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   (Usual stuff: Thanks to the syndicators deal this appears here a week later than its newspaper release)

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       Obviously Romney-Biden Disease is contagious. It’s also known as the Gaffe Syndrome, and in 2012, symptoms have spread throughout the political world.
       No less a silver tongue than Barack Obama just got a bad case, which meant he made a bad case. How else to describe his news conference? He was arguing that his economic program has added jobs, but then he went wild and crazy, blurting out that “The private sector is doing fine.” It’s hard to remember what he said next, because his foot was so jammed into his mouth.
       Romney, whose own boneheaded remarks are numerous and legendary, could barely contain his glee. He jumped all over President Obama, the now former smooth talker: “Is he that out of touch?” he gloated. As Vice President Joe Biden was caught whispering to the boss one time, this was a “big f------ deal.” So much so that POTUS wasted no time.
       As his very next White House photo op, he tried to untrip, stating it is “absolutely clear that the economy is not doing fine.” So there. That’s that.
       Except, of course, it isn’t. The relentless TV ads paid for by the Republicans and their corporate cabal already have begun. They juxtapose those six little words with reminders that the economy is still in the toilet.
       Maybe this is overwrought. Maybe by “private sector,” he meant those at the very top who hoard the nation’s wealth by hook and crook. Like Mitt Romney. To be fair and balanced here, we should note that Mitt, on the very same day, made his own stupid remark (will wonders never cease?) in his zeal to slam Mr. Obama. “He says we need more firemen, more policemen, more teachers. ... It’s time for us to cut back on government and help the American people.” Who needs all those teachers and first responders?


       Let’s face it though, Romney has made so many goofy comments, it’s become an old joke, just like Biden’s or Newt Gingrich’s, or Michele Bachmann’s or Rick “Oops Man” Perry’s.
       But Barack Obama, the guy who chooses his words so carefully? One can only assume he’s been rattled by everything falling around him. In one week, there were pathetic new employment numbers, the resounding Democratic defeat in the Wisconsin effort to recall GOP Gov. Scott Walker, as well as his alleged supporter Bill Clinton providing a gaffe a minute, declaring for instance that Romney had a “sterling” business record.
       And the squeeze will only get worse. We’re just a couple of weeks away from Judgment Day, or in this case, Justice Day, when the Supremes render their verdict on the constitutionality of the signature “Obamacare,” or the Affordable Health Care for America Act, if you’re persnickety.
       Meanwhile, those unemployment figures will continue to drip drip drip in their campaign water torture amid the danger that if the Europeans don’t get their acts together, they’ll drag things down here even more. It is a real hard sell for the White House to blame them or his predecessor or his present-day political enemies. It’s been nearly four years, and voters tend to hold the guy in charge accountable.
       The GOP mercenaries are well aware of that, which is why they are grinding out all the ads we see about the inspiring Obama promises of 2008, the “change you can believe in” stuff.
       There are two ways to look at all our ridicule about our political mush mouths: Some insist that slips of the tongue are just human, and that us bottom-feeders make too big a deal of them. But we argue that our leaders are first and foremost orators, whose every word is fraught with significance. So it is useful, we contend, to parse every utterance and lampoon the careless ones. Besides, it’s just fun.
       © 2012 Bob Franken
       Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.


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