Recent headline from the Columbus Dispatch: "Obama had facts wrong about visit here."
The story goes on to report how Barack Obama, on a visit to Ohio to tout how well his stimulus plan is working, cited a project that was not funded with stimulus dollars.
"What we've been trying to do is to build infrastructure that puts people back to work but also improves the quality of life in communities like Columbus," Obama said in his remarks. "So Joe is an architect, and he's now working on a new police station that was funded in part with Recovery Act funds."
Two problems here -- first, of course, is that the money came from a congressional earmark rather than stimulus funds. The second is that the project in question was not a "police station" but rather an abandoned warehouse the city is renovating to house its crime lab and property room.
White House representatives went back later to clarify what Obama meant. This seems to be an ongoing process whenever Obama says something. He, or his spokesman, have to go back and say what he really meant to say.
George Bush was ridiculed for his Bush-isms. There were plenty, to be sure, over his eight years.* His opponents cited these instances as indications of his supposed lower-level intellect. Yet he rarely had to have anyone explain what he really meant to say. Even when it was inelegant, his meaning was usually clear.
Obama, in his year and a half in office, has committed one gaffe after another without remark. And his supporters still consider him an "intellectual."
In comparison, Sarah Palin was destroyed by the media during the presidential campaign for her response to Katie Couric's question about what Palin reads. Here's the exchange:
Couric: And when it comes to establishing your worldview, I was curious, what newspapers and magazines did you regularly read before you were tapped for this to stay informed and to understand the world?
Palin: I read most of them.
Couric: What, specifically?
Palin: Um, all of them, any of them that have been in front of me all these years.
Couric: Can you name a few?
Palin: I have a vast variety of sources where we get our news, too.
Remember, Palin was roundly criticized and ridiculed for her answers. Now, here's Barack Obama's response to a similar question from a New York Times reporter.
NYT: Sir, we’re landing here, but what are you reading these days? What kind of newspapers do you read, do you read the clips, do you read actual papers, do you watch television?
Obama: Other than The New York Times?
NYT: Other than The New York Times. Do you read Web sites? What Web sites do you look at?
Obama: I read most of the big national papers.
NYT: Do you read them in clips or do you read them in the paper? (Note: This is where the reporter could have asked, "What, specifically?")
Obama: No, I read the paper. I like the feel of a newspaper. I read most of the weekly newsmagazines. I may not read them from cover to cover but I’ll thumb through them. You know, I spend most of my time these days reading a lot of briefings.
Now then. How much difference exists between the answers of "dimwit" Palin and "intellectual" Obama?
*("Misunderestimate" is a good word. "Strategery" was not coined by Bush but by Will Ferrell impersonating the President during a SNL sketch. Bush's White House staff apparently picked it up as a joke and used it as a nod toward the comedy sketch.)