Gaffes of the Recent Past and Near Future

May 8, 2008:

"It is wonderful to be back in Oregon," Obama said. "Over the last 15 months, we’ve traveled to every corner of the United States. I’ve now been in 57 states? I think one left to go. Alaska and Hawaii, I was not allowed to go to even though I really wanted to visit, but my staff would not justify it."

July 16, 2008:
In a townhall meeting held Tuesday in Albuquerque, N.M., John McCain mistakenly referred to current events in Czechoslovakia, a country that ceased to exist in 1993 after separating into the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

May 19, 2008:
Obama conceded that he has a steep challenge to get his message and background to voters in states such as Kentucky …

“What it says is that I’m not very well known in that part of the country,” Obama said. “Sen. Clinton, I think, is much better known — not only because of her time in the White House with her husband — but also coming from a nearby state of Arkansas.”

[Obama comes from Illinois, which, unlike Arkansas, shares a border with Kentucky.]


July 21, 2008:
Asked on ABC's "Good Morning America" about the situation in Afghanistan -- where both presidential candidates call for sending more US troops to take on the resurgent Taliban and root out al Qaeda, McCain replied.

"I think it's serious. . . . It's a serious situation, but there's a lot of things we need to do. We have a lot of work to do and I'm afraid it's a very hard struggle, particularly given the situation on the Iraq/Pakistan border."

Iraq and Pakistan do not share a border; it is the Afghanistan/Pakistan border where intelligence officials believe remnants of al Qaeda are rebuilding.


July 26, 2008:
Barack Obama visited with Austria's Chancellor, Alfred Gusenbauer, in Vienna this afternoon to wind up his European tour. In remarks to the press afterward, Senator Obama noted that Austria had not been on his original schedule. "But I've always wanted to take the wife and kids to the Outback and see kangaroos and koalas in the wild. I'm told that it doesn't look like we'll have time for that on this trip. Maybe next year."

August 8, 2008:
At a Town Hall meeting in Derry, New Hampshire, John McCain reaffirmed his recent commitment to secure America's borders. "I don't need to tell Granite Staters about that. You've been in the forefront, struggling under the burdens of tens of thousands of unwanted immigrants from Vermont every year, many of whom can't be bothered to learn even basic English. As President, I'll provide New Hampshire with the help it needs to seal off that border."

While a number of attendees appeared puzzled, most cheered enthusiastically at the proposed policy.


August 29, 2008:
Amid the whoops and applause of tens of thousands at Denver's Invesco Field, Senator Obama departed from his prepared acceptance speech to note the unexpectedly breezy weather: "Colorado really is, as they say in the song, where the wind comes sweepin' down the plain." The audience lapsed into a sudden stunned silence …

September 22, 2008:
The McCain campaign denied persistent rumors that Alex Trebek and the Jeopardy "Clue Crew" had been hired to help the candidate brush up on his geographical knowledge. Speaking on conditions of anonymity, a source close to the campaign said "Mr. Trebek is acting as a consultant only on the categories of 'Potent Potables' and 'Rhyme Time'."

October 15, 2008:
[Presidential Debate Transcript, Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio.]

McCain: North Korea continues to develop nuclear weapons in secret. As president, I will work with the leaders of the neighboring countries of Japan, Cambodia, Botswana, and Alaska to ramp up pressure on Kim Il-sung to open his facilities to inspection.

Obama: Senator, I don't think Alaska is technically a country. I'm pretty sure it's one of our states. We have a lot of them.

McCain: Right, I misspoke. I meant Albania.

Obama: No, that's a state too. Ever heard of Selma, Albania? I gave a speech there last week.

Katie Couric: Maybe Mongolia? Like in Risk?


January 20, 2009:
Constitutional scholars this afternoon debated the impact of the president-elect's failure to appear at his own inauguration ceremony. Due to a series of events his aides characterized as "an inartful misunderstanding", he found himself in the small community of Washington, Maine, about 25 miles east of the state capital of Augusta. Frantic arrangements are being made for air transportation to Washington, D. C. as soon as possible.

A spokeswoman close to the president-elect, who requested anonymity, stated: "He kept saying 'I know it's around here somewhere.' And I kept saying, why don't you just stop and ask someone for directions. But he's, like, the big know-it-all boss, Mr. Gonna-be-Commander-in-Chief, and he's driving, so what are you going to do?"

[Update: many thanks to Shawn at AmSpecBlog for the link. Please feel free to look around but keep hands and feet inside the vehicle at all times.]

Last Modified 2008-07-28 1:37 PM EDT

The Spiderwick Chronicles

[Amazon Link] [3.5
stars] [IMDb Link]

This is billed as being for kids, and is rated PG, but I thought it was pretty scary. Nick Nolte's in it, and I think that should be an automatic PG-13 right there.

Summary: The Grace family is on the verge of breakdown: Dad's dumped Mom, who's at her wits' end, and the kids (a daughter and two twin brothers) are in nonstop bicker mode. So—naturally enough—they move into an old house, remote from anywhere, that once belonged to great-uncle Arthur Spiderwick, who mysteriously went missing eighty years back. Soon enough, noises are heard behind the walls, small items inexplicably vanish, and secret passages are discovered. It turns out they've moved into sort of a locus where the border between the fantastical world and ours is thin indeed.

Moral: being humanity's only hope against its imminent destruction by evil ogres is pretty good family therapy. Pay attention, Dr. Phil!

Everyone in this is good, especially the amazing Freddie Highmore, who plays the twins. Special effects are great, and the script is funny and scary. You don't have to actually have kids watching it with you to have a good time.


Last Modified 2012-10-11 3:52 PM EDT