Covering Up Obama's Gaffes

Barack Obama may not be as smart as the White House wants us to believe.

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President Barack Obama, left, talks with Jay Leno during a commercial break during the taping of his appearance on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” in Los Angeles, Tuesday, Aug. 6, 2013.
President Barack Obama, left, talks with Jay Leno during a commercial break during the taping of his appearance on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” in Los Angeles, Tuesday, Aug. 6, 2013.

He did it so subtly that you may have missed it, but President Barack Obama announced the biggest public works project ever undertaken by this or any other country during his recent appearance on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno."

Speaking about needing to find ways to pay to "fix our bridges, fix our roads, sewer systems, our ports," the president said, "If we don't deepen our ports all along the Gulf – places like Charleston, South Carolina, or Savannah, Georgia, or Jacksonville, Florida – if we don't do that, those ships are going to go someplace else," causing America to lose jobs.

That's right. The president apparently has an ambitious plan to move the cities of Charleston, Savannah, and Jacksonville – which are now all located on the Atlantic Coast – to points somewhere on the Gulf of Mexico.

[Check out our editorial cartoons on President Obama.]

Not really. The president, obviously, misspoke – as he often does. Remember how, in the 2008 presidential campaign he talked about all "57 states." Or when, during the health care debate, he promised America that if they liked what they had they "could keep it." Okay, that may not have been a misstatement as much as it was a fabrication but, like his immediate predecessor, he does have a habit of getting simple things wrong. Unlike George W. Bush, however, who tried to turn his tendency to mangle words and phrases into an advantage by poking fun at himself, the president and his friends try to cover it up.

Don't believe it? Well, on Friday, the Associated Press admitted that it had inserted what it called "an interpretive phrase in parentheses" into its reporting of what Obama had said, changing the quote to read, "If we don't deepen our ports all along the Gulf – (and in) places like Charleston, S.C., or Savannah, Ga., or Jacksonville, Fla.," like he hadn't made a mistake.

The White House and the media's extraordinary sensitivity to the president's habit of occasionally getting it wrong reflect enormous insecurity about the brain power of the nation's current chief executive. They wave his academic credentials around – Occidental College, Columbia University and Harvard Law School – because they are impressive and make him seem smart, while the refusal to release his transcripts suggests they have something to hide.

[See a collection of editorial cartoons on Benghazi.]

So what if Barack Obama isn't the smartest man on the planet? It conflicts with the "rock star" image projected by his campaign in 2008 that propelled him into the White House, but he's also human. He, like everyone else, makes mistakes. He doesn't have to be the smartest guy in the room to be a successful president and it might even be better if he wasn't.

The only reason he has to have all the answers is if he represents a political movement that rests on the idea that government has all the answers too. In that calculation, if Obama could be wrong then government could be wrong – and that's just not helpful if you are trying to transform America into some kind of European social welfare state.

It is true that the liberals who over-populate the entertainment industry and establishment journalism used up barrels of ink and miles of tape making Republicans like Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, Dan Quayle and George W. Bush seem like simpering idiots or clumsy buffoons. Saul Alinksy did, after all, teach that ridicule is a powerful weapon. But that's no excuse to bend the truth where Barack Obama is concerned. If anything, it only serves to reinforce the image that he may not be as smart as they want us to believe every time he gets caught in a gaffe.

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