Gaffes to the Rescue

They keep politics interesting, and sometimes they keep it honest

Haraz N. Ghanbari /AP Photo

Sen. Joseph Biden, D-Del., speaks during the Democratic National Committee Winter Meeting in Washington, Saturday, Feb. 3, 2007. Biden expressed regret for describing presidential rival Barack Obama as an articulate and clean African-American, trying to stem damage to his nascent 2008 campaign.

It used to be, there was truth and there was falsehood. Now there is spin and there are gaffes. Spin is often thought to be synonymous with falsehood or lying, but more accurately it is indifference to the truth. A politician engaged in spin is saying what he or she wishes were true, and sometimes, by coincidence, it is. Meanwhile, a gaffe, it has been said, is when a politician tells the truth--or more precisely, when he or she accidentally reveals something truthful about what is going on in his or her head. A gaffe is what happens when the spin...

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