A “gaffe” is an unintentional comment that causes a politician embarrassment.
The term is often used to describe a slip of the tongue or a misstatement that is embarrassing or damaging to the person who made it.
In politics, gaffes can be particularly damaging because they can undermine a politician’s credibility, damage their public image, or even cost them votes.
Gaffes can range from minor slips of the tongue to major blunders.
For example, a politician might make a gaffe by accidentally saying something offensive or insensitive, or by accidentally revealing sensitive information. In some cases, a gaffe can be the result of a misunderstanding or lack of knowledge about a particular topic.
Gaffes can also be the result of poor preparation or lack of attention to detail.
For example, a politician might make a gaffe by forgetting an important detail in a speech or by failing to research a topic before making a public statement.
In some cases, a gaffe can derail a political campaign, damage a politician’s reputation, or even cost them their job.
The term often refers to a politician inadvertently saying something publicly that they privately believe is true, but would ordinarily not say because it is politically damaging.
As Michael Kinsley wrote:
It used to be, there was truth and there was falsehood. Now there is spin and there are gaffes.
Spin is often thought to be synonymous with falsehood or lying, but more accurately it is indifference to the truth. A politician engaged in spin is saying what he or she wishes were true, and sometimes, by coincidence, it is.
Meanwhile, a gaffe, it has been said, is when a politician tells the truth — or more precisely, when he or she accidentally reveals something truthful about what is going on in his or her head. A gaffe is what happens when the spin breaks down.
Examples of “gaffe” in a sentence
- The politician’s gaffe during the debate was widely criticized and may have cost him the election.
- The candidate’s campaign was derailed by a series of embarrassing gaffes.
- The politician was forced to apologize for his gaffe and took steps to prevent similar mistakes in the future.