James Watt

James Watt - Interior Secretary, infamously dubbed "Boy Blunder".

James Watt: “A Woman, Two Jews And A Cripple” – Anatomy Of Foot-In-Mouth – 1983

James Watt
James Watt – Interior Secretary, infamously dubbed “Boy Blunder“.

James Watt – Interior Secretary – Soundbite of Sept. 21, 1983 – Gordon Skene Sound Collection –

With the current state of political gaffes, non sequiturs and outright bonehead mistakes, the latest bon mot from Alabama comes in the midst of a hotly contested Senatorial race where issues of race, sexual harassment, pedophilia and mud have become the new norm in political campaigns.

But lest we think these Freudian Feats of Dunderhead are new and display a whole new low in our ritual of electing leaders, you just have to look into history, not that far back, to realize we’ve always had a predilection for the boneheaded when it came time to visit the ballot box.

Case in point – James Watt – though not an elected official, he was an appointment by the Reagan White House to head The Department of The Interior. His tenure lasted from 1981-1983, and for good reason; he suffered from Foot-In-Mouth disease, shooting from the Lip and Boy Blunder.

During an address, explaining the diversity of the members of the “U.S. Commission on Fair Market Value Policy for Federal Coal Leasing” he offered this somewhat maladoit description:

“We have every kind of mix you can have. I have a black, I have a woman, two Jews and a cripple.”

And even in the somewhat PC-free era of the early 1980s, there was backlash, a lot of it. He had, it seemed, managed to offend just about everyone on Capitol Hill, from both sides of the aisle and from a goodly chunk of the population of the U.S.

It wouldn’t be the first time Watt would “let off a stinky one in public” – those came months earlier when Watt drew the ire of Rock fans by banning the Beach Boys from playing the 4th of July party on the National Mall and before that, in January where he said: “If you want an example of the failures of socialism, don’t go to Russia, come to America and go to the Indian reservations.”

The “Two Jews and a Cripple” quote did get Watt eventually fired.

So as a reminder of that Stupid is Timeless, here is that news report, via ABC’s World News This Week.

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