Political figures public displays of civic/historical ignorance?

I’m just curious what the most notable instances are of US politicians’ lack of civics or history knowledge. For instance, I remember a while back when there was a big uproar from some politicians that the national anthem might be sung in Spanish, someone went around with a camera and asked these politicians to sing or recite the words to the Star Spangled Banner, and many of them couldn’t. Some other examples that come to mind would be this test or the time Congresswoman Bachmann seemed to forget what the Constitution says about Congress.

G. Ford saying (1976) that Poland was not under Soviet domination was a pretty big one…

The fifty-seven states of the USA?

Palin claiming the press was violating her 1st Amendment rights.

Palin in general.

Al Haig: “I am in control here”.

Not a politician, but a political writer-- David Frum recently let loose this howler:

From Article III:

Oh well, whatever. He’s Canadian, he doesn’t need to know this :).

P.S. IMHO most every politician is ignorant of what the Constitution says, let alone actually means. Including, unfortunately, the Constitutional Law Professor-in-Chief. It’s bad enough that folks corrupted the Commerce Clause, but now some are trying to argue that the Preamble gives authority to Congress to basically do whatever the heck it wants. Good times.

The link goes to a Youtube video which has been removed due to terms of service violation.

What, exactly, did Ms. Bachman say to demonstrate she forgot what the Constitution says about Congress?

Bush 41 gave a speech on September 1st, noting that the day was the anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack.

I’ll try to dig up a cite…

Here’s the video.

Speaking of Palin, there’s also the claim that the vice-president is “in charge of the U.S. Senate.”

Not ignorance. Obama was referring to the 57 state-level primary elections that the Democrats hold.

Dana Perino saying that 9/11 didn’t happen on Bush’s watch?

Unfortunately, I don’t remember which politician made this faux pas, but a few years back there was a movement to put Ronald Reagan’s portrait on the $10 bill instead of Alexander Hamilton. One of the movement’s supporters pointed out that the ten-note was the only one currently being printed that didn’t have a former president on it.

When the clip was shown on “The Daily Show”, Jon Stewart responded “I’ll bet you one hundred dollars that you’re wrong.”

Actually, it was a problem with his numeracy.:dubious:

How about Mario Cuomo stating publicly, “There is no Mafia. That’s a lot of baloney!”

Could her question be vaguer??

What actions does she believe are violative of the Constitution? I suppose she could be subtly suggesting that the Federal Reserve is itself unconstitutional, which is a view that may stem from the idea that Congress may not delegate its power to “coin Money” which is in effect what the Federal Reserve is doing.

But if so, that’s a ship that has sailed. She may be right, in some theoretical sense, but it’s like a tax protester argument: OK, say you’re right, say the government doesn’t have the legal power to collect income tax. Obviously everyone else has decided that they don’t agree, so your view is useless from any sort of practical standpoint.

I’d like to mention Stephen Harper last year acting like the Opposition attempting to deny him confidence and forming a coalition government was some sort of coup, but that was plainly a studied attempt on his part to exploit the ignorance of others, not his own.

Mission Accomplished!:eek:

As I recall, earlier this year, Texas Gov. Rick Perry broke out the old chestnut that Texas has the unilateral right to split into four states.


Didn’t Reagan once claim he had been over in Germany photographing the camps during WWII? (he was actually at home making training films?)
But nothing can beat the ultimate: “I am not a crook.”

IIRC, it was on Sept. 7, 1988, while he spoke to the VFW while was campaigning for President. He corrected himself a short time later during the same speech (I think because he could hear uncomfortable whispering among the audience). He was three months off, to the day (or one syllable, I suppose: September vs. December).

Reagan’s 1985 visit to the Bitburg Cemetery, where some SS troops were buried, and his half-hearted attempts to explain why, have to rank right up here.

Obama’s statement during his recent (otherwise excellent, IMHO) Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech that the U.S. has never fought another democracy was simply incorrect, considering the War of 1812.