Tim Pawlenty suggests Latina CNN anchor can't understand English, quickly backtracks [VIDEO]
Smiling on the outside, thinking on the inside: "Shit! That was a stupid thing to say."
Tim Pawlenty's recent appearance on Soledad O'Brien's CNN show provides a fascinating case study of a gaffe-conscious politician saying something dumb, then going into damage-control mode as quickly as possible.
T-Paw was verbally jousting with O'Brien about a new Mitt Romney that dishonestly alleges President Obama cut $716 billion from Medicare. As O'Brien points out, the Congressional Budget Office doesn't take the same view of the spending cut, characterizing it as a reduction in spending that doesn't affect benefits.
But nonetheless, the Romney campaign is standing behind the ad, prompting the following exchange between O'Brien and T-Paw (transcript via The Raw Story -- emphasis mine).
"But, sir, it's not a cut in Medicare, right?" O'Brien observed. "Let me just read from the CBO. It's a 'permanent reduction in the annual updates to Medicaid's payment rates.' It's a cut in the spending -- future spending. And it's cut that actually goes to insurers, right? I mean, it's not cuts to individuals."
"No matter how you say this, it's a cut to Medicare," Pawlenty insisted. "You can't even with a straight face, look your viewers in the eye and tell [them] that it's not a cut to Medicare."
"Well, I can't look viewers in the eye from where I am," O'Brien pointed out. "I'm saying the way the CBO puts it. ... That is a savings."
"Do you know what that is in English?" Pawlenty quipped.
"I speak English incredibly well, sir, as you know," O'Brien shot back. "So, tell me what it is in English."
"In plain speaking is this -- and I just mean in compared to the mumbo jumbo in the bureaucracy in the CBO -- what they're saying is that Medicare was going to go up by X and now it's going to go up by X minus $716 billion. There is no question that is a cut in where current law was before Obamacare was passed. There is no way you can present that in any other way."
"Of you can call it a savings is actually the other way to present that," O'Brien explained.
Here's the footage:
Ill-advised "plain English" remark aside, it's absurd to see a budget-balancing Republican take umbrage over spending cuts, isn't it?
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss City Pages' biggest stories.