Obama gaffes that make you guffaw

Obama has made a number of slip ups since he was elected in 2008. Photo credit www.dreamstime.com

By Cameron Mason

As the race to the White House hots up again, we take a look back at the trips and slips made by President Obama over his tenure in office.

Gifting American region DVD’s to Gordon Brown which didn’t work in the UK

One of the earlier notable gaffes occurred right here in good old England.  In a 2009 visit to Downing Street, then-Prime Minster Gordon Brown bestowed upon the new President several unique, exotic gifts. Among them was a First Edition of Sir Martin Gilbert’s seven-volume ‘Churchill’ biographic. Obama on the other hand gifted a set of 25 classic American films. The problem here? The DVDs were set to the wrong region. They were not configured to work with European players, rendering them all but useless. The list of films included  ‘American Classics’ such as; Citizen Kane, Casablanca, Star Wars, Psycho, The Grapes of Wrath and Lawrence of Arabia.

Talking through the English national anthem

Fast forward to May 2011 and Obama is back in Britain for a grandiose visit and a dinner with the Queen. Nobly rising to propose a toast to the monarch, the President led with the phrase ‘A toast, to her Majesty the Queen.’ An eager band, coupled with an uninformed foreigner who did not understand the implications of such a phrase soldiered on through his speech while ‘God Save The Queen’ played in the background. Obama finally caught the hint and quietened down. He later joked with a BBC reporter that he deliberately set himself up to have a musical ‘score’ with his speech.

While these were relatively small gaffes on foreign soil, it’s the gaffes on American soil that are getting him into trouble.

Ruled deaths of American citizens in Libya as ‘not optimal’ for America

With less than a fortnight to go before the big night, Obama could not have timed a seemingly innocuous comment on The Daily Show worse. Pressed by presenter Jon Stewart on the killing of four American citizens at the US Embassy in Libya, he stated that the deaths were simply ‘not optimal’ for America; hardly the sort of impassioned, patriotic response that the US public are known to respond to. With both sides gearing up for the final contestations, there are several avenues Romney could easily exploit in order to further discredit his opponent with this mistake in the media. As such, it seems that Obama may have left the side door open and could now pay the price.

Comparing his bowling ability to the ‘Special Olympics’

One monumental gaffe, which incited the attention of the national media, was Obama’s appearance on the Jay Leno show in March 2009. When quizzed on his bowling ability due to the presence of an alley at the White House, Obama said that his abilities are ‘like the Special Olympics or something’. This turned an otherwise successful talk show appearance into the things that PR people have nightmares about. This was a massive mistake by Obama on home soil and on live TV; still, this all occurred three long years ago, meaning that once again the usually smooth-talking President has steered clear of truly affecting the results of this year’s election with his somewhat rare gaffes.

Obama has been getting states confused during visits, and even getting the total number of states wrong. He said that he had visited 57 states but still had to visit three more. What he meant to say was that he had visited 47 states. It seems the occasional blunder of the tongue is not simply reserved for British officialdom or foreign monarchs. The key difference being of course, that any crack in the illusion of Presidential perfection is likely to be set upon by both the far-from-adoring public and any one of the many opponents to the current administration as a sign of unsuitability.

Listen to our briefing on Obama.