The Empty Suit Meme

THE EMPTY SUIT MEME….For those of you who don’t keep up with the conservative blogosphere, one of the memes they’ve been trying to push for the past couple of weeks is this: Barack Obama may give a good prepared speech, but his dirty little secret is that he’s actually an empty suit who’s totally at sea without a teleprompter. Today, for example, Andy McCarthy, channeling John Hinderaker, offers up this snippet from an Obama press conference in Jerusalem:

Just this past week, we passed out of the U.S. Senate Banking Committee, which is my committee, a bill to call for divestment from Iran, as a way of ratcheting up the pressure to ensure that they don’t obtain a nuclear weapon.

But Obama isn’t on the Senate Banking Committee! Busted!

I dunno. Do they really think this tack is going to work? It’s true that Obama flubbed that sentence, but that’s all it was: a verbal flub. What he meant was that the Banking Committee had recently reported out a bill that included some provisions from a bill he cosponsored in 2007. So he should have said “my provisions,” or something like that, not “my committee.”

There’s a difference between verbal flubs, which every candidate makes plenty of, and gaffes that reveal some kind of serious misunderstanding of the world. When John McCain refers to Czechoslovakia, for example, that’s just a verbal flub. When he tries to convince us that the surge was responsible for the Sunni Awakening, that’s a serious gaffe. Somebody who really understands the past few years of history in Iraq just wouldn’t make a mistake like that.

Obama makes verbal flubs as often as anyone (57 states, “eight or ten years,” the banking committee thing), but he almost never makes genuine gaffes. The reason is simple: he’s a very sharp, very grounded politician who’s exactly the opposite of an empty suit. As M.J. Rosenberg says today, “He’s smart. He reads. He knows his sh*t.”

I’ll be curious to see if this meme manages to ooze its way upward into the mainstream press, but I doubt it. It’s just too dumb. I think the wingosphere would be better off sticking to the messiah schtick.

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