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05 October 2008
How important are political gaffes in an America election?
“I would immediately call the president of Mexico, the president of Canada to try to amend NAFTA," claimed Barack Obama back in August. That could be a problem because Canada has The Queen as head of state and a Prime Minister as head of government.

OK, it wasn't a major mistake, but remember that people who will vote for Obama next month also think that Sarah Palin is stupid. On the principle that two can play that game a blog has been set up to chronicle Obama's slips, and the Republicans are also making hay with Joe Biden's ballsups.

Now, at this point, let your friendly old Exile make a rather obvious point that everyone seems to be forgetting: the USA is a government of institutions and not individuals. It really doesn't matter how thick the president is just so long as he appoints men who are bright and can set the political tone that their underlings can operate in. Other than that a president has to look good on TV and know how to negotiate with Congress so that his bills get passed into law.

Thus political gaffes and the perceived stupidity that causes them are actually not all that important. Ronald Reagan genuinely was as thick as two short planks, but Congress pretty much passed most of his measures because they knew how popular he was in the country. Jimmy Carter, by way of contrast, was an intellectual who tried to micromanage everything and got very little passed.

Such is American political life.

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