News & Politics

How Many Can You Name? 35 Obama Gaffes to Make Biden Feel Better About Himself

(Rex Features via AP Images)

Lately, it seems we can’t go a day without a new gaffe from Joe Biden. When you have to tell your supporters “I’m not going nuts,” it’s clear things aren’t exactly going well for you. So, to make Joe Biden feel better I thought it would be nice to compile the top thirty-five gaffes from Barack Obama, the man whose coattails Joe Biden is so desperately trying to ride.

35. Obama doesn’t know what committee he’s on

While speaking in Israel during his first presidential campaign, Obama claimed to be on a committee that he was not on. “Just this past week, we passed out of the U.S. Senate Banking Committee — which is my committee — a bill to call for divestment from Iran as a way of ratcheting up the pressure to ensure that they don’t obtain a nuclear weapon.”

34. Plagiarizing his campaign speech

We all know that Biden’s first presidential campaign was thwarted by revelations of plagiarism. Obama was also discovered to have plagiarized a campaign speech. Perhaps that’s really why he picked Biden as his running mate, they had that in common.

In 2006, former Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick said the following in a campaign speech:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal’-just words. Just words. ‘We have nothing to fear but fear itself’-just words. ‘Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country’-just words. ‘I have a dream’-just words,”

In 2008, Obama said these words in his own campaign speech:

“Don’t tell me words don’t matter! ‘I have a dream.’ Just words. ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.’ Just words. ‘We have nothing to fear but fear itself.’ Just words, just speeches,”

Obama obviously survived the scandal, unlike Joe Biden.

33. Bumbling after a teleprompter fail

Obama gets a lot of credit for being a great orator, but when his teleprompter fails, he sounds like a second-grader trying to remember lines in a school play. Here’s a classic example:

32. Getting his own daughter’s age wrong

In June 2011, while talking about his daughters, Obama said, “Malia And Sasha generally finish their homework a day ahead of time. Malia’s 13, Sasha’s 10. It is impressive.” What’s not so impressive is that Malia was only 12 years old at the time. Is it really possible that any parent could get their own child’s age wrong?

31. Referring to his wife as “Michael”

While speaking at the retirement ceremony of Admiral Mike Mullen in 2011, Obama referred to his wife Michelle as Michael. “Most of all, Admiral Mullen, Deborah, Michael and I also want to also acknowledge your son Jack, who’s deployed today. All of you have performed extraordinary service to our country.” This was another gaffe that Obama surely regrets, as it is still often cited by conspiracy theorists who absurdly believe that Michelle Obama is a transgender woman.

30. Obama refers to his “Muslim faith”

Speaking of conspiracy theories, there’s another one that Obama is secretly a Muslim and during a 2008 interview with George Stephanopoulos, in addressing whether John McCain’s campaign was involved with rumors that Obama was Muslim, Obama said, “What I was suggesting — you’re absolutely right that John McCain has not talked about my Muslim faith. And you’re absolutely right that that has not come.” This gaffe was particularly bad because it took George Stephanopoulos to correct him, by quickly interjecting “Christian faith,” while Obama continued talking.

29. When he insulted the Special Olympics

This gaffe is so cringe-worthy because it’s impossible to imagine any other candidate for president getting away with such an insensitive comment. Just a couple months into his presidency, Obama appeared on “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno” and in response to a question about the White House bowling alley, Obama said, “I have been practicing…I bowled a 129. It’s like — it was like Special Olympics or something.”

28. The Intercontinental Railroad

During a 2011 photo op in Cincinnati, Ohio, meant to promote his jobs plan, Obama declared: “We’re the country that built the Intercontinental Railroad.” Really? Imagine if Trump said such a thing.

27. Calling Hawaii “Asia”

During a 2011 press conference in Hawaii, Obama mistakenly referred to Hawaii, his birth state, as part of Asia. “When I meet with world leaders, what’s striking — whether it’s in Europe or here in Asia…” Obama was in the middle of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit at the time, but still.

26. Can’t spell “respect”

How do you screw this up? While honoring the legendary Aretha Franklin at the White House in 2014, Obama flubbed the spelling of Aretha’s song “Respect” as “R-S-P-E-C-T.” The mistake was so embarrassing that the official White House transcript, in a truly Orwellian fashion, showed Obama spelling the word correctly.

25. Too much money?

During a 2010 speech in Illinois about Wall Street reform, Obama declared “ I do think at a certain point you’ve made enough money.” How much money is “enough money” to Obama? Well, it must be above the $60 million advances he and Michelle got for their memoirs, or the multi-year deal they signed with Netflix. After all, how else are they to afford their multi-million dollar mansions?

24. “Jeffrey” Osborne

In 2013, Barack Obama repeatedly called British finance minister George Osborne “Jeffrey” at the G8 summit, apparently confusing him with American soul singer Jeffrey Osborne.

23. What plagues the Middle East?

During a town hall in Tampa, Fla., in 2010, Obama said, in response to a question about alleged human rights violations against the “occupied Palestinian people” by Israel and Egypt, “Look, look, look, the Middle East is obviously an issue that has plagued the region for centuries.  And it’s an issue that elicits a lot of passions, as you heard.” Facepalm.

22. When he accidentally made the case against government-run healthcare

While trying to make the case for government-run healthcare in Portsmouth, N.H., in 2009, Obama said, “UPS and FedEx are doing just fine, right? It’s the Post Office that’s always having problems,” completely undercutting his point.

21. His “acted stupidly” comment

When African American Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. was arrested after forcibly trying to enter his Cambridge home, Obama was quick to pass judgment on the arresting officer, and declared, “The Cambridge police acted stupidly.” He eventually walked back the comment, though he never apologized, and he attempted to repair the damaged from his irresponsible comment by inviting the police officer and the professor to the White House for a “Beer Summit.”

20. Saying Obamacare would bring greater “inefficiencies”

While Obama was trying to sell Obamacare to the public he declared, “The reforms we seek would bring greater competition, choice, savings, and inefficiencies to our health care system.” Some might call it a brief moment of truth, but Obama obviously didn’t mean to let that truth slip.

19. Thinking ‘Austrian” is a language

You can almost feel embarrassed for him over this gaffe, made during a news conference in Strasbourg, France in 2009:

It was also interesting to see that political interaction in Europe is not that different from the United States Senate. There’s a lot of — I don’t know what the term is in Austrian — wheeling and dealing — and, you know, people are pursuing their interests, and everybody has their own particular issues and their own particular politics.

I’m sure someone eventually told him that there is no such language as Austrian.

18. Obama sees dead people

Joe Biden may have once asked a disabled man to stand up, but Obama once said he saw fallen soldiers in the crowd during a 2008 Memorial Day event in New Mexico. “On this Memorial Day, as our nation honors its unbroken line of fallen heroes — and I see many of them in the audience here today — our sense of patriotism is particularly strong.”

17. Tragedy mix-ups

Gaffes made in reference to tragedies are particularly embarrassing. On the campaign trail in  2007, Obama got the death toll of a Kansas tornado horribly wrong. “In case you missed it, this week, there was a tragedy in Kansas. Ten thousand people died — an entire town destroyed,” he said. The Kansas tornado had actually killed 12 people.

In 2013, he made another gaffe involving a tornado, when he called Moore, Okla., a town that was devastated by twisters, by the wrong name. “We’re going to be there for the folks in Monroe, Okla., after the devastation of last week.” Obama had just visited the town two days earlier.

16. Calling his grandmother a “typical white person”

And here’s where Obama said something really racist involving his own grandmother in 2008. “The point I was making was not that Grandmother harbors any racial animosity. She doesn’t. But she is a typical white person, who, if she sees somebody on the street that she doesn’t know, you know, there’s a reaction that’s been bred in our experiences that don’t go away and that sometimes come out in the wrong way, and that’s just the nature of race in our society.”

15. “Polish” death camps?

This gaffe is so bad it’s hard not cringe in response to it. During a 2012 Presidential Medal of Freedom ceremony, Obama awarded the nation’s high civilian honor posthumously to WWII Polish-resistance officer Jan Karski, and during his speech noted that his fellow resistance fighters “smuggled him into the Warsaw Ghetto and a Polish death camp behind enemy lines to witness the atrocities firsthand.” The remark was not only historically inaccurate, but highly offensive, and the White House had to apologize for the remark.

14. Foreign policy gaffes on Europe trip

In 2014, Obama made two major foreign policy gaffes during a trip to Europe. While speaking in Brussels, Obama said, “…Kosovo only left Serbia after a referendum was organised not outside the boundaries of international law, but in careful cooperation with the United Nations and with Kosovo’s neighbours.” This was completely wrong. Milos Subotic, the International Relations Officer of the University of Pristina, Kosovo, explained to Breitbart London that Obama’s mistake “showed a lack of knowledge of the political situation” in Kosovo. “Kosovo never organised any kind of referendum, but the Assembly of Provisional Institutions of self-government of Kosovo made a unilateral declaration of independence on February 17th 2008.” He added, “What Kosovo did was not in line with United Nations and that’s confirmed by the fact that Kosovo is not a member of the UN.”

Obama also potentially undermined the nation of Georgia’s application to join NATO when he incorrectly suggested that Georgia was “not currently on a path to NATO membership” even though they had been since 2008.

13. Medal of Honor mix-up

In 2011, Obama made a horrible mistake addressing the 10th Mountain Division at Fort Drum.

“First time I saw 10th Mountain Division, you guys were in southern Iraq. When I went back to visit Afghanistan, you guys were the first ones there. I had the great honor of seeing some of you because a comrade of yours, Jared Monti, was the first person who I was able to award the Medal of Honor to who actually came back and wasn’t receiving it posthumously.”

Obama had gotten the name wrong. As the blog Blackfive noted, “As we all know, SSG Sal Giunta, of the 173rd Airborne, was the first living recipient (2011) of the MOH who fought in Iraq/Afganistan. SFC Jared Monti, 10th Mountain Division, was KIA in Afghanistan in 2006. He was posthumously awarded the MOH by Obama in 2009.”

“How does the Commander-in-Chief mix these heroes up?” wrote Blackfive. “He put that medal around Giunta’s neck and he stood with Monti’s parents as they grieved.”

12. “You didn’t build that”

Who can forget this slap in the face to self-made business people:

“If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen”

11. Calling France our biggest ally

America has a special relationship with Britain, but apparently no one told this to Obama because in 2011 he called France our biggest ally. “We don’t have a stronger friend and stronger ally than Nicolas Sarkozy, and the French people,” Obama said, in what was the latest of a long list of insults towards the UK.

10. English embassy?

When Iran protestors attacked the British Embassy in Tehran, Obama condemned the attack, but in doing so, referred to it as the “English Embassy” — apparently unaware that England is part of Great Britain, along with Scotland and Wales.

9. Bitter clingers

Before Joe Biden called Trump supporters “dregs of society,” or Hillary Clinton called them “deplorables,” Barack Obama had his own insult for a large number of Americans:

“You go into these small towns in Pennsylvania and, like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing’s replaced them. And they fell through the Clinton administration, and the Bush administration, and each successive administration has said that somehow these communities are gonna regenerate and they have not. And it’s not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy toward people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.”

8. Spread the wealth

One of Obama’s most famous gaffes was the unscripted comment he made to Joe the Plumber during a rally in Ohio a few weeks before the 2008 election.

“My attitude is that if the economy’s good for folks from the bottom up, it’s going be good for everybody. If you’ve got a plumbing business, you’re gonna be better off if you’ve got a whole bunch of customers who can afford to hire you, and right now everybody’s so pinched that business is bad for everybody, and I think when you spread the wealth around, it’s good for everybody.”

7. Egypt is not an ally?

In 2015, his seventh year in office I should remind you, Obama didn’t know that Egypt is an ally of the United States. “I don’t think that we would consider them an ally, but we do not consider them an enemy,” Obama said. The State Department had to correct Obama’s mistake afterwards. Talk about embarrassing.

6. “Israel is a strong friend of Israel’s”

Thanks for clearing this up, Obama. “Let me be absolutely clear. Israel is a strong friend of Israel’s. It will be a strong friend of Israel’s under a McCain…administration. It will be a strong friend of Israel’s under an Obama administration. So that policy is not going to change.”

5. Glocks vs. books

During a 2016 memorial service for Dallas police officers killed by sniper fire, Obama claimed,“We flood communities with so many guns that it is easier for a teenager to buy a Glock than get his hands on a computer or even a book.” I don’t care where you are on the issue of gun control, this was such a dumb thing to say that bears no resemblance to reality.

4. The private sector is doing fine?

In June of 2012, Obama defended his economic policies by claiming: “The private sector is doing fine.” His opponent Mitt Romney seized on the remark as evidence Obama was out of touch and Obama was forced to walk back the claim. “Listen, it is absolutely clear that the economy is not doing fine. That’s the reason I had the press conference. That’s why I spent yesterday, the day before yesterday, this past week, this past month, and this past year talking about how we can make the economy stronger.”

3. Mass delusion about mass shootings

“I say this every time we’ve got one of these mass shootings. This just doesn’t happen in other countries,” Obama said in December 2015 in the wake of the San Bernardino shooting. It’s a claim he had made many times before, and many times since, but what made this comment gaffe-worthy was that France had experienced two high profile mass shootings that year, including the shooting at Charlie Hebdo magazine. As Fox News reported at the time, “In just 2015, France suffered more casualties – killings and injuries – from mass public shootings than the U.S. has suffered during Obama’s entire presidency (508 to 424). This number includes the San Bernandino massacre on Wednesday.”

2. Can’t pronounce corpsman

After eight years of the left poking fun at George W. Bush for verbal gaffes and questioning his intelligence, it’s amazing that Obama so often got a pass for his mistakes, like when in 2010 Obama mispronounced “corpsman” as “corpse-man” during the National Prayer Breakfast  “One such translator was an American of Haitian descent, representative of the extraordinary work that our men and women in uniform do all around the world — Navy Corpse-Man Christian Brossard.” He’ll never forget the correct way to say it now, I’m sure.

1. 57 states

This is easily my favorite gaffe. While talking about where he’d been on the campaign trail, then-Senator Obama said, “Over the last 15 months, we’ve traveled to every corner of the United States. I’ve now been in 57 states? I think one left to go. Alaska and Hawaii, I was not allowed to go to even though I really wanted to visit, but my staff would not justify it.”

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Matt Margolis is the author of Trumping Obama: How President Trump Saved Us From Barack Obama’s Legacy and the bestselling book The Worst President in History: The Legacy of Barack Obama. You can follow Matt on Twitter @MattMargolis