Kinsley gaffe

David Barnhart dbarnhart at HIGHLANDS.COM
Mon Aug 27 19:56:09 UTC 2012

Kinsley gaffe, {w} Also written Kinsley Gaffe or Kinsley-gaffe.  See the
quotations for a description.  Also called Michael Kinsley gaffe.  Standard
(used in informal contexts dealing especially with U.S. politics;

Mr. [Robert] Kagan [Senior Associate, Carnegie Foundation]: ... And the most
honest statement coming out of the administration recently was Secretary of
Defense Rumsfeld's statement that he's not sure we'll ever get bin Laden.
Now, of course, he had to retract that the next day. It was a classic
Michael Kinsley gaffe, but you certainly do get the sense that, in the
Pentagon, at least, they do not see signs of real progress.  "Carnegie
Endowment For International Peace Briefing," Federal News Service (Nexis),
Oct. 30, 2001, p not given

Not that Obama didn't insult the voters with his recent comments about the
obsessions of "bitter" working-class folk in Hicksville, U.S.A. He did.
Obama's remarks, delivered a few days ago and ostensibly in private, were
simply what Slate's Mickey Kaus calls a Category II Kinsley Gaffe: The
mistake a politician makes when he tells people what he really thinks,
whether it's true or not. (A Category I Kinsley Gaffe is an accidental
admission of the truth.)   A. Barton Hinkle, "Know What Your Problem Is?
(Obama Does)," an editorial in the Richmond Times Dispatch [Virginia]
(Nexis), April 15, 2008, p A-9

Ohio punter commits a Kinsley gaffe in admitting he didn't want to play a
bowl game in Idaho. Stefan Fatsis et al., "Hang Up and Listen: The Beef
O'Brady's Edition," an editorial in Slate Magazine (Nexis), Dec. 19, 2011, p
not given

The election-year definition, written by the columnist Michael Kinsley about
28 years ago, is that it's a remark in which a politician inadvertently
tells the truth - not necessarily about the world, but about what he or she

But the classic "Kinsley gaffe" is just one of the embarrassments for which
the media are constantly watching. For example, the purpose of campaign
debates these days isn't determining which candidate can make the strongest
arguments, but seeing who comes up with the most embarrassing non sequiturs,
factual errors or tangled syntax, and who gives the most evidence that he or
she freezes under pressure. "Media confuse gaffe-hunting with campaign
news," The Capital [Annapolis, MD] (Nexis), Aug. 27, 2012, p 10

The conservative media took the lead on this one. They found a classic
Kinsley gaffe, sure, but a new kind of Kinsley gaffe. David Weigel, "Say the
Magic Word," Slate Magazine (Nexis), July 19, 2012, p nor given

The American Dialect Society -

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