August 11: Presidential Gaffe Day


On this date in 1984, President Ronald Reagan, known as the “great communicator,” made one of the rare gaffes of his political career. While warming up for a radio address, Reagan said:

My fellow Americans, I am pleased to tell you today that I’ve signed legislation that will outlaw Russia forever. We begin bombing in five minutes.

At the time Reagan was running for re-election against Democratic nominee Walter Mondale, and the President’s faux pas resulted in a temporary dip in his poll numbers. However  Reagan won the November election and went on to continue his get-tough policy towards Russia. Ironically one of Reagan defining moments came in later comments about Russia; in 1987 he visited the Berlin Wall where he famously said, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” (1).

Some might argue that the most glaring faux pas in presidential history was committed by President William Henry Harrison. Ignoring advisers who told him to wrap up against the cold, he proceeded to give the longest ever inaugural address in history (8,445 words) and died one month later of pneumonia.

Faux pas, by the way, is translated from the French as “false step.”

Today’s Challenge: Presidential Tongue Lashings

1. Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we.

2. Depends on what your definition of is is.

3. I love sports. Whenever I can, I always watch the Detroit Tigers on the radio.

4. When a great many people are unable to find work, unemployment results.

5. Comment made on September 7th: Today is Pearl Harbor Day – 47 years ago from this very day we were hit and hit hard at Pearl Harbor.

6. Rarely is the questioned asked: Is our children learning? (2)

Quotation of the Day: A gaffe is when a politician tells the truth. 
–Michael Kinsley

Answers: 1. George W. Bush 2. Bill Clinton 3. Gerald Ford 4. Calvin Coolidge 5. George H. W. Bush 6. George W. Bush

1 – This Day In History – Presidential – August 11. The History Channel

2 – List of U.S. presidential faux-pas, gaffes, and unfortunate incidents