Friday, May 16, 2008

Gaffes on Tour

When I was still in High School, I remember my mom talking to me about early teaching experiences she had back in 1966-67. I can't quite remember what grade she said she was teaching at the time, though I do remember looking at the school yearbook she showed me--mom with a blond French twist, her broad smile, the students' black-and-white postage-stamp-sized pictures, the girls' cat-eye glasses--perhaps it was fourth or fifth grade. Mom was teaching the Religion portion of the school day and she asked the class "What is Salvation?" A boy's hand shot up after some thought.

"Salvation is an Army," the boy said.

Mother tried to clarify her question and re-posed it. "So, what is Salvation?"

"Salvation is an Army," came the boy's reply.

Yesterday our President made a speech in Israel that made a lot of people mad. The main thing government officials got bent up about is that Bush broke an unwritten rule of form that one does not criticise members of the American government while on foreign soil. What upset others, and should be a bigger deal, is that Bush, in his speech, managed to confuse the idea of appeasement with the idea of diplomatic discussion, which Chris Matthews pointed out in his trainwreck of a discussion with Kevin James (where did he come from?) and Mark Green. It's about 9 minutes, but worth watching:

Chris Matthews has certainly not had a spotless record at pointing out bullshit when it came up on his show, and Kevin James certainly didn't make the Neville Chamberlain reference, but perhaps this will mark the beginning of a change wherein in order to be a political commentator we will get more than a couple of phrases designed to do damage to someone's campaign or policy at the expense of actually answering the questions and participating in a dialogue. What reminded me of my mother's teaching experience forty years ago was Kevin James' unvarying (and illogical--the question wasn't what he thought Neville Chamberlain was but, simply, what did Chamberlain do) response to Matthews' question. As was mentioned in the clip. When you're in a hole, stop digging.

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