Saturday, April 21, 2012

An Unwasted Gaffe

"You never want a serious crisis to go to waste."*

In a question and answer session during President Obama's appearance at the Summit of the America's in Cartagena, Columbia, Mr. Obama somehow referred to The Falklands, a British-ruled group of islands off the coast of Argentina, as "The Maldives." He apparently intended to say "Las Malvinas," the name preferred by Argentina, who lays claim and invaded in 1982. It seems an amazing mistake as the islands were the scene of a nasty little war that killed a thousand people, and in which we were decidedly not neutral. The misstatement prompted me to look up just where the hell the Maldives are.

Sunset in the Maldives
Well, The Republic of Maldives (according to Wiki) is a series of coral atolls in the Indian Ocean. With a population of around a hundred thousand, it is noted for having the lowest highest (not a typo, thank you very much) elevation in the world - a touch under eight feet. As one might expect, even the theoretical possibility of the oceans rising has their undivided attention. Fishing and tourism drive their economic engine. Pictures, I'm sure, don't do it justice.

Of course, while the mainstream media largely ignored the misstatement, or labeled it "more akin to those of his predecessor," right wing punditry had a field day. Powerline's John Hinderaker was perhaps the most restrained, allowing that we have become used to the President's factual carelessness once he deviates from a prepared text.

Mark Steyn, as usual, was not similarly enjoined. He launched into a dyspeptic rant about, among other things, the quality of speechwriting from Obama's staff. Since this nugget was immersed in a column otherwise dedicated to the failings of the Secret Service (mostly involving the ill-timed contract dispute between a personal services provider and her...Secret Service customer) I assume it was a throw-away.  Nevertheless, Mr. Steyn once again swung the broadsword of his remarkable wit haphazardly, slicing into a group of people who must have gasped along with the rest of us.

His is but one example of overreaching from the right. Yes, it makes me laugh (I'm not much of a fan of the man from Chicago...Hawaii...Indonesia. Never mind). Come November, Mr. Obama's contract is up for renewal. Somebody ought to get their facts straight before we decide whether to rehire him and his teleprompter.

Maybe that somebody should be those of us who don't think an Obama encore is warranted.

*Rahm Emanuel, former White House Chief of Staff, The Wall Street Journal conference, November 2008.

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