Why Gordon Brown's 'bigotgate' gaffe was so bad
E.J. Dionne writes that it’s “astonishing” British Prime Minister Gordon Brown did not realize his mic was live when he described a voter he’d just met as “a bigoted woman,” throwing the Labor Party’s campaign into turmoil. Perhaps, but I have to feel for Brown. After all, it happens to America’s thoroughly mediocre politicians, sometimes, too. The difference? In America, our leaders’ most famous open-mic moments appear to involve profanity more often than actual substance -- which, sometimes, seems to do them more good than harm.
Brown’s blunder is on another plane of open-mic incompetence not only because he attacked a voter, as E.J. points out, and not only because it makes him appear to be the arrogant bully his opponents want him to appear to be. It’s also because Brown was too frank about this festering social issue. He attacked a voter for describing the discomfort many Britons no doubt feel -- whether they’d admit it or not -- about immigration. Though the British don’t have the same tradition of politicians speaking in code about race, identity or the Other, Brown’s opponents at tonight’s debate -- particularly David Cameron -- have the opportunity to exploit this episode using rhetorical winks and nods. That’s the big f-ing deal.
Also: more open-mic gaffes here, compiled by Reuters.
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