Foot in Mouth award
This year’s Foot in Mouth award winner is Mitt Romney, who at one point explained that the biggest threat to the United States was Russia, and who was far from complimentary when asked if he thought London was ready for the 2012 Games.
"There are a few things that were disconcerting. The stories about the private security firm not having enough people, the supposed strike of the immigration and customs officials – that obviously is not something which is encouraging."
Mitt: perhaps a quick ‘yes’ might’ve worked better for you there?
“47% of Americans,” he went on to suggest, “will vote for Obama no matter what because they are dependent on government…they are victims who believe that government has the responsibility to care for them.”
Romney went on to make the moving proclamation that:
"I believe in an America where millions of Americans believe in an America that's the America millions of Americans believe in. That's the America I love."
Romney was, as many couldn’t help point out, a gaffe machine who could scarcely get through 24 hours without volunteering another verbal own goal. He was troubled, at one point, about flying, and by what he saw as a really unnecessary and easily corrected aircraft design issue.
"When you have a fire in an aircraft, there's no place to go, exactly, there's no -- and you can't find any oxygen from outside the aircraft to get in the aircraft, because the windows don't open. I don't know why they don't do that. It's a real problem."
A very real problem was Romney’s increasingly implausible candidacy as the next President – not, of course, a problem that the last Republican President allowed to bother him much. Romney even seemed unconvinced himself at one point.
"Join me in welcoming the next president of the United States, Paul Ryan," he encouraged.
But what of Presidential credentials? Did Romney have those? He challenged Obama directly.
"We have a president, who I think is a nice guy, but he spent too much time at Harvard, perhaps."
Well, Romney holds two degrees from Harvard - but such a hapless contradiction was hardly surprising. But forget all this. The gaffes and the glaring mistakes are alarming, maybe, but what of his political conviction? Surely this is what counts. Well.
"We have a potentially volatile situation but we sort of live with it, and we kick the ball down the field and hope that ultimately, somehow, something will happen and resolve it."
OK then. Has he got the common touch?
"I like being able to fire people who provide services to me."
Or what of his appreciation of the American landscape?
"I love this state. The trees are the right height."
And on and on and on.
"I went to a number of women's groups and said 'Can you help us find folks?' and they brought us whole binders full of women."
This could all be charming, the lovable eccentricities of a local oddball. But here was the man vying for arguably the biggest job in the world. This level of inane waffle was one of the things that blighted George W Bush’s time in office, but with Bush you got the sense he couldn’t’ve cared less how people took him. Romney seems to mean it. Does he?
"I'm not familiar precisely with what I said, but I'll stand by what I said, whatever it was."