Though Vice President Joe Biden has the reputation in the Obama administration for being a veritable gaffe machine, the man at whose pleasure he serves is getting some attention of his own from mainstream media for putting a presidential stamp on mangling the English language.
The Los Angeles Times reported Friday on a gaffe uttered by Pres. Barack Obama during his vaunted jobs tour, a clumsy misuse of the word “intercontinental” to describe America’s transcontinental achievement in building a railroad connecting the Western and Eastern United States in the middle of the 19th century.
L.A. Times political commentator Andrew Malcolm proudly wrote with glee about his discovery:
A railroad between continents? A railroad from, say, New York City all the way across the Atlantic to France? Now, THAT would be a bridge!
It’s yet another humorous gaffe by the Harvard graduate, overlooked by most media for whatever reason. Like Obama saying Abraham-Come-Lately Lincoln was the founder of the Republican Party. Or Navy corpseman. Or the Austrian language. Fifty-seven states. The president of Canada. Etc.
Malcolm, of course, is as much the discoverer of a gaffe-prone Obama as Columbus was the discoverer of America. Specifically, this very gaffe has been a habit of Obama and chief political adviser David Axelrod for years. From our story of June 8, 2011:
Warner Todd Huston of Publius’ Forum and John Sexton of Verum Serum have been reporting on a growing ‘intercontinental’ crisis infecting the Obama administration.
Since 2009, Obama and high-level officials within his campaign and White House administrations have cited Pres. Abraham Lincoln’s achievement of pushing through America’s intercontinental railroad as good government policy. In fact, it was not an intercontinental railroad—one that would connect two continents, such as North America and Asia—that Lincoln promoted, but a transcontinental one that traversed our single continent as the Transcontinental Railroad did.
The gaffe was not a one-time slip of the tongue, however. Sexton and Huston have been aided by other bloggers in uncovering at least four separate occasions where the term intercontinental has been misused in the same context.
Obama used the term ‘intercontinental railroad’ in a University of Michigan commencement speech in 2009 and a Florida town hall the same year (jump to 5:10 in video after link). Chief Obama campaign strategist David Axelrod went ‘intercontinental’ at the Aspen Ideas Festival as recently as this past weekend.
Malcolm, we’re just glad you’ve finally arrived.
[photo credit: aelita]