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EDITORIAL: Obama’s gaffes not for laughs

Verbal flubs reflect president’s guiding principles

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Ronald Reagan once said that in politics, if you're explaining, you're losing. Lately the Obama campaign has been spending more time cleaning up its messes than getting out a message.

Some of the latest gaffes are just for laughs. Vice President Joseph R. Biden, Jr.'s recent lapses -- forgetting what century he was living in and confusing Virginia with North Carolina -- became instant punch lines for late-night comedians. President Obama hasn't been immune to similar misstatements, such as when he referred to Hawaii as being in Asia, invented the "Austrian" language, thoughtlessly said his low bowling score was "like Special Olympics," affirmed that Sen. John McCain "has not talked about my Muslim faith," mentioned he had been "in 57 states" with "one left to go," or when he was honoring America's "unbroken line of fallen heroes" on Memorial Day saying he could "see many of them in the audience here today."

Mr. Obama's more recent problem statements have been more than just mere slips of the teleprompter. "You didn't build that" and "The private sector is doing fine" reflect Mr. Obama's deeply held beliefs about the nature of business and the economy. The campaign claims Mr. Obama's words were taken out of context, but these statements resonated because they fit so well in the context of his record. To hard-pressed business owners, "you didn't build that" became an instant rallying cry.

It's undeniable Mr. Obama thinks government should lead economic and job growth. He said explicitly that people who built their businesses didn't succeed because of their hard work and initiative but because of luck and the guiding hand of bureaucrats. These "gaffes" are akin to what then-candidate Barack Obama told Sam "Joe the Plumber" Wurzelbacher in October 2008, "When you spread the wealth around, it's good for everybody." The Obama campaign tried to explain that one away too, but almost four years later, it's clear that income redistribution is one of Mr. Obama's guiding principles. As the current economic mess shows, spreading the wealth around isn't good for anybody.

The latest statement raising eyebrows came when Mr. Obama told Entertainment Tonight on Wednesday, "I don't think you or anybody who's been watching the campaign would say, yes, that in any way we have tried to divide the country. We've always tried to bring the country together." If so, he has done a poor job of it. An analysis by Gallup earlier this year revealed that Mr. Obama has been the most polarizing occupant of the Oval Office in the past 60 years. Driving wedges into American society is the basis of Mr. Obama's re-election effort, whether it is inciting class envy, concocting a purported Republican "war on women," scaring seniors by falsely claiming presumptive GOP vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan's budget plan threatened Medicare, or inflaming racial animosity.

When Mr. Biden makes a gaffe, the general reaction is, "There goes crazy Joe again." The president's misstatements, in contrast, are no laughing matter.

The Washington Times

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