Santorum aide’s ‘Islamic’ goof


So many attacks, so little time! (AL GOLDS/ASSOCIATED PRESS)

So it’s easy to sympathize with Rick Santorum aide Alice Stewart, who accidentally complained to “Andrea Mitchell Reports” about President Obama’s “radical Islamic policies” instead of his “radical environmental policies.” She later called in to apologize for misspeaking. But why bother?

At a certain point, all these allegations with varying degrees of spuriousness begin to blur together.

Nothing like getting your talking points mixed up. Next she’ll be complaining about Ron Paul’s radical socialist policies. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean ‘socialist,’” she’ll apologize. “I meant, ‘stupid.’ I misspoke.”

“I didn’t mean to call Newt Gingrich an appalling lump who makes Hitler look pleasant by comparison,” she’ll note, after a particularly grueling day. “All day long, I was calling him, ‘a nice guy, if corpulent.’ I really don’t know how this happened. You have the lights turned on you, and suddenly — you make these stupid slips of the tongue. Could happen to anyone.”

“President Obama needs to stop being so homosexual,” she says. “I’m sorry. Liberal. I meant liberal. It’s been a long day.”

And this must be troublesome in private life. “I’d like to buy some light bulbs,” she says. “The Islamically friendly kind.”

I take this example back. Clearly, she has never said this. Nothing says, “I am unlikely to request an environmentally friendly anything,” like, “I am Rand Paul” or “I am a Santorum aide critiquing President Obama’s environmental — or is it Islamic? — policies.”

It’s often been said that there is too much name-calling in politics. But at least keep the names straight. There are people who have to fact-check these things, and it is much easier for them to come out with whimsical statements like, “This merits Six Pinocchios” or “That’s an Eight Bad-Ham Doozy,” if you don’t suddenly get nervous and accuse the president of being a Muslim. We went over this in the summer of 2009, I thought.

So many attacks! So little time!

Worse yet, Andrea Mitchell said she didn’t even notice the slip-up.

Just as long as your aide doesn’t accidentally say something nice about the other candidates. That would be the real kiss of death.

Alexandra Petri writes the ComPost blog, offering a lighter take on the news and opinions of the day. She is the author of "A Field Guide to Awkward Silences".

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