Obama’s fast becoming nearly as famous for gaffes as Yogi Berra. But Berra’s often made sense; Obama’s never do.
That said, not all of Obama’s errors are created equal. Some fall into the category of slips of the tongue—after all, even his enemies don’t really think Obama believes there are 57 states.
Obama’s most recent error—which concentration camp his uncle (actually, great-uncle) helped liberate—has been blown way out of proportion. As soon as I heard the story, I was nearly certain it was basically true but that he’d gotten the camp wrong.
This is not a case of “lying,” as some have charged, nor of course did Obama’s uncle serve in the Russian Army, as some tongues-in-cheek have suggested. But still, the mistake is a bit more disturbing than his “Heinz 57 states” error. The latter was a slip of the tongue. The former was a sloppy case of ignorance of a detail of history, Obama relying on his memory rather than fact-checking.
That’s something with which I’m familiar, since it’s a common hazard of blogging. Time and again I find that I think I know a fact, but some little bell goes off and tells me to check it just in case. When I do I sometimes discover I’m slightly off. That experience has made me very careful about fact-checking, even though I’m often in a hurry.
But I’m not a Presidential candidate making a speech, and I don’t have an army of aides to help me. Obama’s excuse? Many of his errors seem to be a combination of arrogance, laziness, and incompetent staff. Not a good sign for a future Obama Presidency.
Obama is also guilty of a much worse variety of error, however. Which concentration camps were liberated by which forces in WWII is somewhat of a historic detail. Although important at the time it happened, it’s not really something we’d expect a candidate to know at this point (trust the trusty internet, though, to bring out the history buffs almost immediately to correct him).
More disturbing was Obama’s assertion that Hillary won Kentucky because it’s close to Arkansas. Forget about his home state of Illinois, which borders on it! This is a level of ignorance that’s much more astonishing and troubling. But even worse was his recent statement, gone virtually unnoticed by the MSM (shhh, don’t let on that the emperor has no clothes!), that Bush was responsible for the “vacuum” that paved the way for Chavez to become leader of Venezuela.
The latter error was egregious and shocking. It’s an elementary fact that Chavez came to power in 1998, and if a blogger had made an error like that he/she would have been excoriated. This is no nit-picky detail, either, nor is it ancient history. It’s basic to Obama’s knowledge of the region and to the point of his speech in critiquing Bush.
What’s worse, the error is part of a pattern of ignorance of history. It’s beginning to seem that this ignorance is a reflection of a naive and arrogant assumption on the part of Obama that it’s not necessary to know much about it.
Francis Fukuyama has been criticized for positing that we’re witnessing “the end of history.” But he might be proven correct after all, if Obama gets elected.