I think journalists over-emphasize gaffes because they think it is a point of fact they can point to without being criticized by either side for being biased. They feel they're not allowed to say that someone's tax cut plan is terrible and will put a huge hole in the national budget. That might be true, but conventional wisdom says an objective reporter is not allowed to say that. Gaffes, on the other hand, are clear and can be pounced on.
So, here is his latest possible gaffe, brought to our attention by a Young Turks listener, Rich Kelly. Senator McCain said this to George Stephanopoulos in his interview on Sunday:
MCCAIN: I believe that, when he said that we had to leave Iraq, and we had to be out by last March, and we had to have a date certain, that was in contravention to -- and still is -- the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General David Petraeus.
Of course, Gen. Petraeus is not the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Admiral Mike Mullen is. That is a terrible mistake, if he really meant that. This is supposed to be his field of expertise and he has talked about Gen. Petraeus approximately one billion times.
I went back and watched the video of the interview about four times. It is possible to argue that he meant Gen. Petraeus and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. But that is not what he said.
We have the video. Do you think it was nothing but a simple slip of the tongue? How many of these slips do we need to experience before we get nervous of a larger pattern?