Political candidates can say some really dumb things.
Candidate Obama said he had visited 57 states during the primaries -- and had just one more to visit.
Vice President Quayle forgot how to spell potato.
President Gerald Ford freed the captive nations of central Europe in a debate.
There are plenty of excuses from the spinmeisters. Fatigue. Distractions. Misunderstanding.
But most of us understand what has happened. We all do it. We mean to say one thing and say it another way -- almost always poorly.
I have double empathy with candidates. Having been one in 1988, I know how easy it is to get your tongue tangled in your feet. I would supply some examples. But some things are better mentioned and never discussed again.
That is why I did not react too strongly when I saw the headline. New Mexico Congressional Candidate Wants Landmines Along U.S.-Mexico Border."
My first reaction was to be certain I had not opened The Onion by mistake. But reality trumps satire.
Here's the story. During a radio interview, a congressional candidate in New Mexico suggested the United States could place land mines and barbed wire along the Mexico border to enhance security. With designated crossing points free from danger.
When asked to explain, he said he was not advocating the idea. He had heard the idea from a citizen while campaigning, and thought it was "an interesting concept."
OK. Every candidate adopts an idea now and then that has not been properly vetted through the ol' noggin. Such as, considering why the border with Mexico should look like Hungary in 1959.
But there is more. His concern was not that Mexicans are crossing the border illegally. His big concern was that terrorists could carry a nuclear weapon across the border.
Now, we are getting into Mad Hatter land. Of course, terrorists could do that. But why? As Babs has pointed out, cargo containers are much better sources for nefarious activity. I suspect Our Candidate knows as much about nuclear weapons as he does about land mines.
His big point was simple: "People are concerned about securing our borders. We're hopeful we don't have additional terrorist attacks. They expect our central government to actually do something and not avoid the problem."
And there is the rub. Securing the borders. Nuclear weapons is a non-starter. The secure border people need to do a far better job of making their case for expending tax money to throw up an iron curtain on the border with Mexico. And I am pointing a finger at myself.
But I get a little concerned when I hear candidates talking more like Joe Stalin than George Washington.