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When is a Gaffe Not a Gaffe? When Obama Repeats it Over and Over

John on July 8, 2011 at 8:40 am

That silly gaffe that I discovered a few days ago turns out to have been one of as many as half-a-dozen occasions where the President told the same story and made the same error. Here he is giving a commencement speech at the University of Michigan on May 1, 2010:

Reuters reported on the speech including the bit about the “intercontinental railroad”, but apparently no one caught the gaffe. Of course it was a transcontinental railroad, not an intercontinental one.

Obama made the same mistake again at a March 2011 fundraiser for Sen. Nelson. Politico reported the quote but, like Reuters, somehow missed the gaffe:

“My favorite Republican, Abraham Lincoln, happened to be from my home state, but he was a good president,” Obama told the crowd of Democrats who had paid some big bucks for the pep rally. “He was a guy who invested in the intercontinental railroad, and land grant colleges, and the National Academy of Sciences,” he paused, “in the middle of the Civil War!”

The gaffe spread to other members of the administration. As I noted yesterday, David Axelrod repeated the same mistake last weekend. But it turns out VP Biden repeated it as well. As you can see here, Time magazine reported Biden saying it, but like Reuters and Politico, missed the gaffe:

Just one day after Amtrak announced it was resurrecting a recently killed commuter-rail tunnel to send more Acela trains into Manhattan, Biden said the Administration was proposing the largest rail investment since Abraham Lincoln began the intercontinental railroad — and promised a similar impact.

It’s not just print journalists struggling with this either. Chris Matthews, the man who loves to insinuate Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann are dumb, said it too:

MATTHEWS:  Well, you know, I‘ve got to ask you the same question.  But why, Senator—I mean, Abraham Lincoln built the land grant college system, he built the intercontinental railroad, all during fighting the Civil War.

Credit to my fellow Big Journalism blogger Warner Todd Huston who found the transcript which led me to that clip above. Also a tipster led Warner to another video of Obama saying this from back in 2009! So this gaffe has been around for two years. Obama has spoken it in public numerous times and had it reported by several major news outlets, yet no one has called him on it. This is very different from the treatment of historical gaffes accorded to members of the GOP. Sarah Palin would not be given 5-6 chances to correct this embarrassing historical error.

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Category: MSM & Bias |

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