Top 10 Famous Gaffes by Politicians

Sometimes politicians just get it completely wrong, perhaps more often than they get it right. They spend so much effort cultivating a certain image, but sometimes the lies or politician inadequacies are uncovered. It is probably wrong to find amusement in these mistakes or weaknesses, but that is what we shall do. Here are ten famous gaffes that politicians wish that they could wash off, however, they are most probably permanently stained.

1. Potatoe

Between 1989 and 1993, Dan Quayle was Vice President of the United States. You probably remember the name, however, no one really remembers him for this aforementioned fact. He is symbolic of the fact that politicians can be permanently stained by the errors. He became famous when he was sitting in on a spelling bee in a primary school in New York in 1992. He called out the word written on his card for the student. Then when the student wrote “potato” on the blackboard, he checked his card before showing his spelling skills and told him that he should add an “e” on the end – “potatoe”. The student either believed him or was very polite and did just that. However, the media was not so forgiving.

2. Marry the Son of Berlusconi

Former Italian Prime Minister and business empire owner, Silvio Berlusconi is value for money when it comes to inappropriate comments. He is well known about his comments about women, but sometimes he went too far. While on the campaign trail in 2008 he took participation in a TV debate where voters asked him questions. One young girl was concerned about the economy and was wondering about job prospects. The answer, “Try to marry the son of Berlusconi… with a smile like yours, you could try.” You can always count on Silvio for some good sound bites.

3. The Bombing Begins in 5 Minutes

Sometimes politicians say something when they think the microphone is off. It pays to believe that someone can always hear you. Ronald Reagan forgot this when he was doing a sound check. He was doing the sound check before an interview when he said, “My fellow Americans, I am pleased to tell you I just

signed legislation which outlaws Russia forever. The bombing begins in five minutes.” A presidential joke, but unfortunately the microphone was on and the whole nation could hear it broadcast. World War III was avoided though and so we can now laugh at the gaff.

4. They Just Need to Stop Doing This

George Bush is another politician well known for his gaffes. Perhaps his best was the following. During a G8 conference Bush informed Tony Blair of the solution to the Middle East crisis: “The thing is that what they need to do is get Syria to get Hezbollah to stop doing this — and it’s over.” A few days later peace reigned over the region. People the world over thanked George for his help in developing a new peace for a variety of conflicts all over the world.

5. Bigoted Woman

While on the campaign trail, then Prime Minister of the UK, Gordon Brown, got into his car and called the woman he had just been talking to a “bigoted woman”. It was to come back to haunt him a few days later when someone anonymously sent in the tape to a radio station and it was played back for him to comment on, live on air.

6. My Bowling is Like Watching the Special Olympics

Whilst attempting to impress voters in Pennsylvania, Barack Obama took to the bowling alley. His score of 37 was widely mocked in the papers and by anyone who has tried to bowl. As one comedian put it, “He bowls like my 4 year old daughter.” The bowling situation only got worse when Obama tried to joke about it a few months later whilst appearing on The Tonight Show With Jay Leno. The joke didn’t go down to well when he compared his bowling to the Special Olympics. He ended up issuing an apology shortly afterwards for both his bowling and his comments.

7. Shooting Lawyers

Dan Quayle isn’t the only vice president made famous for his actions rather than his politics. When Dick Cheney mistook a 78-year-old lawyer for a “Quayle” he became the first sitting vice president to shoot a man since Alexander Hamilton. The lawyer survived, Dick Cheney’s reputation didn’t. Luckily he never ascended to the office of president, where misreading a situation could have even more severe consequences.

8. A Few Too Many

At one of his first G8 conferences, French President Nicolas Sarkozy obviously wasn’t aware that Vladimir Putin is a Russian and that for Russians, drinking vodka is like drinking water. He had a long conversation with Putin during the G8 Summit in 2007, and they shared a few drinks together. Unfortunately, Sarkozy had forgotten he had to do a press conference right after, and he could do nothing apart from trying to stay standing on his feet. It was the most entertaining press conference of the summit.

9. Stand Up Chuck

In an awkward moment during a campaign stop in 2008, then Senator Joe Biden took a moment to recognize fellow politician, Chuck Graham. “Stand up, Chuck, let ’em see you,” Biden said. He hadn’t looked to see that Graham was in a wheelchair. There was nowhere for Joe to hide as the cameras turned to Chuck sitting in his wheelchair.

10. 57 States

Campaigning for elections can be tough work. Legend says that while campaigning in 2008, then candidate, now President Barack Obama said he had visited more states than there actually are. “I’ve now been in 57 states,” he said. “I think one left to go.” Maybe those secret extra states explain how he got elected.

In some ways it is nice to know that our politicians are human. However, we want to elect people that we can believe in and who obviously believe in the policies they promote. However, when news channels insist on showing meaningless sound bites, the chances are we will have meaningless politicians and their gaffes.

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