Kinsley Gaffe
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Kinsley Gaffe

A political gaffe is an error in speech made by a politician.[1]

Kinsley gaffe

A Kinsley gaffe occurs when a political gaffe reveals some truth that a politician did not intend to admit.[2][3] The term comes from journalist Michael Kinsley, who said, "A gaffe is when a politician tells the truth - some obvious truth he isn't supposed to say."[4][5]

The term gaffe may be used to describe an inadvertent statement by a politician that the politician believes is true while the politician has not fully analyzed the consequences of publicly stating it. Another definition is a statement made when the politician privately believes it to be true, realizes the dire consequences of saying it, and yet inadvertently utters, in public, the unutterable.[6] Another definition is a politician's statement of what is on his or her mind--this may or may not be inadvertent--thereby leading to a ritualized 'gaffe dance' between candidates. While exhibiting umbrage or shock, and playing on the mistake, the 'offended candidate' must not exhibit anything resembling glee.[7][8] A propensity to concentrate on so-called 'gaffes' in campaigns has been criticized as a journalistic device that can lead to distraction from real issues.[A] The Kinsley gaffe is said to be a species of the general 'political gaffe.'[9]

Kinsley himself posed the question: "Why should something a politician says by accident automatically be taken as a better sign of his or her real thinking than something he or she says on purpose?"[8]

Steven Pinker says that politicians use vague and indirect language to avoid making concrete statements, and that lazy journalists base political coverage around "gaffe spotting" rather than analysis of political platforms.[10]

The rise of Internet activism has created a new generation of negative campaigning where a political campaign can create attack ads within an hour of a politician making a gaffe.[11][12]

Notable gaffes by country


  • On August 12, 2013, at a Liberal Party function in Melbourne as part of the 2013 Federal Election campaign, Australian Opposition Leader Tony Abbott, criticising Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, said "No one, however smart, however well-educated, however experienced, is the suppository of all wisdom." The word he meant was "repository".[13]


  • The Central Election Commission showed Ilham Aliyev to be winning with 72.76% of the vote via the Commission's official smartphone app a day before voting had even started for the 2013 elections.[14]



  • On the debate debate ?n israeli tv with prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Isaac Herzog, the leader of the opposition said "i will keep Netanyau united", instead of i will keep Jerusalem united.[18]


  • During a 2009 speech in Mexico City, crown prince Willem-Alexander mistranslated the proverb "A sleeping shrimp gets carried away by the tide" roughly as "A sleeping shrimp gets screwed."[19]



  • "Everyone will give their best for a poorer country" - Prime Minister José Sócrates.[]


  • Victor Ponta's televised admission, after his party lost the 2008 election, that "their [the opponents'] system of electoral fraud worked better than ours"[22]

United Kingdom

United States

George W. Bush was famous for making gaffes

See also


  1. ^ ". . . the episode is a perfect gaffe precisely because its content was so meaningless. . ." Chait, Jonathan (June 14, 2012). "The Origins of the Gaffe, Politics' Idiot-Maker". New York Magazine. Retrieved 2012.


  1. ^ "Definition for gaffe - Oxford Dictionaries Online (World English)". Retrieved .
  2. ^ Webster, Merriam (June 3, 1972). "Merriam Webster definition of Gaffe". Merriam Webster Dictionary. Retrieved .
  3. ^ Goddard, Taegan. "Kinsley Gaffe". Taegan Goddard's Political Dictionary. Political Wire. Archived from the original on August 17, 2013. Retrieved 2012.
  4. ^ Kinsley, Michael (April 23, 1988), "Commentary: The gaffer speaks", The Times
  5. ^ Friedman, Nancy (August 22, 2011). "Word of the Week: Kinsley Gaffe". Fritinancy. Archived from the original on April 10, 2012.
  6. ^ McKim, Brian; Skene, Tracy (January 17, 2012). "Brill makes a "Kinsley gaffe"". Shecky Retrieved 2012. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  7. ^ Smajda, Jon (October 23, 2008). "Michael Kinsley on the ritual of the gaffe". Retrieved 2012.
  8. ^ a b Kinsley, Michael (March 6, 2012). "Kinsley: Limbaugh and the hypocrisy of the gaffe". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2012.
  9. ^ Amira, Dan (June 14, 2012). "A Taxonomy of Gaffes". New York Magazine. New York, NY USA. Retrieved 2012.
  10. ^ Political Rhetoric, Explained - Steven Pinker. 14 October 2008 – via YouTube.
  11. ^ "Matthew McGregor Kevin Rudd Attack Dog, Mitt Romney Gaffe Video". The Sydney Morning Herald.
  12. ^ "Rudd flies in Team Obama". The Sydney Morning Herald.
  13. ^ "Abbott's gaffe goes global". ninemsn.
  14. ^ "Oops: Azerbaijan released election results before voting had even started". The Washington Post.
  15. ^ "Making BC a Green Jobs Machine - The Tyee". The Tyee. 21 October 2010.
  16. ^ "ABCBookWorld". ABCBookWorld. Retrieved .
  17. ^ "MacKay denies referring to Stronach as a dog - Canada - CBC News". 2006-10-19. Retrieved .
  18. ^ [ "Netanyahu, Herzog hold brief, bitter, impromptu TV debate"] Check |url= value (help). The Times Of Israel. 14 March 2015.
  19. ^ "Spanish quote gets prince into trouble". 9 November 2009. Retrieved 2017.
  20. ^ Adam Taylor (11 January 2017). "San Escobar: How Poland's foreign minister helped create a fake country". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2017.
  21. ^ Associated Press (11 January 2017). "Polish FM Sparks Jokes With Mention of Nonexistent Country". The New York Times. Retrieved 2017.
  22. ^ Victor Ponta a recunoscut in fata intregului popor roman ca PSD a furat!. 7 December 2009 – via YouTube.
  23. ^ "5 July 1945". BBC News. Retrieved 2015.
  24. ^ "UK | Curse of the open mic". BBC News. 2001-01-29. Retrieved .
  25. ^ Duke of Edinburgh: Five Decades of Prince Philip's Gaffes. 10 October 2013 – via YouTube.
  26. ^ M.J. Stephey (2011-06-13). "Gerald Ford, 1976 - TIME's Top 10 Gaffes and Mistakes in Political Debates". TIME Magazine. Retrieved .
  27. ^ "Jimmy Carter's 'Lust in the Heart' Playboy Interview". The Washington Post. July 21, 1998. Retrieved 2012.
  28. ^ "Dan Quayle's 'Potatoe' Incident - 1992". 1998.
  29. ^ Liberman, Mark (1 February 2007). "Biden's Comma". Language Log. Retrieved 2014.
  30. ^ Lim, Christine; Stephey, M.J. (9 December 2007). "Top 10 Campaign Gaffes". Time Magazine. Retrieved 2014.
  31. ^ Robin, Corey (March 29, 2015). "Joe Biden's Israel stunner: American Jews should let Israel protect them". Salon. Retrieved 2015.
  32. ^ Prokop, Andrew (September 30, 2015). "A top House Republican was accidentally honest about the Benghazi investigation". Retrieved 2015.
  33. ^ "Head of House Benghazi panel says McCarthy 'screwed up'". Reuters. October 7, 2015. Retrieved 2015.
  34. ^ "Hillary Clinton's Big Debate Gaffe: Bizarrely Linking Her Wall Street Donors to 9/11 Reconstruction". Alternet.
  35. ^ White, Ben (November 19, 2015). "Will Hillary's 'clumsy' 9/11 remark come back to haunt her?". CNBC. Retrieved
  36. ^ Janell Ross (15 November 2015). "Hillary Clinton invoked 9/11 to defend her ties to Wall Street. What?". Washington Post.
  37. ^ Emily Jane Fox. "Hillary Clinton Still Can't Shake Her Wall Street-9/11 Debate Comment". Vanity Fair.
  38. ^ Andrew Freedman (15 November 2015). "Hillary Clinton's 9/11 moment was her biggest debate misstep". Mashable.
  39. ^ Graham, David A. "Gaffe Track: Hillary Clinton's 'Basket of Deplorables'". The Atlantic. Retrieved .
  40. ^ "Clinton Says Half Trump Supporters Are in 'Basket of Deplorables'". Time. Retrieved .
  41. ^ Benen, Steve (April 22, 2016). "Kasich makes a mistake by accidentally telling the truth". Rachel Maddow Show. MSNBC. Retrieved 2016.
  42. ^ Aleem, Zeeshan (April 23, 2016). "Health: Maine's Governor Just Said the Worst Possible Thing While Vetoing an Anti-Overdose Bill". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 2016.
  43. ^ Petersen, Lilli (April 21, 2016). "Maine Governor Blocks Addicts From Buying Lifesaving Drugs". New York Times. Retrieved 2016. In his veto letter, LePage, who is a Republican, said that naloxone "does not truly save lives; it merely extends them until the next overdose. ... Creating a situation where an addict has a heroin needle in one hand and a shot of naloxone in the other produces a sense of normalcy and security around heroin use that serves only to perpetuate the cycle of addiction," LePage wrote.
  44. ^ "The 37 Fatal Gaffes That Didn't Kill Donald Trump". POLITICO Magazine. Retrieved .
  45. ^ "Bloomberg once blamed end of 'redlining' for 2008 collapse". AP NEWS. 2020-02-13. Retrieved .
  46. ^ Porter, Tom. "Mike Bloomberg appeared to say he 'bought' 21 Democrats their seats in Congress in a cringeworthy debate gaffe". Business Insider. Retrieved .
  47. ^ Bloomberg, Emma Kinery (August 9, 2019). "Biden says 'poor kids' are just as smart as 'white kids'". Detroit News. Retrieved 2020.

Further reading

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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