What with exhaustion, overexposure, and the temptation to comment on just about anything in the news, presidential candidates and presidents alike naturally often slip up. Given their hectic speaking schedules, they frequently mispronounce words (“nucular,” “corpse-man”), engage in the trivial (inflating tires and tuning up cars in lieu of drilling for more oil), and simply get things wrong (57 states). “Bushism” was coined about 2001 to refer to all the various ways that George W. Bush mangled the English language. There are, of course, just as many “Obamaisms,” though they are rarely commensurately lampooned by the media.
FDR unfairly and often demonized his political opponents. Truman could be coarsely blunt; Nixon far more so and in paranoid fashion. Jimmy Carter’s beatific façade seemed to hide all sorts of inner mean streaks. But what seems somewhat different from past presidential sermons, malapropisms, and flat-out wrong statements is the tendency of Barack Obama to lecture, talk down to, caricature, or even insult various people and groups — even as no other president in recent memory has reminded the nation so often of the need for civility, unity, and tolerance.