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Sunday Political Brunch: Political Crazy Talk - May 14, 2017

Sunday, May 14, 2017


Mark Curtis

Sometimes politicians open their mouths and say things that maybe they shouldn’t. Words matter, and they have consequences. On so many occasions I know politicians wish they could take their words back. This week we’ve seen a lot of statements the authors would likely want to walk back. But “closing the barn door after the horse escapes” is an often-futile exercise. Let’s “brunch” on that this week:

“If the Dead Could Speak” – Despite all the controversy over what President Trump said this week, I don’t think he wins first prize. That award goes to Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID) who said at a town hall meeting, “Nobody dies because they don't have access to health care." No matter where you stand politically on Obamacare – left, or right - people die every day because of a lack of access to health care. You can imagine this ill-advised soundbite being aired over and over in the 2018 campaign ads.

“Trump ‘Trumps’ Trump!” – Just when you think he can’t top his last headline, he does. This week President Trump tweeted after firing the FBI Director, "James Comey better hope that there are no 'tapes' of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press.” Trump was referring to calls and dinner at the White House with Comey (photo above), before dismissing him. Mr. Trump also said Comey told him that the President was not under investigation. Tapes? No tapes? Secret recordings? To many, this sounds strangely reminiscent of President Nixon’s administration, where the tapes – and gaps - ultimately cost him the White House. Stay tuned!

“It Happens” – As I’ve mentioned, politicians have quotes they wish they could take back. A case in point, Hillary Clinton’s comments about the coal industry in her run for the White House. “We’re going to put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business,” said former Secretary Clinton as she campaigned on a new energy platform. It came back to haunt her as she lost West Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, and other coal producing states in 2016. Quotes like this can turn tides. In 2008, Hillary Clinton beat Barack Obama in the West Virginia primary by 42 points. Eight years later she was crushed by Sen. Bernie Sanders who won all 55 counties in the Mountain State.

“Obamacare Scare” – If you wonder why the efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare have gained such momentum over the past seven years, consider this famous quote from President Obama: "If you like the plan you have, you can keep it. If you like the doctor you have, you can keep your doctor, too. The only change you’ll see are falling costs as our reforms take hold." said Mr. Obama. Well a lot of people wound up losing their coverage, and their preferred doctor, or, they paid more to keep their health plan. As mentioned, words matter.

“Did He Really Just Say That?” – I deal with a lot of political press secretaries who must do damage control after the boss “misspeaks.” My favorite is President George W. Bush speaking about terrorism in August 2004, “Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we.” Ouch!!! As I often say, the worst political wounds are usually self-inflicted.

“Why All of This Matters” – Look, politicians misspeak. I get that. In the blur of the spotlight or on the campaign trail politicians say things that are just inaccurate. Sometimes you can blame it on fatigue, or poor fact gathering. On the other hand, politicians sometimes deliberately say things to mislead the press and public. How do you tell the difference? It’s hard to sort out fact from fiction. On one hand, you have political hyperbole that exaggerates the truth; other times they are just bald face lies. It’s important to have a free and unfettered press, and an always highly skeptical public to try to sort it all out.

What is your favorite political “misspeak?” Just click the comment button on http://www.MarkCurtisMedia.com.


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