Senator is filled with political consultants who invariably give the senator smart, insightful advice, such as “Don’t go messing around with that beautiful reporter who says she wants to write a book about you.” In fact, everyone in the novel is pretty darn smart, including the senator, who knows he is screwing up even as he finds that he can’t help himself — that reporter is just too damn beautiful.
Life, you may be surprised to discover, isn’t like that. One can easily imagine a politician making gaffes in the heat of the battle — you get tired, you’re talking all the time, you forget what your consultants told you…. But how do you explain Romney Communications Director Eric Fehrnstrom’s Etch A Sketch comment? The whole point of Eric Ferhnstrom’s existence is to keep the campaign on message, not to reinforce the criticism that all Romney’s opponents have been leveling at him. He gets paid not to get tired, not to forget the talking points (which he probably wrote), not to make gaffes.
By the way, Wikipedia, which knows everything, has an entry on Michael Kinsley’s definition of “gaffe,” which is “when a politician tells the truth – some obvious truth he isn’t supposed to say.” What Fehrnstrom said was, of course, completely true, and everyone knows that it’s true. (As a completely irrelevant aside, Kinsley lived upstairs from me freshman year at the World’s Greatest University.)
Here is the website etchasketchmittromney.com, which shows you how fast gaffes travel in the Internet universe.