Great Orator Gaffes Again

One comment makes him akin to Akin.

“The odds of people dying in a terrorist attack obviously are still a lot lower than in a car accident, unfortunately,” President Obama told NBC’s Jay Leno last night.

Wait, “unfortunately”? Does the president really wish more Americans were killed in terrorist attacks? Indeed, orders of magnitude more, since nationwide traffic fatalitiestypically run between 30,000 and 50,000 a year?

That wasn’t Obama’s only error last night on “The Tonight Show.” He also got flummoxed by geography: “The Panama [Canal] is being widened so that these big supertankers can come in. Now, that will be finished in 2015. If we don’t deepen our ports all along the Gulf–places like Charleston, South Carolina, or Savannah, Georgia, or Jacksonville, Florida–if we don’t do that, those ships are going to go someplace else.”

There are major ports along the Gulf of Mexico, most notably the Port of South Louisiana and the Port of Houston. But Charleston, Savannah and Jacksonville are all on the Atlantic coast.

Perhaps most vexing was Obama’s reply to a Leno question about Russia’s grant of asylum to fugitive national-security contractor Edward Snowden:

I was disappointed because even though we don’t have an extradition treaty with them, traditionally we have tried to respect if there’s a law-breaker or an alleged law-breaker in their country, we evaluate it and we try to work with them. They didn’t do that with us. And in some ways it’s reflective of some underlying challenges that we’ve had with Russia lately. A lot of what’s been going on hasn’t been major breaks in the relationship, and they still help us on supplying our troops in Afghanistan; they’re still helping us on counterterrorism work; they were helpful after the Boston bombing in that investigation. And so there’s still a lot of business that we can do with them.

But there have been times where they slip back into Cold War thinking and a Cold War mentality.

Contrast that with what he said in his last presidential debate:

Governor Romney, I’m glad that you recognize that al Qaeda is a threat, because a few months ago when you were asked what’s the biggest geopolitical threat facing America, you said Russia, not al Qaeda; you said Russia, in the 1980s, they’re now calling to ask for their foreign policy back because, you know, the Cold War’s been over for 20 years.

But Governor, when it comes to our foreign policy, you seem to want to import the foreign policies of the 1980s, just like the social policies of the 1950s and the economic policies of the 1920s.

Today Obama canceled a summit meeting with Putin that had been scheduled for next month. Most media reports attribute the withdrawal to the Snowden dispute, but’s Joel Pollak speculates that the real source of Obama’s irritation with Putin is “the conflict over gay rights”–specifically, recently enacted Russian laws against the dissemination of “homosexual propaganda” and against the adoption of Russian children by foreign same-sex couples.

In response to a question from Leno (who framed the matter imprecisely, saying “suddenly, homosexuality is against the law”), Obama responded: “I have no patience for countries that try to treat gays or lesbians or transgender persons in ways that intimidate them or are harmful to them.”

Now if Obama denounces Putin for going back to the economic policies of the 1920s, that will be real progress.