Presidents remain in the limelight most of the time, and their slightest slips of the tongue are noticed immediately. They are magnified many times and portrayed like blunders or exploited enormously by different groups according to their interests. In fact, people honor the high office and do not always take the presidential gaffes seriously, but they do enjoy the fact that their presidents too are susceptible to err just like them, and this common factor practically brings them both, the people and presidents, even closer. There is probably no one there, who having once heard of the broccoli gaffe of President George H. W. Bush did not enjoy it. Many gaffes are quite delicate and subtle; some are innocent discourses like the kids who enjoy using every new word they learn quite mercilessly without any regard for the repercussions their usage may have on the listeners. Presidents too are wont to putting many others in quite an embarrassing position by their gaffes without being the least impacted by them. Presidents are frequently surrounded and covered by their protocols, and it is whenever there is a slight breach of the protocol that they find it opportune to present a new gaffe.
1. George H. W. Bush
George H. W. Bush was the 41st President of the United States and father of George W. Bush, the 43rd President of the United States. Both of them are known for quite a few interesting gaffes, popularly known as ‘Bushisms.’ During a news conference on
March 22, 1990, he declared ‘I do not like broccoli, and I haven’t liked it since I was a little kid and my mother made me eat it. And I’m President of the United States, and I’m not going to eat any more broccoli.’ Addressing the students of East Los Angeles Garfield High School on May 5, 1988, he said, ‘You don’t have to go to college to be a success…We need the people who run the offices, the people who do the hard, physical work of our society.’
2. George W. Bush
George W. Bush was not the least bit behind his father in respect to gaffes and said, ‘Our enemies are innovative and resourceful and so are we,” the U.S. president told a high-level meeting of Pentagon officials. ‘They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people and neither do we.” Interestingly, he expressed his thoughts during a signing ceremony of a $417 billion defense bill. Scott McClellan, the White House spokesman said that Mr. Bush’s mistakes should reassure rather than alarm. On November 6, 2000, at Bentonville, Arkansas, he invented another word saying, ‘They ‘misunderestimated’ me.’
3. Ronald Reagan
Ronald Wilson Reagan was the 40th President of the United States. His gaffes were so dexterously interwoven in his speeches that in spite of their being present, they were just inseparable from good reasoning. He said, ‘They say hard work never hurts anybody, but, I figure, why take the chance?’ At another time he said, ‘I have left orders to be awakened at any time in case of a national emergency, even if I’m in a cabinet meeting.’ His most famous gaffe emerged while he was testing his voice level before a broadcast with the microphone switch on. For the test purpose he said, ‘My fellow Americans, I am pleased to tell you I just signed legislation which outlaws Russia forever. The bombing begins in five minutes.’
4. Richard Nixon
Richard Nixon was the 37th President of United States. He interpreted the Constitution of the U.S. in his own way while speaking to David Frost during an interview in 1977, ‘When the President does it, that means it’s not illegal.’ He was the opponent of
Sen. John F. Kennedy in the first, televised debate in 1960. The debate was seen live by 77 million people. While Kennedy was well-composed in every way, Nixon did not appear so. He was perspiring, wearing loose and poorly fitting clothing because he had lost weight during the 12-day hospitalization for a knee operation. Compared with the lesser known John F. Kennedy, Nixon had been a twice-sitting Vice President and was far more known but appeared on TV as far less composed and, according some analysts, lost the presidency on this account.
5. George Washington
George Washington was the first President of the United States and was one of its founding fathers. On October 30, 1791 he wrote in a letter, ‘It is better to offer no excuse than a bad one.’ The Father of the Nation never lied, but he forgot to return a book taken from the library. An inspection of the library ledger revealed that Volume #12 of the 14-volume collection of Common Debates was last checked out by the library patron George Washington and had not been returned. The news was considered a gaffe of the first president.
6. Gerald Ford
Gerald Ford was the 38th President of the United States. During the 1976 Presidential election he said, ‘There is no Soviet domination of Eastern Europe.’ The moderator, Max Frankel, tried to clarify, but Ford insisted on what he already said and elaborated further ‘I don’t believe, uh, Mr. Frankel, that, uh, the Yugoslavians consider themselves dominated by the Soviet Union. I don’t believe that the Romanians consider themselves dominated’¦ The United States does not concede that those countries are under the domination of the Soviet Union. As a matter of fact, I visited Poland, Yugoslavia, and Romania to make certain that the people of those countries understood that the President of the United States and the people of the United States are dedicated to their independence, their autonomy, and their freedom.’
7. Nicolas Sarkozy
Sarkozy de Nagy-Bocsa, better known as Nicolas Sarkozy, was the 23rd President of the French Republic from May 16, 2007 to May 15, 2012. As the reliance on nuclear energy was a hot issue during the elections, Mr. Sarkozy stated in Normandy during an election campaign that he had visited the Fukushima nuclear power plant after the tsunami. The socialist presidential candidate, Mr. Hollande, negated the statement after checking and said, ‘He never went there.’ Sarkozy conceded to it and changing his stance said that he had sent his Ecology Minister Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet to visit the Fukushima nuclear power plant.
8. Related to Harry S. Truman
Gaffes are so much associated with the U.S. Presidents that in case they fail to demonstrate one, the media takes care of it and ensures there is at least some gaffe related to the president, if not by the president. After the victory of Harry S. Truman in the elections, the Chicago Tribune made an embarrassing headline ‘Dewey Defeats Truman.’ The headline was further projected when Truman was photographed holding the newspaper. In fact, the people behind the newspaper were overambitious to break the news about the election results and, relying upon their statistical data analysis, pronounced the victory of Truman.
9. Media Gaffe about Putin
Putin’s burial became a hot topic for bloggers due to a slip of the tongue by newsreader Maria Bukhtuyeva, a newsreader from Krasnoyarsk. She said on air at the TVK television channel ‘Shall we bury Vladimir Putin?’ In fact, Prokhorov had proposed a referendum on shifting Vladimir Lenin’s body preserved after his death in 1924 and since then kept at the Museum Mausoleum. The question was: ‘Should Vladimir Lenin’s body be removed from there and buried?’ The newsreader substituted ‘Putin’ for ‘Lenin’ during the broadcast, and it was quite a sensational remark for a large number of audiences.
10. Jimmy Carter
Jimmy Carter was the 39th President of the United States. He was the only Nobel Laureate U.S. President. He was also the only U.S. President interviewed by Playboy for the November, 1976, issue. He said, ‘I’ve looked on a lot of women with lust. I’ve committed adultery in my heart many times.’ He was mocked for consulting a child on policy matters as he revealed in the 1980 election debate between him and Reagan. He said, ‘I had a discussion with my daughter Amy the other day before I came here to ask her what the most important issue was. She said she thought the control of nuclear weaponry.’
It is the intentions that reflect truly upon the acts of someone, but laws, rules, regulations, and even social norms are most concerned with the apparent acts. Intentions are not important to undo an apparent misdeed. The gaffes which are mostly unintentional acts or words that cause embarrassment to the initiator are not easily forgotten. Gaffes of presidents are of special interest for the media personnel who wait days and weeks for them to occur so that they may break the news within a split second and may overplay them.