Example #1 of Media Bias. This amusing little stumble, reported by the San Francisco Chronicle, was enunciated by a prominent politician in the past several days. http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/2003/09/18/MN253560.DTL “My vision is to make the most diverse state on earth, and we have people from every planet on the earth in this state. We have the sons and daughters of every, of people from every planet, of every country on earth,” he said.
The politician in question enunciated the same mistake two times in a row. Had this been said by George Bush, it would have been all over the news as evidence of his alleged stupidity. Had it been uttered by Dan Quayle, I shudder to think of how often it would have been repeated. But, it was said by Gray Davis, Democrat. Reporters are unwilling to characterize Democrats as stupid.
This was said by a much ballyhooed late entrant into the field as a Democratic Presidential candidate, and a man who has been lauded for his intellect:
The Bush tax cuts weren’t fair. The people that need the money and deserve the money are the people who are paying less, not the people who are paying more. I thought this country was founded on a principle of progressive taxation. In other words, it’s not only that the more you make, the more you give, but proportionately more because when you don’t have very much money, you need to spend it on the necessities of life.
General Wesley Clark said this. The lack of coverage speaks volumes. Somehow I slept through the class session in American History where they explained just how the country was founded “on a principle of progressive taxation.” “No Taxation Without Progressivity,” was that the big slogan? In fact, the original Constitution, prohibited federal direct taxes except when apportioned among the states by population, and this was eventually interpreted as prohibiting all federal income taxes (progressive or not). It took the Sixteenth Amendment in 1913 to undo that. This was not a constraint on state governments, but I can think of no instance where any state passed any sort of “Progressive” income tax within the least the first two generations after the Founders. In fact, the preferred method of Federal taxation at the time, excise taxes on imports and exports, tended to hit middle and lower class purchasers the hardest (much like sales tax on food), unless they were levied solely on goods such purchasers could not afford anyway (in which case you still had deleterious effects on income and jobs, much like how the famous yacht tax killed the U.S. yacht-building industy).
Once again, had this been a Republican, he would have been excorciated. My point actually isn’t that either of these remarks proves the speakers are stupid. In both cases, I’m fairly sure they are not. And neither are Bush or Quayle. I went to law school with Dan Quayle’s son – bright kid. But in both above cases, I would bet you dollars to donuts that press coverage would have been much heavier, and much more negative, if the speakers were Republicans. The press simply needs to characterize Republicans as stupid in order to characterize conservative ideals and ideas as “simplistic,” and to stroke their own egos for disagreeing with such “simplistic” ideas.
When one is speaking in public and peppered with questions, it seems misspeaking would be a relatively common occurence. I have heard absurd things come out of Professors’ mouths. I have said things I know were untrue, and used the wrong word even when I knew the correct one. Some politicians ARE stupid. But a misstatement, or even a bunch of them, really doesn’t prove much. Or, to say it another way, don’t “misunderestimate” people based on a slip of the tongue.