by Scott Wilkinson
Between two years and 22 presidential hopefuls, this campaign has had gaffes aplenty. What began as Freudian slips became alarming disconnects between candidates, their policies, and the government.
Joe Biden clenched his award for shortest presidential bid with the comment, “I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy, I mean, that’s a storybook, man.”
Barack Obama didn’t have an exactly smooth start either, “These small towns in Pennsylvania and… the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years… And they fell through the Clinton Administration, and the Bush Administration… And it’s not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.”
On the Republican side, enough candidates shot themselves in the foot to clear the way for dark-horse John McCain.
Self-styled superhero Rudy Giuliani described his involvement in the aftermath of 9/11, “I was at ground zero as often, if not more, than most of the workers. I was there working with them. I was there guiding things. I was the one bringing people there. I was exposed to exactly the same things they were exposed to. So in that sense, I’m one of them.” Giuliani would resurface in time for the National Republican Convention to deride community organizers and, as he put it, “a man who could rise only in America.”
The primaries were a crazy time. One in which Bosnian snipers, $400 haircuts, arugula, and the Beach Boy’s aggressive stance on Iran threatened the moral fiber of America. An elevated speaking Obama and McCain pair quickly bored the nation, so VPs were picked.
Biden’s attempt at soothing investors’ concerns missed the fireside quality he alluded to, “When the stock market crashed [in 1929], Franklin Roosevelt got on the television and didn’t just talk about the princes of greed. He said, ‘Look, here’s what happened’.” Commercial television had not been invented and Hoover, not Roosevelt, was president.
Palin’s recollections of American History 101 are no less spotted, stating she believed in the inherent right of privacy in the Constitution, before she learned it was the cornerstone of the Roe v. Wade decision.
For his part, McCain deflected attention from his running mate with a vicious ad line up. He called it retribution for Obama’s reluctance to face him in a town hall forum. The debate that followed was an uncomfortable affair of faux folksy-ism and stump speeches. The awkwardness reached a peak when he referred to Obama as ‘that one’.
In the closing weekend Palin made a crippling mistake. The vice president hopeful entertained a Montreal DJ who impersonated French President Nicolas Sarkozy. In the now infamous phone call, Palin agreed on several embarrassing inaccuracies such that singer Steph Carse is the Canadian Prime Minister, Belgium is visible from Paris, and Hustler’s “Nailin’ Palin” is a flattering documentary. Worse, the real Sarkozy doesn’t even speak fluent English.
The campaign tapered off with tempered speeches. McCain delivered a graceful concession which Obama accepted in comparable style.