There are bloopers and then there are tactless bloopers. I'm sure most people can remember at least a few of former President Bush's bloopers from his eight years in office. According to Wikipedia, on August 5, 2004, he famously explained the difference between his administration and the terrorists, "Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we." At Florence, South Carolina, on January 11, 2000, he commented, "Rarely is the question asked: Is our children learning?"
One of his most famous quotes, however, came at a stop in Bentonville, Arkansas, on November 6, 2000, "They misunderestimated me." This quote would later prompt Robin Williams to reply, "No, not really."
Perhaps the best-ever blooper by the former president was his tortured try at a famous Star Trek quote delivered by Scotty: "On Earth, we have a saying: Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me." But when Bush tried his hand at the quote, at Nashville, Tennessee, on September 17, 2002, "this is what he actually said, "There's an old saying in Tennessee -- I know it's in Texas, probably in Tennessee -- that says, 'Fool me once, shame on, shame on you. Fool me -- you can't get fooled again.'"
There are many runner-ups to the above examples, but I'm sure you get the message. Former President Bush seemed to have the knack to slice and dice the English language in ways that I hadn't seen since the days of Secretary of State Alexander Haig. "We didn't lose Vietnam. We quit Vietnam" ... or "The warning message we sent the Russians was a calculated ambiguity that would be clearly understood."
But tactless gaffes require another whole level of oops. Not only does the quote have to be as twisted as a pretzel, it has to show the speaker in a negative way, not just grammatically tortured, but in a way that gives the impression of someone who promotes bad policy. Earlier this year, during a speech given in New Hampshire, Romney said, "I like being able to fire people who provide services to me." For the vast majority of people who have never been in a position to fire someone, this quote sounded more like the boasting of malevolent boss than the assurance of a candidate who can separate wheat from chaff.
But that wasn't the only instance where Governor Romney presented himself in a less than favorable light. In a December 2011 Republican debate, Texas Governor, Rick Perry stated that Romney had been for the individual mandate as a governor, to which Romney challenged him by extending his hand and wagering $10,000 on the veracity of the accusation. Again, the vast majority of Americans will probably never be able to make such a hefty bet, or even come close, and it painted Romney as a rich, eccentric individual who has trouble differentiating between casino gambling and politicking.
Even when Romney went overseas to demonstrate his foreign expertise, he wound up insulting the entire British people. As the Huffington Post reported, "The stories about the private security firm not having enough people, the supposed strike of the immigration and customs officials -- that obviously is not something which is encouraging." Romney said during an interview with NBC News that aired on Wednesday evening, that he found some of these potential issues "disconcerting."
As the article went on, "British Prime Minister David Cameron hit back at Romney's remarks on Thursday, taking a shot at the former governor's leadership during the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics. 'We are holding an Olympic Games in one of the busiest, most active, bustling cities anywhere in the world,' Cameron said. 'Of course, it's easier if you hold an Olympic Games in the middle of nowhere.'"
Governor Romney would later state during that trip that Palestinians were somehow inferior culturally to the Israelis. According to Reuters, "he said Israel's GDP per capita was $21,000, while for Palestinians it was $10,000, and called it "a dramatic, stark difference in economic vitality." Later in that speech, "[he] went on to say at the event where he reportedly raised more than $1 million for his campaign, that "if you could learn anything from the economic history of the world it's this: culture makes all the difference.... I recognize the hand of providence in selecting this place."
Needless to say, the entire Muslim and Arab world were in an uproar.
If this is any indication of what a Romney presidency would look like, we can only anticipate more unfortunate miscues reminiscent of the famous one by President Jimmy Carter's personal interpreter when addressing the Polish people in Warsaw in 1977. By using a rather underwhelming interpreter to translate his speeches, the gaffes came out fast and furious. "I have come to learn your opinions and understand your desires for the future," was translated as, "I desire the Poles carnally." When he spoke of leaving Washington DC on his trip, the interpreter told the Poles, "I have left the United States never to return."
I don't know if the Poles have ever forgiven us for that.