Perhaps one of the pettiest aspects of politics is the way political opponents pounce on gaffes. Most gaffes, while they make for good humor, are typically not consequential blunders that mean anything beyond an innocent verbal flub or a harmless typo. When President Trump made his infamous “covfefe” tweet four months into his presidency, many people couldn’t let it go, and the coverage a simple typo received was undeniably excessive.
On Sunday night, in a congratulatory tweet to the Kansas City Chiefs on winning the Super Bowl, Trump mistakenly referred to them as hailing from the state of Kansas. This literally prompted Senator Claire McCaskill to refer to him as a “stone cold idiot.”
It’s Missouri you stone cold idiot. pic.twitter.com/O1cAAOFsJ6
— Claire McCaskill (@clairecmc) February 3, 2020
Of course, when politicians seek to capitalize on innocuous gaffes such as this, it prompts me to have to point out that Trump didn’t invent the presidential gaffe. Most of the time we should be able to just laugh at these gaffes, recognize them as inconsequential, and move on, and not use them to accuse the president of being a “stone cold idiot.”
But hey, if Trump is a “stone cold idiot” then so is his predecessor, Barack Obama. Below, I give you ten gaffes I’ve picked out as examples of embarrassing flubs that maybe should give people like McCaskill pause before exploiting Trump gaffes for a political attack.
10. Obama’s embassy gaffe
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. 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.”
8. Obama gets 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? Imagine if Trump got his kids’ ages wrong.
7. Obama says Hawaii is part of “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. I’m sure we all know how the media would react if Trump made that mistake.
6. Obama gets the name of a town he visited wrong after a disaster
Gaffes made in reference to tragedies are particularly embarrassing and far worse than a tweet referencing the wrong state in reference tot he winners of the Super Bowl. 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, Oklahoma, after the devastation of last week.” Obama had just visited the town two days earlier.
5. Obama’s much needed geography lesson
In 2008, Barack Obama was trailing Hillary Clinton in the state of Kentucky by nearly 30 points, according to polls, and in trying to spin his anticipated defeat in the state, Obama proved he needed a geography lesson.
“Senator Clinton, I think, is much better known, coming from a nearby state of Arkansas. So it’s not surprising that she would have an advantage in some of those states in the middle.”
Barack Obama, as you know, hails from Illinois, a state that literally shares a border with the state of Kentucky. Guess which state doesn’t? That’s right, Arkansas. He didn’t even know his own home state bordered Kentucky? I’d say that’s far more embarrassing than Trump’s tweet.
4. Obama doesn’t know who our allies are
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 afterward. Talk about embarrassing.
3. Obama 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.
2. Obama doesn’t know how many states are in the United 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.”
1. Obama doesn’t even know he’s in Kansas City
Seeing as the left is pouncing on Trump for mistakenly typing Kansas instead of Missouri, the number one gaffe on this goes to Obama’s not knowing he was literally in Kansas City. During a satellite chat during the Democratic National Convention in 2008, Obama said, “I’m here with the Girardo family here in St. Louis.”
Perhaps no one would have been the wiser, except a graphic appeared immediately after, showing that Obama was actually not in St. Louis, but Kansas City. This prompted his then 7-year-old daughter Sasha to ask “Daddy, what city are you in?” at which time Obama corrected his error.
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