Thursday, May 10, 2007

A Tale of Three Gaffes

The 2008 election campaign is already getting weird.

ITEM: Mitt Romney addresses a crowd at Regents University. He tells them that, in France, marriage is now often contracted for a seven-year term. The bloggers are all over him on this one, because it turns out that his claim is not, well, reality-based. The prevailing theory seems to be that Romney lifted this from a science fiction novel by fellow-Mormon Orson Scott Card. (Some folks seem to be crediting Anna Marie Cox with the theory, but she herself credits Bradford Plumer over at The Plank.)

ITEM: Barack Obama claims that 10,000 people were killed in the Kansas tornado when the real number is 12. His explanation? He was tired. This triggers an exchange between big-time bloggers Eugene Volokh and Glenn Reynolds over whether Obama has an excuse to be tired at this point in the campaign. For what it's worth, I am with Glenn -- and Don Surber. Being President is hard. Hence the oft-noticed phenomenon of an outgoing President looking a lot older when he leaves office than when he went in. If Obama really wants to be President, he's got to prove he can make good decisions and control what he says even when he is out of sorts.

ITEM: Glenn Reynolds links to this video at Ace of Spades (also found here and here via Rob Port and Allahpundit). Watch the video for yourself, but the gist is that Edwards is asked about the collapse of World Trade Center Building 7, which is apparently now the locus of "truther" inquiry. Edwards tells his interlocutor the he will look into it. Now, Ace, Rob Port, Allahpundit, and to a lesser extent Reynolds all jump on Edwards with both feet. In my last post, I fretted over a poll which purports to show trutherism being quite prevalent among Democrats. I would agree that if Edwards (or any candidate) were to adopt one of the 9/11 conspiracy theories, that candidate should be hammered.

But frankly I don't interpret the video the way Ace, Rob Port, and Allahpundit do. I think that Edwards didn't know what the guy was talking about. The guy's questions was pretty incoherent to start with, and Edwards didn't seem to be aware that "World Trade Center Seven" has become a catch-phrase among the truther set. Nor did Edwards promise a full-blown official investigation if he was elected -- he said he would look into the guy's question and get back to him. I don't think Edwards should be condemned, because I don't think he knew his questioner was alluding to these conspiracy theories, and I don't think his answer constituted an endorsement of them. Now, I do agree with Allahpunidt that the applause is a bit creepy, because the folks in the audience seemed to be fully aware of what the guy was talking about and they seemed to think Edwards was signing on to it. But I don't think he was. As I said, watch the video -- it really is ambiguous.

Now, if Edwards comes back and says "fire doesn't melt steel," or gives credence to the notion that Bush knew -- well, hammer away at him. But I think that the criticism being launched at Edwards at this time is overblown given the apparent confusion in this exchange.

Are we having fun yet?

UPDATE: I want to thank Instapundit for updating with a link to my take on the matter. Lance over at A Second Hand Conjecture is skeptical of my view that Edwards misunderstood the question, and I suppose I may be giving him too much benefit-of-the-doubt. (Although Lance is willing to cut Edwards slack if he disclaims Trutherism.) It really is my sense in viewing the video that Edwards was confused about what was being asked. But it would be nice if Edwards were to clarify his position.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

I agree that Edwards appeared clueless as to what that stammering Truther was trying to ask. I hope he's not so out of touch that he doesn't know about the whole conspiracy movement, but I'll give him the benefit of a doubt.

This time.

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