The candidate: Jeb! Bush
The “gaffe”: Bush in Iowa, as reported by Talking Points Memo: “We should not have a multicultural society. When you create pockets of isolation, and in some cases, the assimilation process has been retarded, it’s wrong. It limits people’s aspirations.”
The defense: This isn’t a gaffe, no matter what Jeet Heer says. Some folks were upset that Bush had used “retarded,” a no-longer-favored term for developmental disabilities. But the context in which he used it was the most basic, literal sense of the word: “slowed.” (Zack Beauchamp explores this at more length and is right on.)
Why it matters (or doesn’t): It doesn’t matter a whit to Bush. But this is a cautionary tale for a press that is all too often eager to spot and make hay of candidates’ “gaffes.”
The moral: He who declares a gaffe first, gaffes worst.