The 57 States Gaffe

Like Sarah Palin, I draw some amusement at presidential candidate Barack Obama’s famous mis-state-ment, thinking he had been insufficiently immersed in American civics as a child raised in Indonesia or wherever. When forced to think in a an unteleprompted environment, his unfamiliarity shone through, I thought. OK, on some level I still think that.

But then Brittany Cohan suggested that Obama was only joking about how long the 2008 campaign had been. Her evidence was that he “chuckles after he says it“.

Having looked at the video again, I realized we were both wrong: Obama wasn’t being stupid, but phony.

Here is the transcript, with vocal ticks included:

… uh, because, you know, i-i-it is just wonderful to be back in Oregon, and over the last 15 months we’ve traveled … uh to every corner of the United States. Uh, I’ve now been in fifty … ss-seven? states. I think one left to go. Uh, one left to go — eh, Alaska and Hawaii I was not allowed to go to, even though I really wanted to visit but my staff would not, uh, justify it.

  • Obama says “fifty … ss-seven states”.
  • “One left to go”
  • “Alaska and Hawaii I was not allowed to go to”
  • After the crowd laughs, he smirks

Obama doesn’t chuckle at all, but rather grins a bit. And as importantly, the little smirk is not from laughing at his own joke, but in response to the crowd.

The smirk is the typical Obama recovery, pretending that he is in on some joke that he is not. The technique is similar to the way Obama convinces people he’s more intelligent than he is, by simply nodding along and saying they have a good point.

Obama simply misspoke. He meant to say he’d been in 47 states, with one left to go to visit all lower 48. Yet he was too arrogant to think the crowd was laughing at him. So he pretended to be in on the joke.  As usual when a person does that, they wind up looking like a worse fool than if they’d just asked what the joke was in the first place.

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1 Response to The 57 States Gaffe

  1. Pingback: The 57 States Gaffe Was No Joke « Sago

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