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October 2, 2008

Gaffe inflation

I’m in Berlin, so I’d have to get up at 3AM to watch the debate tonight, which I’m unlikely to do since tomorrow is a work day. But, I expect Palin will do better than expected, although not better than we’re expecting to expect her to do. And the media will seize on some stumbles by Biden so they can avoid the appearance of piling on Palin. In fact, we’re already seeing some gaffe inflation.

A gaffe used to be not just a mistake but one that really hurts a candidate’s standing. Biden’s thinking that FDR presided over the 1929 crash and that folks had TVs back then is a little bit of dumbness about history, but not a true gaffe because it doesn’t reveal a reason to give up your vote for him. McCain talking about the Iraq-Pakistan border is more of one, but since no one believes McCain is that ill-informed, we instead chalk it up to a mere momentary slip of the brain. No, a true gaffe is genuinely not knowing what the Bush Doctrine is or being able to name only a single Supreme Court case you disagree with.


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But, because the media are afraid that they look like they’re going after Palin — AKA Doing Their Job — I expect any small error or misstep made by Biden tonight to be elevated to full gaffe level.

Too bad. It used to be a useful term. I hate to lose it just because the media want to appear balanced in an unbalanced contest.

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