Dumb Question

I noticed the following headline at Memeoradum this morning:  Who is Dumber, Joe Biden or Barack Obama?  The link was to Powerline, and I was curious as to the basis for the query.  I expected something more than what I found.

The example for Biden:

one of Biden’s most famous moments of stupidity, when Biden declaimed on the “three-letter word: J-O-B-S.”

Hinderaker then notes a video (you can see it at the link) wherein Obama makes a reference to “three little words” and then quotes “made in the USA” which, clearly, is not a formulation made of three words.

One suspects, and it doesn’t take much charity to do so, that Obama was thinking “Made in America” as the three words in question, and yet the synonymous phrase “the USA” came out.

I find this kind of stuff increasingly silly and annoying.  We are not talking here about an actual inability to count, but rather what amounts to verbal typos.  As one who speaks for a living, I make of lot of those (and, likewise, make more than my share of the typed type as well).

Of course, Hinderaker makes it worse by going beyond just pretending like these are examples of potential ignorance, and makes it to passing “analysis”:

Maybe such blunders are insignificant. Then again, maybe they aren’t. If you can’t count to four, or keep track of the difference between 50 and 57 states, maybe that helps to explain why you don’t understand the significance of a $16 trillion debt. In a world where numbers are all just a fog, what’s the difference?

Yes, I am sure that that is what the problem is.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2012, Quick Takes, US Politics
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. bill says:

    if politicians didn’t misspeak it would be a very boring life for us, i didn’t see a link at the site so maybe obama didn’t have a teleprompter?

  2. I love the teleprompter gags, makes it so easy to tag imbeciles.

  3. Fiona says:

    Man, that teleprompter meme just never gets old for you “conservatives,” does it?

    The reason Hinderaker and his ilk resort to these attacks is that they’ve got nothing else. Yesterday, their candidate refused to specify even one loophole he’d eliminate and endorsed elements of Obamacare. When you’ve got nothing yourself and cannot make a positive case for your guy, you resort to idiotic insults.

  4. JoshB says:

    They are absolutely convinced that Obama is an absolute idiot that only got where he is due to affirmative action. That’s why they always ask to see the college transcripts. I’m not saying they are all straight up racist (although there are plenty that are), but there is absolutely a racial element to a good part of their criticisms.

  5. Must be a slow news day, with Biden and the biker chick still up near top (via memeorandum)

  6. In keeping with this being a “what’s up with memeorandum” thread … someone in the comments called this one:

    Within Hours, Mitt Romney Takes Back Everything He Said About Preexisting Conditions

    Poor guy can’t catch a break.

  7. gVOR08 says:

    Hinderaker should be celebrating. They’ve had to make do with nothing but the 57 state thing. Now, after four years in the spotlight, they finally have a second misstatement to work with. That should prove the sherriff is a n-. Never mind.

  8. cd6 says:

    Hindrocket is a noted judge of intellect, as shown by his most famous quote:

    It must be very strange to be President Bush. A man of extraordinary vision and brilliance approaching to genius, he can’t get anyone to notice. He is like a great painter or musician who is ahead of his time, and who unveils one masterpiece after another to a reception that, when not bored, is hostile.

  9. Perspecticus says:

    I’m mostly curious if Mr. Taylor deliberately left in all of his typos in the post- for effect or some such- or if he just hasn’t had the time to clean up the piece yet?

  10. James Joyner says:

    I was just going to post on this myself when I saw you beat me to it. Yes, it’s incredibly silly. Further, one wonders who it is that’s interested enough in politics to spend their time reading blogs that actually thinks any of the four people on the two national tickets this year are dumb.

  11. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Who is Dumber, Joe Biden or Barack Obama?

    Easy… Hinderaker.

  12. James Joyner says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: That was going to be my post headline: “Who’s dumber: Joe Biden, Barack Obama, or John Hinderaker?” Not that I think Hinderaker isn’t rather bright; but he writes as if his audience isn’t.

  13. @James Joyner:

    It’s hard to gauge how smart Mr. Romney is, when the poor guy is absolutely terrified of saying anything substantial.

  14. When Mr. Romney said:

    “Well, the specifics are these which is those principles I described are the heart of my policy.”

    It wasn’t because he was dumb, it was just that he had to start and stop a few times to prevent saying anything.

  15. @Perspecticus:

    I’m mostly curious if Mr. Taylor deliberately left in all of his typos in the post- for effect or some such- or if he just hasn’t had the time to clean up the piece yet?

    The latter. It did occur to me as I was driving to work that I almost certainly made some errors, and that in this one case it could be interpreted as a bit of performance art rather than what is always is: me seeing what I want to see when I type as opposed to what I actually typed.

    I would assert that not enough sleep and blogging quickly while waiting for the children to get ready to leave for school is a good excuse for typos, except that I can be fully rested and be without distraction and still make plenty of errors.

  16. @James Joyner:

    one wonders who it is that’s interested enough in politics to spend their time reading blogs that actually thinks any of the four people on the two national tickets this year are dumb.

    Indeed.

    It is just politics-as-sport stuff.

    (And, amusingly, Alinskyesque: didn’t he preach ridicule as a political tool?)

  17. @James Joyner:

    Not that I think Hinderaker isn’t rather bright; but he writes as if his audience isn’t.

    And this is the problem. Too much commentary is written in this way. it is talk radio in print form–and too much of “conservative” commentary in general is in this format at the moment.

  18. mantis says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    (And, amusingly, Alinskyesque: didn’t he preach ridicule as a political tool?)

    Drink!

  19. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @James Joyner: Great minds think alike…. or something like that 😉

    @john personna:

    “Well, the specifics are these which is those principles I described are the heart of my policy.”

    Sarah Palin writes his talking points.

  20. rodney dill says:

    I’ve worked with engineers and computer scientists most of my career, so I’m well past equating speaking ability with intelligence. Some, of course, can be quite eloquent, but there are a lot of bright people out there without much ability for public speaking

  21. Perspecticus says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: I assumed as much, but I also miss sub-text on a regular basis so I wanted to be sure.

  22. sam says:

    Show of hands? How many folks recall that John Hindracker used to style himself Hindrocket on Powerline until the jokes got to be just too, too much? How’s that for dumb?

  23. muffler says:

    I stopped reading articles that have a question as a headline. It’s a set up to pontificate an opinion. Depending on the source (blue or red) the resulting article is predicable. I much prefer journalism.

  24. Nikki says:

    Not that I think Hinderaker isn’t rather bright; but he writes as if his audience isn’t.

    Oh, c’mon, James, he *knows* his audience isn’t very bright. Have you read the comments section at Powerline, Hot Air, Weasel Zippers, Wizbang, Gateway Pundit, PJ Tatler or The Hill to name but a few? They all seem to be writing for the wits at Yahoo News.

  25. Franklin says:

    I admit, I sometimes fell for crap like this in the past, like when McCain would mix up Sunni’s and Shia’s. Hopefully I’ve gotten past that infantile stage by now …

    But as far as I can tell, this sort of stuff is always gonna be used when you’re merely rooting for one team rather than actually considering the real issues. And it’s much easier to do the former, so a lot of people are going to do that, and these “arguments” will work on them.

  26. Jim Treacher says:

    Gaffes are only significant when Republicans make them.

  27. mantis says:

    I’m going to give the “dumbest” award to Treacher. He’s earned it.

  28. An Interested Party says:

    Gaffes are only significant when Republicans make them.

    And Republicans are always victims whenever they are criticized…

  29. Dazedandconfused says:

    Listened to some Dennis Miller today. He was going full-birther while fluffing Corsi. Then, he started getting really silly, cited the bravery of our vets as an example for “whiners” like Fluke, who he said was an example for a larger point, that we have become a “nation of Flukes”. The irony of that is almost too funny to laugh at.

    The RW “bubble” is getting intense and extra weird. Dennis used to be sane, and not all that long ago.