There can’t be a politician anywhere, who hasn’t said something that was either exactly what they were thinking but shouldn’t have said or has said something in good faith when caution or judgement should have told them to keep quiet.
A gaffe, as American political journalist Michael Kinsley explained, is when a politician tells the truth.
1. Mitt RomneyCredit: Mark Nassal
Mitt Romney’s attempt to torpedo the Republican chances of toppling the Democrats with his now famous speech puts him in very good company:
"They will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47% who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to healthcare, to food, to housing, to you-name-it. That that's an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what … These are people who pay no income tax …
My job is not to worry about those people. I'll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives."
Sarah Palin, sealed her fate and destroyed her chances of ever coming to serious power with a series of mistakes and misquotes which underlined her lack of experience and knowledge, none more so than when she famously stated “obviously, we’ve got to stand with our North Korean allies” on Glenn Beck’s radio show in November 2010. This was compounded by a tacit admission that she was poorly prepared when responding to a question about which newspapers she read and she stated “All of 'em, any of 'em that have been in front of me over all these years.”
3. George Bush (USA)
Mind you, Ms Palin obviously comes from a long line of right of centre politicians with high IQs, one can never forget George Bush and his “Bushisms” for instance, with gems such as "I want to share with you an interesting program - for two reasons, one, it's interesting, and two, my wiCredit: World Economic Forumfe thought of it - or has actually been involved with it; she didn't think of it. But she thought of it for this speech."
It is sometimes even possible to feel some sympathy for President George Bush; after all it is unlikely he had a hand in writing the White House Press Kit Biography of Silvio Berlusconi, issued to journalists before the G8 Summit, which read:
“Berlusconi was one of the most controversial leaders in the history of a country known for governmental corruption and vice”, it goes on to say “Primarily a businessman with massive holdings and influence in international media, he was regarded by many as a political dilettante who gained his high office only through use of his considerable influence on the national media until he was forced out of office in 2006”
A hastily written apology, extolling President Bush’s high regard for his Italian counterpart was sent, on behalf of the White House and the President, claiming the document did not represent the views of the President, the American Government or the American People.
4. Silvio Burlesconi (Italy)
When talking about Signor Berlusconi , it’s hard to know where to start, the former billlionaire Italian Prime Minister, like Mitt, George and Sarah, has a long list of Freudian slips to his name, from explaining that his response to the economic crisis gripping the world was different to Obama’s because “I’m paler” to likening German MEP Martin Schulz to a “concentration camp guard”, Berlusconi has made a career out of saying the wrong things and by and large getting away with it.
5. Presidents Obama and Sarkozy
Of course, even though Romney may be struggling right now, his opponent hasn’t always faired so well, in a conversation they both thought was private, Obama and then French President Nicholas Sarkozy were caught with their microphones still switched, and overheard moaning about Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, first Sarkozy is quoted as saying in French “I can’t stand him anymore, he’s a liar” to which President Obama responded “You may be sick of him, I have to deal with him every day.”
6. Gordon Brown (United Kingdom)
In another microphone related mistake, the UK’s last Labour Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, lost himself and his party thousands of votes in the run up to the 2010 general election when he was caught off camera, but still on a live microphone calling Gillian Duffy a “bigoted woman” after she harangued him with her concerns about immigration. After apologising just 45 minutes later on a live radio interview, filmed with his head in his hands, he then in a desperate attempt to reverse his disastrous fortunes, spent an hour with Ms. Duffy trying to placate her, it was all to no avail however as he was forced to concede defeat to the coalition government led by David Cameron only a few months later.
7. Bill Shorton (Australia)
Australian politicians have an enviable record in not putting their foot in it as often as their UK or US counterparts, but that didn’t stop Bill Shorton expressing loyalty for his Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, when he admitted he had no idea what her position was and said “My view is what the Prime Minister’s view is... I’m sure she’s right.”
8. Ilias Kasidairis (Greece)
Perhaps though we should be grateful that most gaffes are just politicians actually saying what they are really thinking, in Greece however, once the birthplace of democracy, and now of course struggling under the weight of international pressure, things turned physical on a live TV debate.
Neo-Nazi MP Ilias Kasidairis, of the far-right “Golden Dawn” party lost his temper when Rena Dourou declared that his party would take Greece back five-hundred years. Jumping out of his seat he threw a glass of water over the female deputy of Greece’s radical Syriza party before attacking and slapping Liana Kanelli the KKE Communist party’s spokeswoman after she threw a newspaper at him.
9. Angela Merkel (Germany)
Angela Merkel, German Chancellor, attempted to put more pressure on the Greeks by suggesting that their economic misfortunes were due to the fact they don’t work as long as the Germans. One can only imagine her discomfort on being shown the UK Office for National Statistics “Hours worked in the labour market” report from 2011 which showed that on average the Greeks top the list and have the longest working week out of the 27 European Union states, with Germany third from bottom.
10. David Cameron (United Kingdom)
Sometimes politicians don’t even have to say anything, they just have to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, like UK Prime Minister David Cameron, who was pictured standing outside ailing fashion store chain “Peacocks”. Unfortunately for the PM the first three letters of the logo were obscured by some balloons leaving a cartoon impression of what he just might have been thinking about.
Only time will tell if Mitt Romney’s comments will be sufficient to destroy all hope of a return to Republicanism this year (2012), however, the media continues to fall over itself to catch these people tripping up, these people who we so want to be infallible (but never will be) and so lead us to the financial and cultural stability that they promise and we demand.
At least, if all else fails, we can have a bit of fun laughing at them!