I'm actually not very high on judging candidates by their gaffes. I don't think it makes one scintilla of a difference whether John Kerry thinks the Packers play on Lambeau Field or Lambert Field. How would that have affected the way he governed as president? Not at all.
I think journalists over-emphasize gaffes because they think it is a point of fact they can point to without being criticized by either side for being biased. They feel they're not allowed to say that someone's tax cut plan is terrible and will put a huge hole in the national budget. That might be true, but conventional wisdom says an objective reporter is not allowed to say that. Gaffes, on the other hand, are clear and can be pounced on.
So, with all of that being said, I am ironically going to point out a second possible gaffe for John McCain in a row. Why? Because John McCain has had so many gaffes in the last couple of weeks, let alone the whole campaign, that it has gotten to the point where you have to question if there is something wrong with him.
One or two gaffes in the course of a campaign are perfectly normal. Half a dozen in a week is crazy. That's outside of the normal range of mistakes. Does he remember things clearly? Does he not know the material in the first place?
So, here is his latest possible gaffe, brought to our attention by a Young Turks listener, Rich Kelly. Senator McCain said this to George Stephanopoulos in his interview on Sunday:
MCCAIN: I believe that, when he said that we had to leave Iraq, and we had to be out by last March, and we had to have a date certain, that was in contravention to -- and still is -- the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General David Petraeus.
Of course, Gen. Petraeus is not the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Admiral Mike Mullen is. That is a terrible mistake, if he really meant that. This is supposed to be his field of expertise and he has talked about Gen. Petraeus approximately one billion times.
I went back and watched the video of the interview about four times. It is possible to argue that he meant Gen. Petraeus and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. But that is not what he said.
You could give him the benefit of doubt and I don't think he actually thinks Petraeus is the chairman of JCS. But within the context of all of his other gaffes, one has to wonder. Is he slipping and making simple mistakes on a regular basis?
Again, if this was an isolated incident by itself, I'm not sure I would even bring it up. What is much more relevant is the claim Senator McCain made in the interview that if we had listened to Sen. Obama and started making preparations to leave Iraq last year, there would have been chaos and genocide. At the same time, he believes it was the right decision to invade Iraq in the first place. We invaded Iraq and caused the country to teeter on the edge of chaos and genocide but it was still a good idea to go in? That seems to be an unbelievable comment to make.
But within the context of all of McCain's other gaffes, his Gen. Petraeus comment has to be questioned as well. I'm not sure we can trust him to be on top of his game on even the simplest things at this point.