake until the journalists in the room asked Quayle about it afterward. How many of us have ever written a common word and then suddenly doubt whether or not it's spelled correctly? And finally, what does it matter if the vice president can spell well or not?

But he will forever be known as the guy who couldn't spell potato. The late-night comedians seized this gift and had a glorious time ridiculing him. Those are the breaks and how one gaffe can come to cement a politician's image.

Well, here's another little gaffe from Janet Napolitano. When Diane Sawyer asked about security measures during the holiday season, this was the reassurance that the Homeland Security Secretary offered us.
“What I say to the American people is that… thousands of people are working 24/7, 364 days a year to keep the American people safe.”
As Mediate writes, at least we should be happy that she didn't specify the one day when Homeland Security is off so the terrorists will have to keep guessing. They have the video so you can see the whole exchange. Note that Sawyer doesn't react or ask a clarifying question. Of course she would not want to embarrass the Secretary.

Well, as little respect as I have for the mental acuity of Janet "The System Worked" Napolitano, I don't think that the Department of Homeland Security is only protecting us 364 days a year. She misspoke and all of us have done that. Even her boss who claimed to have visited 57 states during the campaign with Hawaii and Alaska left to go.

Just as I don't think that Quayle was a spelling idiot, I don't think that Obama and Napolitano are innumerate. But dumbness doesn't fit the media template for either Obama or Napolitano so we won't see one hundredth the ridicule for either of them that poor Dan Quayle endured for the potato gaffe. And I won't even get into what would have happened if Sarah Palin had said such a thing. The media determines the template and the comics slavishly follow those perceptions. So I expect to see this little Napolitano gaffe to bounce around the conservative blogosphere for a day or so and then sink forever into that nowhere land where the gaffes of Democrats go to die.