Almost-April-Fools'-Day "What Were They Thinking?" Awards
It's been a fun week of microphone gaffes, anger management issues and just plain dumb statements by a number of people who should know better (or have better handlers.) But that made it a great week for our regularly featured "What Were They Thinking?" communications awards.
The "There is no such thing as off-the-record" award goes to U.S. President Barack Obama, who not only made off-the-cuff remarks to Russian President Dmitri Medvedev during a Nuclear Security Summit about his ability to be more flexible post election about these issues, but was caught on a live microphone. Reporters at the Summit overheard Obama asking Medvedev on Monday to tell incoming President Vladimir Putin “on all these issues, but particularly missile defense, this can be solved but it’s important for him to give me space."
“This is my last election. After my election I have more flexibility," he added.
As Huffington Post and other outlets reported, the President quickly went into "what I actually meant to say" mode after Republican challengers jumped on the gaffe, citing it as an example of a hidden agenda of the standing President who is in an election year race:
Today, Obama stressed that his remarks reflect the political climate:
Arms control is extraordinarily complex, very technical, and the only way it gets done is if you can consult and build a strong understanding, both between countries and within countries. I don’t think it’s any surprise that you can’t start that a few months before presidential and congressional elections in the United States, and at a time when they just completed elections in Russia, and they’re in the process of a presidential transition where a new president’s going to be coming in a little less than two months.
One of his comments was right on the money: “I’m on record,” the president said of wanting to reduce nuclear stockpiles. “I want to see us over time gradually, systematically reduce reliance on nuclear weapons.” Yeah you were, Mr. President. Please remember that anything you say, whisper or even think aloud about is most definitely on the record. Please check the microphones and think before you add comments like this next time, Sir.
And one of the people piling on the President's communications error needs to watch his own "Ps and Qs." The "Temper, Temper!" award goes to Republican candidate Rick Santorum who responded angrily and somewhat profanely (certainly for him) to a heckler at a recent campaign stop. He gave "The Daily Show's" Jon Stewart some great material in the process.
Santorum let loose on the New York Times reporter for thinking he said Mitt Romney was, "The worst Republican in the country," instead of just the worst Republican to go up against Barack Obama on healthcare. Stewart got pretty excited by Santorum's fired up, "This is bullsh*t" retort, and suggested he keep it up until November.
And speaking of providing great fodder for comedians, professional and otherwise, Tim Tebow is owed many thanks this week for his over-use of varients on the phrase "I'm excited" this week. His press conference announcing he is joining the NY Jets Football team earned him the "Hire a Speechwriter, Please!" award this week.
Mike McCarthy of USA Today wrote:
The likable Tebow used 'excited,' 'excites' and 'exciting' so many times during his Monday presser that media lost count.
ESPN ran a humorous video on Sports Center ticking off the dozens of "excited" references. Parody videos popped up all over YouTube, splicing together the excited references.
Tim, here's a suggestion. How about you're thrilled to be a Jet. Like it? Good. We're only here to help.
We at BeyondtheHype are excited and thrilled that you're giving us fodder for posts like this, though, Tim, so please keep it up.
And last, and probably worst, was Red Sox pitcher John Lackey's comments responding to last September's team collapse and charges of too much chicken and beer in the clubhouse. We're giving him the "You're on the DL, for Pitching AND Talking" award for this memorable quote:
Guys having a beer after their start has been going on for the last 100 years. This is retarded.
He issued the following statement as his mea culpa:
I apologize for my thoughtless choice of words that appeared in print earlier today. I meant no harm, and I am sorry to all I offended.
Some general advice to all of this week's award winners: prepare, pause and think before saying anything anywhere that may be quoted.