Political pundits like to label gratuitous political gaffes as "unforced errors" — mistakes that come out of right field without warning or reason.

These events are given extra analysis because they are unexpected and uncalled for — usually offhand or just plain unthinking statements or actions that enjoy a long shelf life in this social media and cable television driven world.


Many conservatives misinterpret the president's — and his surrogates' — consistent, predictable actions as examples of such unforced errors.

To wit:

"You didn't build that." was not a rhetorical mistake by the president, but rather an indictment of entrepreneurial America, those men and women who started a business only to become successful and worse — wealthy. This group consistently finds itself in the president's crosshairs; their preference for independence, profit and success drives veteran class warriors to distraction.

"Individuals will be empowered to make choices about their own lives and livelihoods… [they] would have the opportunity to pursue their dreams." The liberation theory displayed herein by White House Press Secretary Jay Carney followed the Congressional Budget Office's analysis that Obamacare would reduce the American workforce by 2.3 million full-time equivalent jobs by 2021. Mr. Carney further explained such job loss would free Americans to pursue their dreams, hobbies and leisure activities without the burden of losing their health care. No solace was offered to those left to pay the tab.

Radical Islam. There, I said it — as do most Americans and Muslim leaders engaged in a battle against a bloodthirsty enemy. Question: If the Saudis, Jordanians and Egyptians feel comfortable with the phrase, why not the president of the United States?

"Fore!" Nothing screams empathy from the leader of the free world more than 18 holes immediately following a press conference called to address the beheading of an American journalist. Now, I'm often the first to defend this president's desire to play golf. But where was the staffer in charge of "optics" on this one?

"Workplace violence." Technically, yes, the Fort Hood murders occurred at a working Army base. Still, most interpreted the incident as terror-related since the killer, Major Nidal Hasan, yelled "Allahu Akbar!" while gunning down 11 innocent people. But, then again, this administration can't bring itself to call the war a war.

"If you like your health care plan, you can keep it." What was awarded the "Lie of the Year" by PolitiFact may have been a whopper and obvious to anyone who bothered to read the bill, but it nevertheless served its purpose — just enough voter assurance to pass the man-made catastrophe known as "Obamacare."

James Taylor singing "You've Got a Friend" to the French as an apology for the U.S. president, vice president, and/or attorney general not bothering to show up for a gathering of world leaders in the aftermath of a terror attack in Paris (no, not a "random target," Mr. President) was a low point of administration "soft power."

"Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl served the United States with honor and distinction." National Security Advisor Susan Rice's infamous statement was dubious from the jump. But trading a deserter for five varsity terrorists did get the administration closer to a major policy goal: closing Gitmo.

The Crusades and The National Prayer Breakfast. That the "moral equivalency" option was used to contextualize the ugliness of the crusades (11th through 13th centuries) in the immediate aftermath of the live burning of a Jordanian fighter pilot did leave many observers confused. But not me. The crusades had to have been the first thing a reflexive apologist would think of in the aftermath of such a monstrous event — what, you didn't see that one coming?

The president's "war resolution." Here, at last, is the presidential recognition that the "JV" terror squad ISIS constitutes a real threat to the U.S, but, per expectation, with the usual self-limiting notifications to the enemy (no ground troops and a deadline for withdrawal).

"We cannot kill our way out of this war. … We can work with countries around the world to help improve their governance. We can help them build their economies so they can have job opportunities for these people." State Department Spokeswoman Marie Harf's response to ISIS beheading 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians did not refer to the victims as Christians, but rather "Egyptian citizens." And then came the suggestion these barbarians will stop the slaughter and bloodlust if only they have a job.

This is what true progressivism looks like. The next time you can do something about these constant affronts is November 2016.


Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., a former Maryland governor and member of Congress who is considering a run for president, is a partner at the law firm King & Spalding and the author of "Turn this Car Around" and "America: Hope for Change." His email is ehrlichcolumn@gmail.com.