Tag Archive: Gaffe


“First of all, a campaign is a marathon, you know that. I don’t think he (Biden) was up for a marathon. I think he would have been worn down already in the campaign by this time if he had to be out there everyday.

“Plus, let’s be honest: He’s a bit of a gaffe machine. He’d be saying all sorts of different things.” — Liberal Political Pundit Bill Maher

Can Joe Biden take “The 5th” the clear way to the presidency?

Does he benefit that his name is not Donald Trump?

Can he simply follow Napoleon’s axiom: “Never interfere with the enemy when he is in the process of destroying himself”?

This is the year in which Covid giveth and Covid taketh.

The infectious disease has greatly reduced Joe Biden contacts with the media and the voters. And with the reduction of these contacts, the potential for embarrassing gaffes goes down as well.

Almost DailyBrett has adhered to two political truisms during his career: The first is you can’t beat someone with no one.

The second is the race for the Presidency is a choice, not a referendum. It always has been, it always will be.

The two truisms are complementary. For example, the 1980 challenger (e.g., Ronald Reagan) stepped up on the debate stage and said, “There you go again” to unpopular incumbent Jimmy Carter.

After the debate, David Broder of the Washington Post wrote: Carter had “accomplished almost every objective except the most important one: The destruction of Reagan’s credibility as a President.”

Some chief executives adopted Rose Garden strategies with no debates, attempting to ignore the challenger and run out the clock. Richard Nixon won the 1972  battle against George McGovern, but ultimately lost the war with Watergate two years later.

What happens when the challenger adopts a Del-a-Where Bunker Strategy (DBS)? Can Joe Biden go underground for four months, leaving all the warm-and-fuzzy partisan activist media to unleash their 24-7-365 fury on Donald Trump?

The basement strategy may sound tempting to Biden’s always nervous handlers, but he still has to emerge from his subterranean refuge to announce his choice for a vice president, a bleeding heartbeat away from the presidency. He also must deliver his Democratic Convention acceptance speech behind the safety of the warm-and-fuzzy teleprompter.

And he has to debate Donald Trump at least three times.

The first two can be carefully calibrated and controlled. The debates bring the greatest risk, turning a preferred referendum into a contentious choice with equal amounts of public attention on both the incumbent and the challenger.

Playing The Expectations Game

 “I tell you if you have a problem figuring out whether you’re for me or Trump, then you ain’t black.” — White dude Biden to black radio show host Charlamagne Tha God

“To have that mindset, you must have the attitude that we, Black Americans, we own you. We can take you for granted. … That to me shows you that Black Americans are an appendage of a party. That’s the biggest turnoff I’ve heard from a politician in a long time.” — Black Entertainment Television (BET) Founder Robert Johnson

As the debates approach and expectations need to be managed the question becomes: How far can Democratic operatives talk down Joe Biden’s debating prospects without denigrating the former vice president?

And … How far can Democratic operatives talk up Donald Trump’s extensive stage presence and television experience (e.g., “The Apprentice”) without praising the president?

Do they acknowledge as Bill Maher said that Joe Biden is “a bit of a gaffe machine”? Okay, maybe more than “a bit.”

Even though Biden is sitting on a double-digit lead nationally and mostly within-the-margin of error (MOE) edges in battleground states (i.e., Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania), his support is predicated more on not being Donald Trump than on being Joe Biden.

Trump supporters by a 2/1 margin are more enthusiastic about the president. Biden backers are the mirror opposite; they are not enthusiastic about their guy, but detest and loathe (being kind here) Trump.

And there lies the temptation for the Biden team to glide toward the presidency, limiting appearance and interviews.

You can’t utter a gaffe if you don’t say anything.

Didn’t President Hillary Clinton adopt a similar strategy?

Who did she run against?

https://thehill.com/homenews/media/504617-bet-founder-bidens-you-aint-black-remark-biggest-turnoff-from-a-politician-in

https://www.foxnews.com/entertainment/maher-says-biden-sidelined-by-coronavirus-rules-helped-shut-down-gaffe-machine

https://www.foxnews.com/politics/fox-news-poll-biden-widens-lead-over-trump-republicans-enthusiastic-but-fear-motivates-dems

“Yes, most likely.” — Boeing President and CEO David L. Calhoun asked if one of his airline customers will go out of business

Three little devastating words.

What is one of the Golden Rules of Public Relations? Don’t answer hypotheticals.

“What happens if the sun slams into the earth?

You can think we would all fry and die and the markets would close early, but you have the right to keep your thoughts to yourself and to deliver a boring response to a reporter, anchor or correspondent.

Today’s Savannah Guthrie asked Calhoun if an airline (e.g., one of Boeing’s customer) could go under, and he uttered those three little words starting with “Yes.”

Guess what? The entire airline sector took a dive (pardon the poor Almost DailyBrett pun) as well as one of their chief suppliers … that would be … Boeing. The company’s PR department reportedly tried to “walk back” Calhoun’s gaffe, but as they say … ‘You can’t put the toothpaste back in the tube.”

Almost DailyBrett must first ask: Why “Today”?  Why now?

Even before Covid-19 sell-off, the company was responsible for two Boeing 737 Max-8 failure airplane crashes. As a former shareholder, your author knows the airline passenger market is on its back. Boeing turned into a ‘sell.’ It’s still a ‘sell.’

What’s the “great” news to bestow to the aeronautics rocket scientists at Today. Considering that Boeing is the ultimate B2B (business-to-business) is Today’s audience, your audience? Wouldn’t CNBC, Fox Business, Wall Street Journal or even Aviation Week be more appropriate media for Boeing?

Your Mother Always Told You To Tell The Truth

So did Immanuel Kant.

A former Silicon Valley colleague made a valid point that Boeing boss Calhoun should be given credit for telling the truth, and nothing but the truth.

True, but Calhoun went too far. Questions about the financial health of each and everyone of Boeing’s airline customers should be left to the … carriers themselves.

What was the alternative (besides declining the Today interview request)? How about not responding to the question, simply acknowledge the interrogative, say you can’t speak for individual airlines and pivot the discussion back to Boeing. The technique is known as Acknowledge-Bridge-SOCO (Strategic Operating Communications Objective).

SOCO is the answer, which coincides with predetermined before the Today interview Boeing’s agenda, not the wishes of Mizz Guthrie.

As a former press secretary for former California Governor George Deukmejian, your author and our press office staff parried each and every hypothetical question. It was our rule. It was our political discipline.

Consider one of the many questions that we received about legislation pending in the state Legislature, and whether the governor would sign or veto a bill? Unless it was one of the rare cases in which the governor deliberately wanted to send a discouraging message in advance — the bill would be DOA — we implemented our sacrosanct rule about not responding to hypotheticals.

Reporters would often voice their displeasure, but our answer made sense … bills are often amended. They are shelved in committee. They fail on the floor of one or the other house. You can’t make a judgment on a bill if and until it reaches the governor in its final form.

In governance, it’s sound public policy to plan for the future — California 2010 project in 1987. The Golden State foresaw the equivalent of the population of the State of Illinois moving to California. That prediction turned out to be true.

Having said that, there is zero upside with thinking out loud in the on-the-record presence of a reporter. Unless you have the internal green light from your management to float a trial balloon, the practice of speculating about the future is inherently dangerous.

And if you do venture into the hypothetical minefield, mind your own knitting (one metaphor following another),

Calhoun’s greatest sin in the eyes of Almost DailyBrett was conjecturing out loud about the business future of one of Boeing’s customers. That’s the carrier’s prerogative and responsibility, not Boeing, the B2B supplier.

Boeing’s PR department deserves more than its fair share of blame for this gaffe. Today was a bad choice at the worst time possible.

Calhoun was not adequately media trained, particularly when it comes to never answering hypotheticals.

https://www.nbcnews.com/business/business-news/coronavirus-pandemic-could-force-major-u-s-airline-out-business-n1205036

http://www.boeing.com/company/bios/david-l-calhoun.page

 

 

“ … You could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call the ‘Basket of Deplorables’. Right? The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic — you name it.” – Hillary Clinton, Speaking at a Democratic-oriented fundraiser, Sept. 9, 2016hillarydeplorables

“ … There are 47 percent who are with him (Obama), who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe that government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you name it … And so my job is not to worry about those people.” – Mitt Romney, Speaking at a Republican-oriented fundraiser, Sept. 18, 2012

A gaffe is a gaffe is a gaffe … You name it! … Uttered by two electoral losers and separated by four years, plus a week or two.

It is never a good idea to insult literally millions of potential voters with a series of unfortunate and intemperate fighting words. So why engage in name calling just because the immediate audience is friendly and having a great time at the expense of others?

As Nancy Reagan would say: “Just say no.”

In our digital age, the microphones are more sensitive and effective than ever. The tiny cameras and video recorders are disguised as smart phones, and they’re first rate. They are always ‘on,’ which means the candidates too must be always ‘on.’

Almost DailyBrett has repeatedly and consistently counseled that it is always wise to be offensive without being offensive. Advance and advocate your point of view, but always be respectful of all voters. They are more than mere demographics to be hunted down with search engines guided by algorithms.

There are many shaking their heads and washing their hands wondering why Hillary Clinton is not forming an administration today. The same was true, questioning why Mitt Romney was not preparing his inaugural address four years ago.romney47

The simple answer is both were seriously flawed candidates, who twice embarked upon a presidential campaign odyssey (Hillary, 2008 and 2016; Mitt, 2008 and 2012) and came up short.

Breaking the Blue Wall

“Wow, Hillary Clinton was SO INSULTING to my supporters, millions of amazing, hard-working people. I think it will cost her at the Polls!” – President-elect Donald Trump Tweet about Hillary’s ‘Basket of Deplorables’ comment

There were so many political experts who wondered out loud for weeks whether The Donald had a realistic Electoral College road-map to the Presidency. They used Poker analogies to suggest that Trump had to run an unlikely, inside-straight to win.

Pundit thinking and conventional wisdom revolved around the conjecture that all of the Barack Obama states from 2008 and 2012 were safely tucked away behind the Blue (State) Wall (e.g., Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa).bluewall

As it turned out, Trump did not have a perfect poker hand as he lost Virginia and Colorado, but did manage to hold Florida, North Carolina and Ohio. The real damage occurred as die blaue Mauer crumbled, overturning the Keystone, Wolverine, Dairy and Hawkeye States and their collective 52 electoral votes and placing them into Trump’s red column.

As the ballots are still being counted, Trump won more than 60 million votes. How many of these people were offended about being pigeonholed as racist, sexist, xenophobic, homophobic Deplorables? The fundraising audience laughed at her description and answered affirmatively to Hillary’s question, “Right?”

To be fair, Almost DailyBrett must point out that Hillary subsequently apologized for this unfortunate stereotype, but the toothpaste was already out of the tube, the bell had already been wrung, the bullet was already out of the chamber …

Was the ‘Deplorables’ remark the only reason that Hillary lost the presidency to a seriously flawed alternative? The answer is obviously negative, and all of the post-mortems will point to a litany of reasons, some valid, some not.

This blog on several occasions (e.g., Outrageous Al Smith Memorial Dinner remarks) scored Trump for time-after-time failing to demonstrate political discipline.

As it turns out he was not the only one, who strayed off script and may have caused a wall to crumble and for a new era to begin.

One must wonder whether Hillary is waking up in the middle of the night and thinking: ‘What could have been …?’

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-politics/wp/2016/09/09/clinton-half-of-trumps-supporters-fit-in-basket-of-deplorables/

https://newrepublic.com/article/138615/deplorables-got-last-laugh

http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2012/09/full-transcript-mitt-romney-secret-video

 

 

“ … Stuff happens, there’s always a crisis and the impulse is always to do something and it’s not necessarily the right thing to do.” – Jeb Bush speaking at the Conservative Leadership Project

“I don’t even think I have to react to that one. The American people should hear that.” – President Barack Obama

Close your eyes for a nanosecond …

Imagine a PAC-funded 30-second attack ad. There is the aerial view of a community college in Central Oregon. Nine dead. There are emergency vehicles. A SWOT team risking their lives. Perhaps, spent bullet casings. Maybe there is even blood on the walls … a horrific scene.umpqua

Next there is a chart listing contributions to former Florida Governor John Ellis Bush or “Jeb” from gun interests, including the always warm-and-fuzzy National Rifle Association.

And finally: Video of Jeb essentially dismissing the latest mass shooting, “Stuff happens.”

Presidential? Don’t think so.

Quoted out of context? The Mother of All Weak Alibis.

A gaffe? Certainly.

Campaign defining? Could be.

Rhetorical Discipline?

Remember former Texas Governor Rick Perry’s “Oops” moment, failing to remember a major federal cabinet-level agency he wanted to abolish? He never recovered in both the 2012 and 2016 presidential cycles.

Or how about Mary Gatter, a Planned Parenthood medical director, saying “I want a Lamborghini” in the context of selling fetal organs for profit? The non-profit’s image and reputation has been irrevocably tarnished. It’s time for a rebrand.

And now we have Jeb Bush and his version of caca happens in  response to eight students and one teacher losing their lives in the Southern Willamette Valley. When asked about the gaffe, Bush defensively and rhetorically  asked whether it would be better, if he had said, “Things happen.”

Former Fla. Gov. Jeb Bush speaks at the Hispanic Leadership Network conference, Thursday, April 18, 2013 in Coral Gables, Fla. Bush says he applauds the comprehensive reform bill formally unveiled Thursday in Washington and told conference attendees the bill tries to balance the immigrant experience and respect for the rule of law. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

Sorry Governor, “things” is a distinction without a difference. How about cutting your losses and quickly admitting that you misspoke and clarify your remarks?

The image that comes across is someone who is more interested in appeasing and pacifying the firearm lobby than to demonstrate concern about gun violence. Couldn’t you have discussed enforcing the myriad of gun laws on the books and implementing the death penalty for brazen mass murder? Or how about expressing concern about the influence of violent video games and movies that portray mass killing as recreation?

Instead, the response from a two-term governor from a major swing state is “stuff happens.” As a former press secretary, I winced when I heard the news.

Pathetic, downright pathetic.

“Stuff” and “You Know”

As a college professor of public relations writing and presentations among other subjects, the author of Almost DailyBrett has strongly cautioned students about using the words, “Stuff” and “You Know.”

What is “stuff”? Is it bigger than a bread box? What constitutes “stuff”? Or is “stuff” just a crutch word to throw into a presentation when one is nervous. Once “stuff” becomes ingrained, it is a hard habit to break, similar to nicotine’s deadly hold on smokers.

Equally egregious are the words, “You know.”

U-No disease in college classrooms is as prevalent as cock-roaches. Once you hear one, the next one is not far behind. Many times, yours truly has kept a count of how many “you knows” pops up in any presentation. Sorry, I don’t know the exact circumstances about what you are talking about, so why are you implying that I do know?

These are two-more addictive words, and they are difficult to shake.

So why is the former Governor with a bachelor’s degree from the University of Texas using such a sophomoric word/phrase in such a horrific context?

Eternal Digital Audio and Video

All 44 presidents, particularly those in the modern era, live under the constant glare of our digital media on steroids.presidentialpodium

Do you think that Messrs. Obama, Clinton and Nixon would like to take back “Jayvee team,” “…Did not have sex with that woman” and “I am not a crook” respectively? Almost DailyBrett is not equating the three, other than to say they are all mistakes.

“Stuff happens” brings into question whether Jeb has the temperament, sensitivity and discipline to serve as the unquestioned leader of the free world.

And if Jeb does indeed overcome this rhetorical debacle and attain the presidency, will the electorate simply dismiss anything and everything  that goes wrong – horrifically wrong – by simply shrugging, “stuff happens”?

Don’t think so.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-politics/wp/2015/10/02/when-asked-about-school-shootings-jeb-bush-says-stuff-happens/?wpmm=1&wpisrc=nl_headlines

http://www.nytimes.com/politics/first-draft/2015/10/02/jeb-bush-is-criticized-for-saying-stuff-happens-in-reaction-to-oregon-shooting/?_r=0

http://www.cnn.com/2015/10/02/us/oregon-umpqua-community-college-shooting/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2015/08/02/never-say-in-private-what-you-wouldnt-say-in-public/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeb_Bush

 

 

 

 

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