On Twitter, Sunny Hundal has been calling on Gordon Brown to deliver a Obama-style, post-Jeremiah Wright speech on race, immigration and integration in the wake of his “bigot” gaffe. Forget Jeremiah Wright — Barack Obama himself, the man who can do no wrong, has made a few gaffes of his own — and lived to tell the tale.
Here are my top four:
1) After being asked by Jay Leno about his bowling scores, and confessing to a “129” in the White House bowling alley, Obama then said:
It’s like — it was like the Special Olympics, or something.
As soon as he was back on his plane home from the New York recording of Leno’s show, Obama called the head of the Special Olympics, Tim Shriver, to say sorry.
2) When the Harvard academic Henry Louis Gates, a friend of Obama’s, was arrested after a suspected break-in at his own home, the president told reporters at a live news conference:
I think it’s fair to say, No. 1, any of us would be pretty angry. No. 2, that the Cambridge police acted stupidly in arresting somebody when there was already proof that they were in their own home. And No. 3 — what I think we know separate and apart from this incident — is that there is a long history in this country of African Americans and Latinos being stopped by law enforcement disproportionately, and that’s just a fact.
Later, Obama said he regretted the use of the word “stupid” and for “ratcheting up” the row, and admitted he could have “calibrated those words differently”.
3) During the presidential primary campaign, Obama was recorded at a private fundraiser explaining why he thought the residents of hard-pressed communities grew angry:
You go into these small towns in Pennsylvania and, like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing’s replaced them. And it’s not surprising, then, they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.
Having been accused by his then rival Hillary Clinton of making “demeaning remarks”, Obama conceded the next day, at a rally in Indiana, that his description had been clumsy and had not conveyed the intended meaning.
4) At his first news conference after winning the 2008 presidential election, Obama said he had spoken to all the living presidents for advice ahead of entering the White House. He then added:
I didn’t want to get into a Nancy Reagan thing about doing any seances.
Mrs Reagan was said to have consulted astrologers but did not hold seances. Obama later had to call her to apologise personally for the “careless and off-handed remark” that he had made.