Gaffes and one-liners - are they really that important?

The President has offended Poland;
although you may not have heard about it

I have an almost unequalled ability to say the wrong thing.

As someone who talks a lot, you can rest assured that sooner or later I'll say something completely inappropriate.

This often stems from the fact that little one-liners sound much funnier inside my head than they do actually coming out of my mouth.

As such, I’m no stranger to those moments where everybody stops what they’re doing, falls deafeningly silent and stares at someone who’s just uttered a comment that forces everyone to say under their breath “did he really just say that?”

The thing is, I’m a fairly affable guy so I usually get away with it.

Because people are so used to my gaffes and inopportune statements they now simply, for the most part, shrug it off.

One of my friends, Jonathan, for example, will shake his head, smile, and say: “oh Dylo…” at least three times per encounter.

Thankfully, I’m not the only person alive who suffers from gaffes.  Former USA President George W Bush was famous for it.

In fact, his gaffes made him quite famous because the media simply did not leave that man alone.  You could bet your bottom dollar on the fact that, if President Bush uttered something that was even vaguely ‘dodgy’, the media would replay it ad nauseum on the evening news.

However, some people seem to escape the same all-encompassing international glare when it comes to making gaffes.  Even ones, it seems, which cause minor international grievances.

For example, current President of the United States, Barack Obama, during a ceremony to recognise a holocaust survivor, uttered the phrase “Polish Death Camps”.

Now, any half reasonably-minded chap will immediately recognise this as a slip of the tongue.  Of course he didn’t mean to say that!

That didn’t stop the Poles, even in the middle of the night, from raising a little hell and demanding the President apologise.  After all, Nazi/Polish stuff is still a pretty damn sensitive issue.

The problem is, it’s an election year.  And you can’t show weakness or admit mistakes in an election year!

Obama’s team has refused to apologise, simply brushing it off as a slip of the tongue.

Firstly, I reckon that’s a little petulant.  He should just apologise and get it over with.  Seriously, I hardly think it will make much difference to his re-electability.1

Secondly, this gaffe, while minor in the grand scheme of things2, has largely been glossed over by the world’s media.

Where, for example, is The Guardian’s ridicule of this event in the way they ridiculed George W Bush?  Where’s Australian media’s pickup of this?  Where’s the New York Times?3

At first glance, it appears different standards are implemented for one President compared to another.

I reckon that this gaffe by Obama is hardly worth mentioning (although the reaction from Poland is something worth addressing).

However, if international media are not going to ridicule this slip of the tongue, they should think carefully about reporting George W Bush’s next one-liner or Sarah Palin’s next one-liner.

After all, everyone makes mistakes and has slips of the tongue.

Especially me!


1. Yes, I know I just made up that word.  Sue me.
2. With Greece about to implode, Iran about to explode, and famine in Africa, surely there are more important things to worry about
3. All the above publications have written about this story, but have approached it merely ‘factually’ rather than use sarcasm, pathos and other so-called humorous methods to ridicule the gaffe-maker, a la Palin and Bush