I want to thank columnist Dana Milbank for giving me this column. It’s kind of a “back-atcha.”
Milbank is a columnist I like, even though he’s a lefty. A few weeks ago he wrote a humorous piece poking fun at Mitt Romney and mentioning some of the “gaffes” Mitt has made.
He joked that, if elected, Romney would be more fun to write about than Obama because Romney keeps making gaffes. Milbank wrote, “President Obama has many talents, but he is not good copy. He speaks grammatically, in fully formed paragraphs.”
“Come on, Dana,” I thought. “You’re really stretching it. If you can’t write funny columns about the prez, you’re not trying. It would be a piece of cake.”
Personally, I find it easier to find gaffes that Obama has made than finding Mitt flub-ups. Consider the following seven quickie examples of Obama-izms.
1)”Let me be absolutely clear. Israel is a strong friend of Israel’s.” 2) “I’ve now been in 57 states; I think one left to go.” 3) “On this Memorial Day, as our nation honors its unbroken line of fallen heroes, and I see many of them in the audience here today.” 4) “I don’t know what the term is in Austrian.”
5) “I have made good judgments in the past. I have made good judgments in the future.” 6) “The reforms we seek would bring greater competition, choice, savings and inefficiencies to our health care system.” 7) “I bowled a 129. It’s like — it was like the Special Olympics, or something.”
As for the idea that the president always speaks grammatically, in fully formed paragraphs, that’s only when he’s on the teleprompter. He can be a hoot when he isn’t reading. I offer the following unscripted moment from his first campaign for your perusal.
“What they’ll say is, ‘Well, it costs too much money,’ but you know what? It would cost, about. It. It. It would cost about the same as what we would spend. It. Over the course of 10 years it would cost what it would costs us” (nervous laugh).
“All right. OK. We’re going to. It. It would cost us about the same as it would cost for about, hold on one second. I can’t hear myself. But I’m glad you’re fired up, though. I’m glad.”
I could go on; there’s new stuff regularly. But I’d rather bring up one of the alleged Romney gaffes that’s often mentioned. I’m referring to Romney’s statement to a heckler that, “Corporations are people, my friend.” I think this touches on an important point. Because, for all practical reasons, Romney’s right.
I remember watching the news reporting of that confrontation and seeing the frustrated look on Romney’s face as he tried to explain it to protesters who had no interest in considering what was said.
“Of course they are,” Romney argued. “Everything corporations earn ultimately goes to the people. Where do you think it goes? Whose pockets? People’s pockets. Human beings, my friend.”
Starting in 1819 the Supreme Court has increasingly given corporations rights and privileges once reserved for members of the human race. “Corporate personhood” is now written into the U.S. Code.
But it goes beyond simple legality. It is a concept that must be grasped if one is to avoid unintended consequences from taxation and regulation. It is often said that “You can’t tax a corporation since such taxing simply trickles down to the consumers.” That may be a bummer, but it’s so.
Mitt’s problem may be that he doesn’t realize how little some of his critics know. Or that a campaign is a dreadful venue for teaching. Because during a campaign, gaffes are more popular print material than insights are.
Former Elkhart furniture store owner Richard Leib has served on planning committees in several industries. An avid auto fan, he raced in the 1972 coast-to-coast Cannonball Run. He has written on a wide range of subjects.