JONATHAN CHAIT MAY 27, 2011
I usually tune out tracker video/campaign gotcha stuff, but this candid moment from Tim Pawlenty is actually pretty staggering:
REPORTER: U.S. foreign policy towards Iran [unintelligible] how would you address contradictions in the U.S? On the one hand we are opposing Iranian policy, but on the other hand by U.S. reconfigurating that part of the world we made Iran dominating Iraq and now we are pinning it on dominating of Pakistan. How would you address this contradiction in our foreign policy?
PAWLENTY: You're talking about Iran?
PAWLENTY: Yeah, well I think the situation now in Iran is such that Secretary Gates is negotiating with whether the United States military will be there beyond the end of this year. And they're looking to the Iranians to see if they invite the Americans to stay, invite us to stay. And if they do invite us to stay at some very reduced level I think the United States will be wise, until we make sure that they get to the next level of stability, to accept that invitation. So if Iran makes that invitation by the end of the year, leaving a residual force, a greatly reduced force, but a residual force that would be there for a temporary amount of time. Until they could establish much better air security, until they can develop their intelligence —
REPORTER: You mean Iraq not Iran, because Iran —
PAWLENTY: I'm sorry, Iraq, yes, yes. You said — did you say Iran or Iraq?
He didn't just mishear the question. And he didn't simply misspeak. He clarified that he was being asked about Iran -- "You're talking about Iran?" -- and then proceeded to utter five sentences about Iraq, only saying "Iran" each time.
I once had a high school history teacher who accidentally said "Iran" when he meant "Iraq." He recovered, joking, "Iran, Iraq, potato, po-tah-to," which became a popular catchphrase. The difference is that he immediately recognized the mistake, and we weren't occupying one of the countries at the time. Also he wasn't running for president.