We all mess up sometime.
Believe me, I won’t begin to relate the dozens and dozens of times in my life when I’ve made a bad choice, used the wrong word, or said something that came out wrong. It’s part of the human character to fail to function at 100% for an entire lifetime.
But there are times when a blunder de-rails you and there’s no coming back from it. Many times, it’s a cultural thing that may be tied specifically to a moment in history. When vice-presidential candidate, Thomas Eagleton, was faced with the disclosure that he had suffered from a serious mental illness earlier in his career, it forced him to withdraw from the race. That was 1972, when mental health issues were still seen as embarrassing and a sign of failure. In today’s world he would have been praised for getting the right therapy and being able to carry on with his otherwise successful career.
When presidential candidate Ed Muskie faced a crowd at an election campaign rally and attempted to defend his wife, who had come under criticism by an opponent, he cried. It was seen by the public as a sign of weakness, and is widely seen as the cause of his defeat. Again, in today’s world that might be seen as a strength, but in 1972 it wasn’t interpreted that way.
(It was a bad year for candidates in 1972, wasn’t it?)
Neither of these examples is a situation where the candidate did something wrong. But their disclosure of weaknesses was seen as a blunder which should have been avoided if the candidate really wanted to be elected.
I find myself thinking of these great men who had remarkable careers in public service. They were crippled in their opportunities by a perceived weakness brought about by what the press considered blunders on the part of the candidate or his campaign team.
Just imagine what those campaign teams would do in today’s presidential race. It has been a race that has encountered more blunders by candidates than there are potholes in Providence streets! Mr. Trump, especially, has caused the people of the United States to live in a constant state of “Oh, no!”
Yesterday he answered Chris Matthews with a firm conviction that women who went through an abortion should be treated as criminals. It took him two re-makes over the next half hour to make the point that he mis-spoke. But it was too late. He revealed what was first in his mind, and all the remakes in the world weren’t going to erase what people already believed about him. He went on to say that men who impregnated women should not be considered criminals…as if the pregnancy occurred without the help of a male. It was an avalanche of blunders.
And they are not the first ones. Mr. Trump has been very clever in covering his faux pas history over the past year, making it sound as if there was a serious, acceptable explanation for stupid things he has said. Few thinking people see it that way.
The big secret in preventing blunders is to think it through before speaking or acting. I wish I had done so many times in my life. But a serious candidate for President of the United States needs to be even more attentive to his words and actions. I believe it is too late for Mr. Trump to cover all the blunders attributed to him. But I’m just a Democrat with what I believe to be a far better candidate.
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