Gaffe survival 101

Todd Akin's outrageous claim has the GOP calling for his head. But Biden gets away with egregious miscues all the time. An examination of how the VP does it

Edward Morrissey

It's been quite the election cycle for one of the most entertaining hobbies in politics: gaffe collecting. Whether you giggle at Mitt Romney's "Amercia" iPhone app or guffaw at Barack Obama's insistence that a Supreme Court decision overturning a law passed by a "strong majority" in Congress would be "an unprecedented, extraordinary step," gaffe-wrangling can bring delight to partisans and non-partisans alike. At times, it's the only entertainment value we can get from the marathon that is our electoral process.

Not all gaffes are created equal, of course. Some are the result of rushed responses to questions, inconsequential spoonerisms, and silly confusion over names and places. Others, however, are less humorous, such as the one recently committed by the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate in Missouri. Todd Akin opposes abortion in all instances, a distinctly minority but well-established position in conservative circles, and was asked to defend opposing an abortion in the case of a woman who conceived through rape. This should not be an unexpected question for a politician holding this position, but Akin managed to ramble himself into serious trouble in his race to defeat incumbent Democrat Claire McCaskill, whose seat had been considered the most endangered in the current Senate.

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Edward Morrissey

Edward Morrissey has been writing about politics since 2003 in his blog, Captain's Quarters, and now writes for His columns have appeared in the Washington Post, the New York Post, The New York Sun, the Washington Times, and other newspapers. Morrissey has a daily Internet talk show on politics and culture at Hot Air. Since 2004, Morrissey has had a weekend talk radio show in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area and often fills in as a guest on Salem Radio Network's nationally-syndicated shows. He lives in the Twin Cities area of Minnesota with his wife, son and daughter-in-law, and his two granddaughters. Morrissey's new book, GOING RED, will be published by Crown Forum on April 5, 2016.