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Tired:

The AP reports:

Barack Obama, caught up in the fervor of a campaign speech Tuesday, drastically overstated the Kansas tornadoes death toll, saying 10,000 had died. The death toll was 12.

"In case you missed it, this week, there was a tragedy in Kansas. Ten thousand people died — an entire town destroyed," the Democratic presidential candidate said in a speech to 500 people packed into a sweltering Richmond art studio for a fundraiser....

As he concluded his remarks a few minutes later, he appeared to realize his gaffe.

"There are going to be times when I get tired," he said. "There are going to be times when I get weary. There are going to be times when I make mistakes."

Obama spokesman Bill Burton said later that the senator meant to say "at least 10," instead of 10,000....

This doesn't seem to me like a simple slip of the tongue, as when you mean to say one thing but accidentally say another (e.g., "at most 10" instead of "at least 10"). The "thousand" must have been deliberate at the time, though surely not thought through — a ten-thousand-death natural disaster would, to my knowledge, be unprecedented in recent American history; if one thought about it even for a moment, one would realize that the number must be wrong.

But the tiredness explanation nonetheless strikes me as perfectly reasonable. Campaigning for President is, by all accounts, an immensely tiring task — basically nonstop work morning to night, traveling, constantly talking, making political decisions, worrying. I suspect nearly all of us, laboring under that kind of schedule, would make errors of one sort or another in what we say. Just think about the slip-ups you sometimes make after any long spell of intense work. Seems to me we ought to cut the man (and all his fellow candidates) some slack on this score.

For a different view, see Don Surber. Thanks to InstaPundit for the pointer.

UPDATE: OK, this is just zany. I post (1) defending Obama against charges that he made some telling gaffe, and (2) trying to use this one incident to urge more broadly that everyone cut people more slack on slip-ups they make in the middle of an extremely hectic schedule. I do so after others, both in the mainstream media and in blogs, note the story, and after some use the story as an argument against Obama. (Just check out the links that I give and you'll see.)

But I guess you can't please some people: "Why would you possibly post on this?" "Complete non-event .... Will we see more of this sort of thing from Prof. Volokh as the election approaches?" "the media vultures who want to make stories out trivial events I agree. Too bad this website joins the flock." Apparently even noting that there is this criticism of Obama out there and defending him against the criticism is somehow beyond the pale.

It's going to be a long, unpleasant election season.

Bobbie (mail):
Why is this even a news story or an issue? I suspect making anything of this story says more about those that are talking about it than Obama.
5.9.2007 1:40pm
AK (mail):
I have no idea why anyone is wasting a second on this so-called "gaffe." As someone who voted for Bush twice, I suppose I could get some satisfaction from pointing out that the Democrats' silver-tongued golden boy can sound stupid when he speaks but, mercy, I have much better things to do with my life.

I'm not looking forward to nineteen more months of this.
5.9.2007 1:43pm
gab:
Tip of the week - when you see the words "Thanks to InstaPundit for the pointer," you can disregard the story.
5.9.2007 1:47pm
Redman:
Any lawyer who has ever taken a depositon knows full well that we sometimes say things that we would swear on a stack of Bibles we did not say . . . but there it is, in black and white.

Chill.
5.9.2007 1:48pm
Falafalafocus (mail):
I am always confused by comments such as Bobble's:


I suspect making anything of this story says more about those that are talking about it than Obama.

I have seen this statement elsewhere and in a host of different issues. I still do not get it. By Bobble's own comment, is it not fair to say that Bobble's insinuation regarding those talking about this story says more about Bobble than about those talking about this story? By that token, the follow up commenter can then say that my questioning of Bobble's insinuation says more about me than Bobble's insinuation. And we can arguably go about this ad infinitim. Because of this, I fail to see how this is a valid argument against the original person who comments on the story.

Bobble or others, can you give me an example where a person cannot say that a comment says more about the commenter than about the thing in which they are commenting? Perhaps that will assuage my confusion.
5.9.2007 1:50pm
Martin Ammorgan (mail):
Why would you possibly post on this? Since you did, you might at least comment on Mitt Romney's May 5 statement to the already misinformed enough graduates of Regent University that:

"In France, for instance, I'm told that marriage is now frequently contracted in seven-year terms where either party may move on when their term is up. How shallow and how different from the Europe of the past."

That can't even be charitably described as a gaffe. It's an outright falsehood. Ignorance or deception?

Please tell us Professor.
5.9.2007 1:52pm
DeezRightWingNutz:
Was there some other statistic related to the storm that involved the number 10,000? Number of damaged homes/homes without power?
5.9.2007 2:00pm
Michael Zappe (www):
It simply strikes me as a rhetorical hyperbole, something many people use all the time in vulgar speech to try and get their point across. Unfortunately, it has no place in public, authoritative speech. However, with politicians trying to be 'cool' and 'connect to the public' (some new populism?) it doesn't suprise me that people use this in public speeches. The line between official and casual has quite possibly been blurred to too great an extent. Also, from what I've seen in exerpts, the style of his speech is simply to generate an emotional appeal, so that makes it even less surprising.
5.9.2007 2:08pm
Allen G:
It's a bit silly that this is a major news item. However, it does seem perfect first article for a new slate.com column, obamaisms column.
5.9.2007 2:14pm
Shelby (mail):
I have little interest in this particular slip, but it does point to a broader issue that EV hints at. This promises to be the longest, and likely most exhausting (for the candidates) campaign ever. On the one hand tired people make blunders (I expect in a more or less random fashion); on the other hand, they may let down their guard and be more revealing than they intend. I don't know which effect will be more pronounced, but the latter, at least, may be useful for voters.
5.9.2007 2:19pm
Houston Lawyer:
If he had immediately corrected himself, no one would have cared. Looks to me like he was trying to get some more Katrina mileage out of this disaster.

As much as I dislike her, I've come to the conclusion that I would rather have Hillary as president than Obama.
5.9.2007 2:20pm
AF:
Complete non-event, better suited to Instapundit than volokh.com. Will we see more of this sort of thing from Prof. Volokh as the election approaches?
5.9.2007 2:21pm
Spartacus (www):
Tired, yes; but as pointed out, the intention, overt or accidental, woudl be to imply that the disaster was worse than 9/11, or Katrina. The tendancy to exaggerate such things, even under stress, should not be overlooked.
5.9.2007 2:24pm
WHOI Jacket:
And the piling on of Instapudit begins....

I don't want 19 more months of this.

The far more important aspect of the story is the Kansas Gov. trying to make this an Bush issue regarding a supposed drawndown/weakening of the National Guard. The furious backtracking has already begun on that front.
5.9.2007 2:25pm
Bobbie (mail):
Falafalafocus, it's Bobbie, not Bobble. ;)

In my view, the story itself -- Obama's gaffe -- is not worth commenting on because it's not an issue. Therefore, people who are commenting on the substance of Obama's comment likely have an axe to grind. In other words, their comments say something -- they have an axe to grind -- whereas the story itself says nothing.

My comment wasn't about Obama's comment, but the meta-issue of people commenting. There's no contradiction in doing that unless you think (and I think this is wrong) commenting on a non-issue story says nothing about the person making the comment.

To give you an example, if somebody comments on a story about the Democrats trying to end the Iraqi war, the story itself says something -- it's something worth commenting on. The fact that somebody comments (as opposed to what they comment) on it doesn't tell us a whole lot about the person because it's an interesting story that people will likely comment on.
5.9.2007 2:27pm
Bobbie (mail):
Houston Lawyer, do you always realize immediately when you make a slip of the tongue? This is silly. I have a hard time believing you've never attended a deposition and not had to tell a witness during a break that they said something that they couldn't have meant. After the break, the witness corrects him or herself and nobody thinks twice.

I mean geez, people, for those of you (e.g., Spartacus) who are trying to make this into something, I don't know what to say to you. You must have first hand experience with doing something similar and I doubt you had sinister motives. If this was something Obama did a lot, then I'd understand the speculation. But how Obama thought purposefully exaggerating the deaths by such a huge number would be helpful to him is beyond me. If he said "100," then at least I could understand speculation that he was exaggerating on purpose. But why would he say a number one thousand times larger than the real number on purpose?
5.9.2007 2:34pm
Crust (mail):
Another bizarre error: Romney asserted that many marriages expire after seven years in France. His spokesman later "clarified" by pointing to a provision about civil unions in France, that they cannot be cancelled before three months. I think he would have done better and followed Obama's spokesman's example and just said Romney was tired and made a mistake.
5.9.2007 2:35pm
Dave N (mail):
The Today Show made a big deal about President Bush starting to say "17-," catching himself and saying "1976" in discussing the Bicentennial. The President caught himself, made a joke about the Queen's reaction, and moved on.

Was that a story? Was Dan Quayle in mispelling "potato" in a classroom?

Frankly, the media plays this kind of "gotcha" game all the time. It says nothing about Obama (I will give him the benefit of the doubt) and everything about the media vultures who want to make stories out trivial events.
5.9.2007 2:35pm
badger (mail):

Tired, yes; but as pointed out, the intention, overt or accidental, woudl be to imply that the disaster was worse than 9/11, or Katrina. The tendancy to exaggerate such things, even under stress, should not be overlooked.

This may be one of the most ridiculous things I've heard on a Volokh comment board. You might as well say that Obama was implying that the laws of mathematics are fraudulent and one is equal to one-thousand.

Since when does one incident equal a "tendency"?

How is it even possible to accidentally imply something? Or to have an "accidental" intention?
5.9.2007 2:41pm
Martin Ammorgan (mail):
the media vultures who want to make stories out trivial events

I agree. Too bad this website joins the flock.

Meanwhile, no post on the recently released memo from the AG delegating termination authority to his COS and the White House liasion, both 30 something non-entities who were taking orders directly from ?
5.9.2007 2:41pm
Bobbie (mail):
I think President Bush's gaffes are different. People aren't accusing the President of having some sinister ulterior motive like they're accusing Obama here. The President's gaffes are evidence that he's not very bright or articulate. That's why people make fun of him. If he made stupid statements only now and again, then perhaps it wouldn't make sense to make fun of him. But -- and I say this as a life-long Texan who has met the President and followed him when he was Governor here -- he often says dumb things. He's not very bright (although perhaps not as dumb as people generally seem to think) and he's not very articulate.
5.9.2007 2:44pm
arthur (mail):
I applaud Obama for overcoming, at least for a minute, the pernicious stereotype that African-American politicians (and Harvard Law Review editors, too) are highly articulate.
5.9.2007 2:50pm
Dave!:
Houston Lawyer: How immediate do you need? He corrected himself a few minutes later... sheesh. "As he concluded his remarks a few minutes later, he appeared to realize his gaffe."

Talk about making a mountain out of a molehill...
5.9.2007 2:53pm
plunge (mail):
I can't believe that anyone actually thinks this is instructive about Obama at all. There's no way someone deliberately trying to play something up would take a death toll from 10 to 10,000. Statements like "Looks to me like he was trying to get some more Katrina mileage out of this disaster." are just mindboggling.
5.9.2007 2:54pm
Crust (mail):
Oops, I see Martin Ammorgan already mentioned the Romney gaffe before I did. I'm inclined to go a little easier on Romney than Martin is though. He writes:


That can't even be charitably described as a gaffe. It's an outright falsehood.


Well, it is indeed a falsehood or "outright falsehood" if you prefer. But I don't see why that is inconsistent with "gaffe". The key point -- in both cases -- is that it was surely not a deliberate deception.

To me, the big difference is in the handling: Obama's folks just straightforwardly said he made a mistake whereas Romney's folks tried to muddy the waters and gave an incoherent defense of an indefensible statement.

I guess another difference is that Romney presumably was genuinely confused about marriage laws in France -- rather than a momentary confusion or misspeaking as in Obama's case -- but that doesn't seem particularly germane to me. Neither was lying, as neither sought to deceive.
5.9.2007 2:57pm
Charlie (Colorado) (mail):
I'm with the guy who said "chill". If he'd persisted, as Reid persisted with the KNG story, after seeing it corrected that'd be a story.
5.9.2007 3:01pm
r78:
Yes, it must be tiring. Rudy is so tired that he says he finds abortion to be morally reprehensible while forgetting that he and his wife contributed money to abortion rights groups.

Mitt Romney is so dead-dog worn out that he imagines that marriages in France only last for 7 years.

And we have months and months to go.
5.9.2007 3:03pm
Gino:
I with those who see that as not even worth mentioning.
5.9.2007 3:04pm
DRB (mail):
Hmm...

Martin Ammorgam: Why would you possibly post on this?

AF: Complete non-event, better suited to Instapundit than volokh.com. Will we see more of this sort of thing from Prof. Volokh as the election approaches?

Martin Ammorgan again: Meanwhile, no post on the recently released memo from the AG delegating termination authority to his COS and the White House liasion, both 30 something non-entities who were taking orders directly from ?

Geepers, guess Professor Volokh owes you guys a refund, huh?
5.9.2007 3:09pm
Colin (mail):
Too bad this website joins the flock.

To be fair, isn't EV's point that Obama's gaffe is meaningless and unimportant? I've seen a few criticisms of him for posting this, but it seems like he's making the right point - that this is no big deal.
5.9.2007 3:17pm
Hoosier:
The rush to jump on EV and InstaPundit has been so rapid that the Big Question has barely made a splash.

The route to the White House is so exhausting, so all-consuming, and so full of puerile non-issues like this, that I have to wonder about the sort of person who would choose this course.

In addition, I'm VERY concerned about the presidency in the coming decades. We of Gen-X are famously Slackers. What's going to happen in 2024 when NO ONE seeks the presidency? The Boomers need to amend the Constitution to deal with this contingency. Because Lord knows my buddies and I aren't gonna get around to it; There are too many good shows on cable.
5.9.2007 3:18pm
Martin Ammorgan (mail):
DRB- the Professor can (and does) post whatever he wants. However, I read the comments policy and it nowhere states "Only comment with praise."

It does encourage "sticking with substance" but when the post itself is so insubstantial, it's hard not to stray.
5.9.2007 3:28pm
Crust (mail):
What Colin said.

Clearly, this is not the most important post ever. But it makes a useful point about the meta-story: that people are making a big deal out of nonsense like this and they shouldn't. If nobody replies to people who hype trivia, then the trivia will have undue weight. Not talking about it doesn't really work. (Go browse Bob Somerby's archives at The Daily Howler if you want to see more on this.)
5.9.2007 3:37pm
rarango (mail):
WHY is this a story? I am not a big fan of Sen Obama, but the poor SOB mispoke--no one was killed, injured in the ensuing riot, or anything else. If this is the kind of coverage this extended campaign season is going to draw, we are all in shit city. This is (hyperbole alert) one of the most important elections we face: no incumbents, no Veep, wide open field, wars, social security and medicare. And the fact that he says 10,000 rather than 10? I'd much rather know what his health care plan is.
5.9.2007 3:42pm
rarango (mail):
Sorry for double post: quick: someone remind me about professional journalists, and the layers of editors and fact checkers, and why journalism is a graduate degree program? Death of the MSM? not soon enough for me.
5.9.2007 3:46pm
anym_avey (mail):
It does encourage "sticking with substance" but when the post itself is so insubstantial, it's hard not to stray.

You're quite the piece of work. It would seem to me that the issue has already been blown out of proportion, irrespecitve of any contribution to it by E.V. When he does post, and takes a position you ostensibly appear to be in agreement with, and yet you criticize him for commenting.

Got a bur in your saddle, or something?
5.9.2007 3:49pm
A.S.:
Bobbie writes: The President's gaffes are evidence that he's not very bright or articulate.

And, likewise, this gaffe is evidence that Barack Obama is not very bright or articulate.

Thanks, Bobbie. Now I know that the gaffe IS actually meaningful.
5.9.2007 3:59pm
A.S.:
Ooops. I forgot that any mention of articulateness in connection with a black person (Either way! Thanks, Joe Biden!) is racist. My apologies.
5.9.2007 4:01pm
Martin Ammorgan (mail):
Yes. I actually logged on to this site today to see if there was any discussion of the ongoing fiasco at DOJ, an issue of quite some interest to my own legal community. I see this fluff. I got irritated. Sorry.

Sure Professor Volokh is defending Obama. Congrats. Like you can actually post on this and NOT defend him? (Apparently, there's link to an alternate viewpoint, but why any sane person would go read that indictment is beyond me).
5.9.2007 4:07pm
frankcross (mail):
Hey, it's their website, they can choose to post what they want.

But I too often find the choice of posts odd. Why certain articles are held up as illogical or wrong, while worse ones seem to be ignored. Why this post on Obama's error (and then defending him) and nothing on Romney's nuttier claim about seven-year French marriages. Maybe it is the reliance on Instapundit.

But, hey, it's EV's site, he calls the shots.
5.9.2007 4:17pm
Andrew Okun:
Personally, I think it is no biggie and I'd love to ignore it, but I'm not sure Democrats can afford to. Obama is an inexperienced politician basking in a rock star aura which will come to an end some time before the general election. When the aura is gone, we need him still to be a survivor. If he says stuff, backs away from it and then issues explanations like "he meant to say 10," it is really important that people think those explanations are true. It doesn't matter how relevant gaffes and responses are substantively because they are relevant politically and nobody is going to let go of them in today's environment. I wish it weren't so, but it is.
5.9.2007 4:18pm
Thorley Winston (mail) (www):
WHY is this a story? I am not a big fan of Sen Obama, but the poor SOB mispoke--no one was killed, injured in the ensuing riot, or anything else.


Probably because at the same time Obama was claiming there were 10,000 dead, the governor of Kansas was trying to exploit the same issue to bash Bush over using the National Guard in Iraq. And before that at the Democrat debate, Obama and the rest of his cohorts were still trying to blame Bush because the Democrat governor of Louisiana didn't let the feds come in early enough and the Democrat city government of New Orleans didn't fully evacuate their city.

It's relevant because while it probably was a gaffe (although one wonders how many "gaffes" the MSM would find if they didn't treat Obama with kid gloves and Slate started an "Obamaisms" column), Obama and the other wannabes do have a track record of making these sorts of bizarre accusations.
5.9.2007 4:20pm
r78:

Bobbie writes: The President's gaffes are evidence that he's not very bright or articulate.

And, likewise, this gaffe is evidence that Barack Obama is not very bright or articulate.


So you think that this one instance of flubbing a line equates the the hundreds if not thousands of inane flubs by the shrub?

What are you smokin' boy?
5.9.2007 4:22pm
A.S.:
<i>So you think that this one instance of flubbing a line equates the the hundreds if not thousands of inane flubs by the shrub?</i>

Did I say "equates"? No, I didn't. I said that this provides evidence that Barack Obama "not very bright or articulate", to use Bobbie's words.

If misstatements by "shrub" provide such evidence with regard to him, then Obama's gaffe should be treated no differently.
5.9.2007 4:32pm
Adeez (mail):
Well, professor: some of us regular readers were (and probably still are) a bit dubious about the silence on this site following the US atty firing debacle. In response, a poster (sorry, I do not remember whether it was you) wrote a long response about why you guys choose to post what you post. It just seems like the firing scandal was extremely relevant, but looked bad for the Republicans, so that's why no one mentioned it. I'M NOT SAYING THAT THAT IS WHAT HAPPENED, but hey, it didn't look great, and the site does have "conspiracy" in its name.

So, when you post about a non-issue that makes a D look bad, it again appears a bit suspicious. And although you do provide him an excuse (exhaustion), you clearly state "This doesn't seem to me like a simple slip of the tongue, as when you mean to say one thing but accidentally say another (e.g., "at most 10" instead of "at least 10"). The "thousand" must have been deliberate at the time, though surely not thought through."

So, on one hand you say it's a mistake, but on the other, you say it was deliberate. Deliberate means he was trying to deceive people regarding a statistic that's easily verifiable, in a calculating way. If that's your position, fine. But you can't have it both ways.
5.9.2007 4:40pm
r78:

Did I say "equates"? No, I didn't. I said that this provides evidence that Barack Obama "not very bright or articulate", to use Bobbie's words.

If misstatements by "shrub" provide such evidence with regard to him, then Obama's gaffe should be treated no differently.

Sure, the same what that when someone gets struck by lightning while peeing in a cornfield is evidence that peeing in cornfields is a very dangerous thing to do.
5.9.2007 4:55pm
Bobbie (mail):
A.S., perhaps a more detailed look at your decision to use "gaffe" with Obama and "gaffes" with President Bush explain why the situations are different. Since I've already made this point, as has r78, I don't plan to respond again when you state that treating Obama's lone gaffe as not evidence of being inarticulate is inconsistent with treating Bush's numerous gaffes as evidence he is inarticulate.

Thorley Winston, assuming you're right that Obama has "a track record of making these sorts of bizarre accusations," what does this gaffe have to do with that?
5.9.2007 5:00pm
David Sucher (mail) (www):
"It's going to be a long, unpleasant election season."

Professor, why are you always complaining? Don't you think it is a blessing that we still get to vote at all? And do you only think in terms of "pleasure?"

Just joking.
5.9.2007 5:00pm
Brian K (mail):
I think this is a good post...although I think EV's analysis is slightly wrong.

EV is absolutely correct and that the error was a simple mistake and should be ignored. I think the real story lies in what Obama did about it. Obama realized his mistake, admitted it and corrected himself. His staff then also gave a plausible and realistic reason for the mistake. who wouldn't be tired in obama's position?

Contrast this with how the Bush Administration and Romney (for those who brought up that example) handle their mistakes. They both tried to deflect the blame, give unsatisfactory, and at times obviously wrong, excuses and in general try to weasel out of it.

Which person would you rather have as a president?
5.9.2007 5:07pm
KeithK (mail):
If this is the kind of coverage this extended campaign season is going to draw, we are all in shit city.

Of course this is the kind of coverage we can expect during the campaign. This is exactly the kind of coverage we've been getting for most of the cable news era (at least) and with a ridiculously long campaign season there's simply more chances for gaffes to occur.

The fact is that many political types try to jump on every little mistake made by their opponents as evidence that said opponents are horrible candidates. This is unfortunate, but it's human nature (and it works to some degree).
5.9.2007 5:10pm
Justin Northrup:
The best reason I've heard is he was using the Lancet's estimate on casualties.
5.9.2007 5:15pm
Eugene Volokh (www):
Frank Cross: You ask "Why this post on Obama's error (and then defending him) and nothing on Romney's nuttier claim about seven-year French marriages." Because I hadn't heard anything about Romney's seven-year French marriages claim until I saw it in the comments.
5.9.2007 5:29pm
r78:

The best reason I've heard is he was using the Lancet's estimate on casualties.

Except that the Lancet study followed standard, scientifically accepted protocols, so your comment doesn't make any sense.
5.9.2007 5:36pm
Bobbie (mail):
Eugene, then perhaps you should diversify the blogs you read! ;)
5.9.2007 5:36pm
frankcross (mail):
EV: I figured that was the case, hence my reference to reliance on Instapundit.
5.9.2007 5:37pm
ed o:
nah, a democratic politician wouldn't try to make hay out of the body count from a natural disaster. I certainly don't remember anyone from that side of the fence drooling over the possibility of 10's of thousands dead from Katrina.
5.9.2007 5:37pm
Paddy O. (mail):
So, do you think Slate is going to start a new column on Obamaisms? Or does that strike against the settled narrative on what Obama is offering?

Seems to me that how a candidate acts when tired is extremely important. Will they be worn out through their first year in office? How will they respond to a major global conflict while tired. We are electing the decider in chief, who has to be sharp even when worn out. Sure, this isn't that big of a deal but I think it has a place in the discussion.

A misstatement isn't that important. Getting worn out and how this affects judgment, decisions, and statements certainly is important. And hopefully this is a great lesson for Obama to balance his campaign with appropriate rest. I am very interested to know how all the candidates think and act when they are exhausted.
5.9.2007 5:45pm
Daryl Herbert (www):
You're right, EV, this is going to be a miserable season.

Every person here knows, without a doubt, that if Bush had gotten the number wrong (even to say 100 instead of 10) the same people crucifying you would be the loudest voices against Bush as incompetent and out of touch.

The hard left has decided that its problem is that it's been too fair to conservatives in its rhetoric. Seriously. They worry about being too fair.

This is of course reminiscent of the famous psychological experiment where volunteers would take turns shocking each other. Each volunteer controlled how much of a shock the other would get. Each underestimated the amount of pain he was inflicting on the other guy, so even though he was trying to match the other guy's shock, he ended up escalating.

These radical (and mostly very young) leftists are unable to see how unfair their extremist rhetoric is. They react to any criticism, no matter how fair or moderate or measured, as a vicious, underhanded attack. They are like wind up toys. Perfectly predictable.

If Republicans hold the Oval Office, we will see rioting, just like in France.

I just hope they don't start murdering police officers again. That's what happened the last time the left went off its rocker.
5.9.2007 5:51pm
Crust (mail):
Daryl Herbert writes:


Every person here knows, without a doubt, that if Bush had gotten the number wrong (even to say 100 instead of 10) the same people crucifying you would be the loudest voices against Bush as incompetent and out of touch.


Are you serious or is that intentional parody? President Bush misspeaks and gets things wrong all the time. Various people find it amusing or charming or irritating or embarrassing or whatever, but I think by now everyone is well aware that this is a routine feature of his presidency.

Of course Bush's false statements haven't all been inadvertent. Perhaps the most notable was his April 2004 claim in prepared comments that the government did not wiretap without "getting a court order before we do
so".
5.9.2007 6:10pm
Colin (mail):
These radical (and mostly very young) leftists are unable to see how unfair their extremist rhetoric is. . . . They are like wind up toys. Perfectly predictable. . . . I just hope they don't start murdering police officers again. That's what happened the last time the left went off its rocker.

It's the pot calling the kettle crazy.
5.9.2007 6:10pm
Bobbie (mail):
Daryl Herbert, I just hope they don't revert to killing and raping children again. And then there's the senseless killing of puppies and kittens. I really hate that!
5.9.2007 6:10pm
buzz (mail):

Except that the Lancet study followed standard, scientifically accepted protocols, so your comment doesn't make any sense.

Uh....no they didnt. Skipped peer review also. Possibly why it is ignored.
5.9.2007 6:10pm
Crust (mail):
buzz:


[The controversial Lancet study on Iraqi mortality that found ~600,000 excess deaths since the invasion] skipped peer review


That is false. The Lancet is one of the top medical journals in the world and all articles -- including this one -- are peer reviewed. It is true that that study had expedited peer review (i.e. the referees had tighter deadlines than usual) and one can surmise that it was expedited to get the study out before the US elections. But nonetheless it did go through the peer review process of a top journal. There is a lively debate on the study, perhaps the best place to look is Deltoid.
5.9.2007 6:26pm
Drewsil (mail):
I remember heading home one night after spending all day writing my thesis. I was pulled over by the police for running a red light, though I had no recollection of doing so. It took me about 5 minutes to find my registration, even though it was one of three total papers in my glove box. If the biggest gaff Obama makes because he is tired is substituting 10,000 for 10 in a speach I'd say he is doing remarkably well.
5.9.2007 6:28pm
Crust (mail):
And yes the Lancet study did follow standard protocols in its design and statistical analysis.
5.9.2007 6:30pm
ed o:
perhaps it was wishful thinking on his part. after all, can an "articulate" candidate like him make mistakes?
5.9.2007 6:31pm
Brian K (mail):
You beat me to it Colin. haha
5.9.2007 6:52pm
Fen:
Obama's correction is: "at least 10 have been killed - an entire town destroyed"

Can anyone on the Left explain that to me? Lots of towns in Kansas with a pop of 10?
5.9.2007 7:44pm
Bobbie (mail):
Er, Fen, have you been following the story? An entire town was literally destroyed. There's little left. Estimates report that 95% of the town is now gone. That has nothing to do with the numbers killed.
5.9.2007 8:08pm
AF:
Apparently even noting that there is this criticism of Obama out there and defending him against the criticism is somehow beyond the pale.

It isn't beyond the pale. But it is partisan spin of a sophisticated sort. The trick is to appear reasonable by not actually endorsing a ridiculous partisan attack, but to legitimize the attack by treating it as something on which reasonable minds can differ.

This is a skillful and valid form of spin, but it's clearly spin. Usually volokh.com is a true spin-free zone, to coin a phrase. Consider it a sign of respect that your commenters expect more from you.
5.9.2007 8:31pm
AF:
"No spin zone." Don't watch enough O'Reilly.
5.9.2007 8:35pm
BladeDoc (mail):
AF -- I think your projecting. It's like the poison scene in "Princess Bride"

Vizzini: But it's so simple. All I have to do is divine from what I know of you: are you the sort of man who would put the poison into his own goblet or his enemy's? Now, a clever man would put the poison into his own goblet, because he would know that only a great fool would reach for what he was given. I am not a great fool, so I can clearly not choose the wine in front of you. But you must have known I was not a great fool, you would have counted on it, so I can clearly not choose the wine in front of me.
5.9.2007 9:56pm
Daryl Herbert (www):
Crust: Are you serious or is that intentional parody? President Bush misspeaks and gets things wrong all the time. Various people find it amusing or charming or irritating or embarrassing or whatever, but I think by now everyone is well aware that this is a routine feature of his presidency.

And how does any of that contradict what I wrote? It doesn't.

The same people who condemn EV for seizing on a non-issue would be the loudest denouncers of President Bush if he made a similar mistake. It's that simple.
5.10.2007 12:25am
AF:
BladeDoc, this is not a particularly subtle or uncommon tactic. A good example of it is the ad last election about Senator Harold Ford attending a Playboy party. Even though the ad was criticized, the resuling controversy over what should have been a non-issue -- the playboy party -- was to the Republicans' benefit.

That ad was more ingenious than this, because it actually goaded out-of-state Democrats into doing the Republicans' work for them by making a big deal out of the ad (also, it was racist). Here, we have the more commonplace situation where a candidate's political opponents try to make an issue out of a non-issue. The way you do it is through a good cop/bad cop spin routine: shills like Shurber insist it's a big deal, while seemingly more sober folks like Instapundit (and now, perhaps, Professor Volokh?) stroke their chins and say they don't personally find it to be a big deal but they can see how some people would. Voila!
5.10.2007 12:44am
libertarian soldier (mail):
Justin Northrup, that was the best snark of the week.
Do they offer prizes here? Maybe the opportunity to guest blog for not less than 3000 words to end the shameful, shameful "silence on this site following the US atty firing debacle".
5.10.2007 1:05am
Hans Gruber:
It's perfectly conceivable that Obama just misspoke and didn't realize his mistake in real time (or apparently for the entirety of the speech). Yet that does strike me as odd. I, like most people, often slip up, but a slip up of this magnitude, saying ten thousand instead of ten, is usually caught during or at least right after the mistake. Obama just goes on like nothing happened, not even a pause. Take a look at the video. That does suggest that he really did think 10,000 people died. Maybe he was just on autopilot, not thinking about what he was saying. Or, as his words and behavior seem to indicate, maybe he really did think 10,000 people died.

I certainly wouldn't be surprised if his wife said something so wrong and believed it. She does seem just a little out of touch (e.g. "My husband, being black, could die going to get some gas.")
5.10.2007 2:22am
badger (mail):

Yet that does strike me as odd. I, like most people, often slip up, but a slip up of this magnitude, saying ten thousand instead of ten, is usually caught during or at least right after the mistake.

Extended semi-impromptu speaking is different from the way we speak in a daily basis. An experienced speaker, isn't thinking about what he or she says they are saying it, they are thinking about what they're going to be saying 15 to 30 seconds in the future. Such a mistake could easily be overlooked.

It's also possible that he recognized the mistake, didn't think there was any harm in failing to immediatley correct such an obvious mistake, and opted to correct his statement a couple minutes later when it wouldn't interrupt the momentum of his speech.
5.10.2007 11:13am
Crust (mail):
Hans Gruber writes:


It's perfectly conceivable that Obama just misspoke and didn't realize his mistake in real time (or apparently for the entirety of the speech).


Actually, Obama did quickly realize his mistake as indicated in the original post:


As he concluded his remarks a few minutes later, he appeared to realize his gaffe.
5.10.2007 11:22am
Hans Gruber:
Crust,

He didn't correct his mistake. He made a vague statement that "sometimes" he will get tired and make mistakes. Was this one of those times? His "correction" leaves that up in the air. His statement could ahve been merely the result of a staffer informing him he made a gaffe.

Badger,

Yes, all of what you suggest is completely possible, as I said it's the more likely scenario. If he decided that the "momentum" of his speech was too great to correct an error of that magnitude, well, that's a stupid call. But we all make mistakes speaking (and writing) and we all make stupid calls. I'm not going to say that makes Obama a horrible person. I will say that the event is a reasonable data point against Obama's candidacy and his fitness to serve.
5.10.2007 3:21pm