Monday, June 21, 2010


Steve Benen cites a good point from Rahm Emmanuel’s interview on ABC’s This Week: when Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX) apologized to BP for the “shakedown” by the White House, it wasn’t a political gaffe. Mr. Barton meant every word of it.

That is a philosophy. That is an approach to what they see. They see the aggrieved party here as BP, not the fishermen.

The fact that Mr. Barton was threatened with the loss of his position on the committee if he didn’t retract and apologize for his apology only means that the Republican leadership saw that such an unpolished and heartfelt pronouncement of the party’s true feelings was poorly timed and badly phrased. This is what’s knows as a Kinsley gaffe, named after Michael Kinsley who dubbed a “gaffe in Washington” occurs when someone accidentally tells the truth or says something that they really believe but know to be politically incorrect.

It forced all the designated party talking heads on the Sunday chat shows to run away from him as if he had farted in church. But it wasn’t because they don’t agree with the sentiment and the philosophy that corporations — even foreign ones — have more power and are due more respect than the government of the United States, especially when it is has a Democrat in the White House.

As Steve notes, Mr. Barton only the latest in recent times to do this. Rand Paul doesn’t believe people should be banned from smoking in restaurants because it’s their God-given right to poison the air for everyone else, including babies and people with respiratory illnesses. Sharron Angle thinks Harry Reid needs a “Second Amendment solution.” George Allen really thinks American citizens of Indian heritage are called Macaca, and Michele Bachmann thinks members of Congress should be investigated for being un-American. There’s no doubt they all believed what they said, but then caved into pressure from their party handlers because of the political damage they were causing… all the while complaining about having to conform to political correctness because they can’t say what they really think.

PS: The title is a bit of referential humor for you sailors out there.