Opinion: Boy, why all the speaking gaffes by Geoff Davis and others now?


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Have you ever been at, say, a football game and you notice the TV camera turn toward the crowd in Section 14?

And suddenly what seemed like a fairly normal group of people -- except for the two fat guys with no shirts -- turns completely bonkers: waving, displaying ESPN signs, pointing to their sweatshirts, holding up one finger (no, the forefinger) and yelling things that no one will hear because there’s no microphone within 50 yards?


That kind of disease must be spreading these days to those people who are handed a microphone. There’s something about holding one of those electronic voice-amplifiers in your hand and looking out at a political crowd that turns on the stupid lobe in many a frontal cortex.

We’ve had so many examples this election season of folks whose egos seem to get amplified instead of their IQs. And they come out with amazing words that the immediate crowd might cheer. But pretty soon, thanks to the Internet and blogs like this, their words get read or heard by others.

And they find themselves apologizing in very embarrassing circumstances.

The latest is Geoff Davis, a Kentucky representative few beyond Paducah ever heard of until today, when his Saturday night....

remarks to a Republican crowd seeped out. Davis, who has two GOP challengers in his May 20 primary, has earned his 15 minutes of infamy by saying of the leading Democratic presidential candidate, ‘That boy’s finger does not need to be on the button.’

Now, ‘boys’ is a funny word, kind of like ‘girls.’ Girls can call each other girls regardless of age. But when girls get together, like Sen. Hillary Clinton and Ellen DeGeneres did the other day, and start talking about ‘the boys,’ it takes on a whole new meaning.

Likewise, say, Barack Obama could start talking about Clinton as the girl in the race, but then he’d be apologizing pretty soon.

Same for boys. If you’re gonna play poker with them tonight, it’s a fine word. Davis could have said he and the boys were talking over at the VFW about this young fellow Obama and they weren’t so sure about him.

But for a 49-year-old man to refer to a 46-year-old African-American candidate as ‘boy’ is instantly racially-charged, unacceptable and reminiscent of a time in America that fortunately is slipping from the memory of most. Boy, aren’t you glad you’re not some immigrant trying to learn all the irregular meanings for the little word ‘boy’?

So, of course, Davis was out today publicly apologizing, as he must. ‘My poor choice of words is regrettable, and was in no way meant to impugn you or your integrity,’ Davis wrote in a letter delivered to Obama’s Washington office this afternoon. ‘I offer my sincere apology to you and ask for your forgiveness.’

Yeah, fine. Last summer Obama apologized for staffers who sent out a background sheet on Clinton’s ties with Indian-Americans. Clinton’s New Hampshire co-chair apologized for bringing up past drug use which Obama has written about in a book. Same for the BET guy later. And ex-Rep. Geraldine Ferraro had something unapologetic to say about race.

Baptist Mike Huckabee slyly asked a leading question about Mitt Romney’s Mormonism and said he meant nothing by it. Bill Cunningham repeatedly used Barack Obama’s legal middle name, presumably implying he’s a Muslim. And John McCain apologized for it.

A questioner of Clinton in Missouri referred to President Bush as ‘a bastard’; the crowd cheered and Clinton nodded and smiled.

A liberal talk radio host named Ed Schwartz called McCain a warmonger and refused to apologize. So an Obama spokeswoman dutifully came out and said, of course, he’s not. And another liberal talk-show host, Randi Rhodes, called Clinton and Ferraro ______ ______s. And she got suspended indefinitely.

When you skim over the 1850s reports of the Lincoln-Douglas debates --there were actually seven of them, each three-hours long -- you don’t see any ________ or even __________. When you listen to early recordings of William McKinley, Howard Taft, William Jennings Bryan and Theodore Roosevelt speeches, what’s striking is how not-booming Teddy’s voice was. He sounds much smaller than his historic image.

Also, it’s amazing how few bleeps -- like zero -- you hear on those old recordings.

So we can discern from all this that this election’s growing problem of misspeaking must somehow be tied in with these more modern ________ microphones.

-- Andrew Malcolm

Photo Credit: AP