December 29, 2003

You can't be too careful

"I seriously doubt that anybody who publicly uses the word 'contretemps' can ever be elected president," Nicholas Kristof said a few weeks ago in a Times column enumerating all the reasons why Howard Dean is unelectable. Actually, Dean did use the word to describe the Confederate flag episode, but only in a conversation with the Times's own editors. Probably it would have been more accurate to say that no one can be elected president who uses "contretemps" in public, even over lunch in a 100- Zip code.

One way or the other, it's a new category of political gaffe. Which begs the question, can someone who uses "gaffe" publicly be elected president? Posted by Geoff Nunberg at December 29, 2003 07:39 PM