Fat new targets for the Gaffe Patrol
The Gaffe Patrol is on the job this week in Charlotte. Bob Schieffer of CBS News, a wing commander who does not ordinarily fly combat missions, got the first kill at the Democratic National Convention. When Gov. Martin O’Malley of Maryland inadvertently committed a gaffe – defined as a politician unexpectedly blurting the truth – he suddenly flew into Mr. Schieffer’s gunsights.
“Can you honestly say,” the Face the Nation host asked the governor, “that people are better off today than they were four years ago?”
“No,” Mr. O’Malley replied, “but, uh, that’s not the question of this election. The question, without a doubt, we are not as well off as we were before George Bush brought us . . .” Blah, blah, blah . . .
Mr. Schieffer interrupted him with a reminder as unexpected as a burst of gunfire through the propeller of the Sopwith Camel that is the favorite pursuit plane of the Gaffe Patrol: “George Bush is not on the ballot.”
The governor apparently bailed out as his own plane went down somewhere over the Eastern Shore. He was not injured, and the next morning he was back on the air with “context” and a “clarification.” Everybody is “clearly better off,” he said, but what he meant was that Americans “have not recovered all that we lost in the Bush recession.”
What is actually clear is that this is the question that terrifies Barack Obama and his campaign. This is the question famously posed by Ronald Reagan in 1980 in his final debate with Jimmy Carter, and the question destroyed the peanut farmer from Plains. Mr. Carter, the president who President Obama so closely resembles, had no answer. The Obama campaign has no answer now.
The best they can come up with is that the question is not the question, and besides, it’s all George W. Bush’s fault. Joe Biden tried this Monday in Detroit, and said he could recite a lot of good things Mr. Obama has done “if it weren’t so hot.”
The president and his faithful minions must move earth (heaven can wait) to prevent consideration of the question. They could expand their campaign against George W. FDR and the Democrats, even as late as Harry Truman, similarly campaigned against Herbert Hoover. ...