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April 15, 2008

How many “gaffes” equal incompetence?
Posted by Moira Whelan

John McCain screwed up on Foreign Policy 101 AGAIN. Yesterday at the AP annual meeting, McCain said he would defer any decision to General Petraeus over whether troops should be shifted from Iraq to Afghanistan in order to intensify the search for Osama bin Laden. Only problem is that this is not Petraeus’s job, as he has stated before.

By my count, this makes 6 times this month that McCain has screwed up basic foreign policy facts…the other 5 being various conflations of who exactly is fighting in Iraq.

As Hertzberg says today: It’s easy to say one word when you mean to say another, nearly identical word, but it’s impossible to repeatedly misspeak an entire anecdote—or, as in McCain’s case, an entire strategic reality.

Couple that with remarks made by leading conservative thinkers in the New York Times last week. They claim that McCain “is not as fully formed on his foreign policy as his campaign advisers say he is, and that while he speaks authoritatively, he operates too much off the cuff and has not done the deeper homework required of a presidential candidate.”

This is not deep homework, and has nothing to do with running for President. For John McCain to make this many mistakes while holding an important national security post as Ranking Member of the Armed Services Committee is simply unacceptable. These types of mistakes would prevent John McCain from getting a job as a research assistant at any think tank in DC, let alone delivering anything resembling a responsible foreign policy as president.

The brilliant minds of the punditry seem content to ignore this pattern or question it in any way, despite the fact that McCain is repeatedly screwing up the very platform upon which he claims to run. I’m all for having a healthy conversation about why McCain makes these mistakes, but the first step is admitting that it is wrong, irresponsible, and unacceptable. It is the "job" after all of talking heads to hold our leaders accountable. This is much more than a “gaffe.” This is demonstrated and repeated incompetent behavior that has very real consequences.

I, for one, am pretty bitter that it's not getting any airtime.


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Gaffe-gating does us no good. Clinton goofed; McCain goofs. Frankly, most of the Congress is incompetent by the standard you've set here. What matters is what war policies they are advocating. That's what we should be debating.

When I saw the headline ("How Many 'Gaffes' Equal Incompetence?"), I though this post was going to be about Obama.

Well if you talking about Obama so far he has just one. The one about small town PA folks. And even then his basic idea was true he just could have said it alot better toward the end. The beginning of his speech was right on point. He screwed up the last paragraph. But I must say it was definitely a mistake the way he phrased it. Other then that you have no other evidence.

I would call the typical white person a gaft but he would also be referring in part to himself. Keep in mind in both instances he was being ask specfic questions unlike McCain who was speaking from pre-prepared remarks.

Plus a foreign policy screw up can get people killed if made in the wrong situations like in tense negotiations. Plus the fact that he is a 70 something plus year old veteran makes it that much worse. If you still making those kinds of mistakes less then 30 years from being a centarian it is not very likely you going to expand very much on your current pool of knowledge.

It still seems that the mainstream media is still worshipping John McCain and treating him like a foreign policy expert just because he served so many years in the senate. I personally believe that the mainstream media has become content with the Bush status quo in foreign policy that it assumes that Obama's foreign policy is just naive. Second it seems to me that the mainstream media and the political class is just paying attention to one type of voter, who just votes on cultural issues, while ignoring those who truely want to be informed before going into the voting booth.

McCain's incompetence doesn't fit the 'narrative'. It will be hard for Democrats to make it stick, no matter how many facts support it.

Kevin Drum has a pretty good round-up of the reasons why Obama's San Francisco remarks are clearly untrue. To start with, Americans have for generations owned guns and gone to church in good times and bad.

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