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Barack Obama not so sure what Senate committee he's on

July 24, 2008 | 12:22 am

Maybe it's simple fatigue from the grueling pace of campaigning for American votes in the United States for 18 months and then campaigning for American votes all over the Middle East and Europe for nearly a week. He might need four years to rest up.

Or maybe it's simply Barack Obama's advancing age. After age 28, you know, the body and mind start to go. And in only 13 years Obama will be 60. And will have endured two teenage girls.

The freshman Illinois senator slipped up again Wednesday on his foreign field trip. In a news conference answering a local reporter's question about what he'd done to protect Israel's security, Obama cited a bill "we passed" just last week tightening sanctions against Iran in the Senate Banking Committee -- "my committee."

Of course, everyone but Obama knows that isn't Obama's committee. If Obama was the chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, he would have been getting preferential loan interest rates from Countrywide Financial like the real banking committee chairman, Sen. Chris Dodd, who has endorsed Obama, who isn't even on that committee. (See the video below.)

Some blogs like WakeUpAmerica and HotAir (video hat tip) interpreted Obama's misstatement as an intentional attempt to overstate his efforts. That would indeed be shocking in the middle of a political campaign.

This is the whole Obama news conference quote: “Just this past week, we passed out of

the U.S. Senate Banking Committee -- which is my committee -- a bill to call for divestment from Iran as a way of ratcheting up the pressure to ensure that they don’t obtain a nuclear weapon.” Frankly, he certainly doesn't sound very uncertain there about who did what.

This gaffe follows one in Oregon back in May when Obama said he'd visited 57 states with one more to go. That was the same day he suggested a recent typhoon might have killed 100 million people in Burma, which he later corrected to 100,000.

Previously, he talked about conferring with the president of Canada, which doesn't have one. And then that bitter small-town-people-clinging-to-their-guns-and-religion remark that was just mis-speaking but didn't help him in central Pennsylvania precincts soon after. 

And then in May the Illinois senator bounced onto the stage before an enthusiastic crowd at a Midwestern primary rally and exclaimed, "Thank you, Sioux City!" The crowd fell silent because all these years those people thought they'd been living in Sioux Falls, which is in South Dakota, not Iowa. Obama realized his mistake and corrected himself. And everyone was relieved.

Marc Ambinder, the political blogger at TheAtlantic.com, wondered online then if the very same serial gaffes would be so quickly and easily dismissed as quite obviously and simply fatigue-related had they been made by an older candidate, say, someone in their 70s in a different political party. Or would they ignite suspicions of senility? It's a good question.

Republican Sen. John McCain and Democratic ex-Sen. Sam Nunn keep talking about Czechoslovakia, which disappeared as a country 15 years ago. McCain has also apparently confused Iraq and Afghanistan and Somalia and Sudan, also the Packers and Steelers. And Hillary Clinton often told a now-famous tale, later also blamed on fatigue, about undergoing sniper fire during a visit to Bosnia, which had been filmed and showed no such thing. McCain is 71. Nunn is 69. Clinton is 60. Brett Favre is 38.

Fortunately, these folks have staff who can scurry around after the stumble and straighten things out. Obama's office late Wednesday offered that the senator had meant to say, "my legislation." Nice try.

The country can only hope that when that 3 a.m. call comes in the White House next year, it doesn't concern Czechoslovakia or Obama isn't too tired.

-- Andrew Malcolm

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