The AP reports:
Barack Obama, caught up in the fervor of a campaign speech Tuesday, drastically overstated the Kansas tornadoes death toll, saying 10,000 had died. The death toll was 12.
“In case you missed it, this week, there was a tragedy in Kansas. Ten thousand people died — an entire town destroyed,” the Democratic presidential candidate said in a speech to 500 people packed into a sweltering Richmond art studio for a fundraiser....
As he concluded his remarks a few minutes later, he appeared to realize his gaffe.
“There are going to be times when I get tired,” he said. “There are going to be times when I get weary. There are going to be times when I make mistakes.”
Obama spokesman Bill Burton said later that the senator meant to say “at least 10,” instead of 10,000....
This doesn't seem to me like a simple slip of the tongue, as when you mean to say one thing but accidentally say another (e.g., "at most 10" instead of "at least 10"). The "thousand" must have been deliberate at the time, though surely not thought through — a ten-thousand-death natural disaster would, to my knowledge, be unprecedented in recent American history; if one thought about it even for a moment, one would realize that the number must be wrong.
But the tiredness explanation nonetheless strikes me as perfectly reasonable. Campaigning for President is, by all accounts, an immensely tiring task — basically nonstop work morning to night, traveling, constantly talking, making political decisions, worrying. I suspect nearly all of us, laboring under that kind of schedule, would make errors of one sort or another in what we say. Just think about the slip-ups you sometimes make after any long spell of intense work. Seems to me we ought to cut the man (and all his fellow candidates) some slack on this score.
UPDATE: OK, this is just zany. I post (1) defending Obama against charges that he made some telling gaffe, and (2) trying to use this one incident to urge more broadly that everyone cut people more slack on slip-ups they make in the middle of an extremely hectic schedule. I do so after others, both in the mainstream media and in blogs, note the story, and after some use the story as an argument against Obama. (Just check out the links that I give and you'll see.)
But I guess you can't please some people: "Why would you possibly post on this?" "Complete non-event .... Will we see more of this sort of thing from Prof. Volokh as the election approaches?" "the media vultures who want to make stories out trivial events I agree. Too bad this website joins the flock." Apparently even noting that there is this criticism of Obama out there and defending him against the criticism is somehow beyond the pale.
It's going to be a long, unpleasant election season.
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