Saying the Cambridge police acted "stupidly" wasn't Barack Obama's first or even worst gaffe; as president-elect he mused about Nancy Reagan séances, and he still hasn't lived down his awful joke on Jay Leno. But gaffes are okay, writes Michael Kinsley in the Washington Post—we want a president who speaks honestly, even if that means slip-ups every so often. Better that than an over-scripted bore. And that's what we'll get if the talking heads don't cut out the over-the-top outrage.
Whether it's phony offense à la "lipstick on a pig" or legitimate anger like the Special Olympics incident, the "rituals of umbrage" we force politicians to go through does serious harm to public discourse. Obama and others need to be able to speak with substance, Kinsley writes. "But that can't be done in a thin-skinned political culture obsessed with gaffes, and with a citizenry overly quick to take offense."