History: 9 Political Freudian Slips

Mozelle Martin

Simple Psychology describes it this way: "A Freudian slip (parapraxis) is a verbal or memory mistake (a "slip of the tongue") that is considered to be linked to the unconscious mind. These slips apparently reveal private thoughts and feelings that the individual hold."

Presidents aren't the only politicians that have a lot to say in a quick amount of time. Because of the rush to get their message out, they often trip on their tongue and say funny, embarrassing, and oftentimes memorable quotes.

Here are a few of my favorites:

  1. Ronald Reagan: While president, he frequently veered from his skillfully-prepared speeches, and quite often, doing so resulted in disaster. In 1988, when trying to quote John Adams, instead of saying "Facts are stubborn things," he said, "Facts are stupid things." Not known as one to care about the environment, in 1966, Regan said, "A tree is a tree. How many more do you have to look at?" However, his most famous blooper occurred in 1984. During a microphone test right before appearing on the radio, he stated, "My fellow Americans, I am pleased to tell you that I just signed legislation which outlaws Russia forever. The bombing begins in 5 minutes."
  2. Al Gore: if you are unaware, he served as vice president during the Clinton Administration from 1993 - 2001. During the 1992 campaign, he addressed the voters who were skeptical of change. First, he asked them to remember that every Communist government in Eastern Europe had fallen within 100 days. Then he said, "Now it's our turn here in the USA." Starting in 1999, Gore has often been incorrectly quoted as saying that he invented the internet. What he really said was, "During my service in congress, I took the initiative in creating the Internet."
  3. Richard Nixon: while serving as the 37th president from 1969 - 1974, he is the only U.S. president to resign. Famous for telling the media, "I am not a crook," Nixon once told a political associate the following: "You don't know how to lie. If you can't lie, you'll never go anywhere." Nixon obviously couldn't cover up Watergate or Freudian slips.
  4. Richard J. Daley: during the troubled and turbulent 1960s, he served as the Mayor of Chicago. The DNC was held in 1968 when the USA was divided by the Vietnam War for one. Also, due to the assassinations of both MLK Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy, Chicago was a battleground for protests. Americans around the country witnessed antiwar protests on TV and, when confrontations between protesters and police became violent, Daley's comment was, "The police are not here to create disorder, they're here to preserve disorder."
  5. Gib Lewis: serving as Texas House Speaker, Gib was a true slow-talkin' Texas. One of his colleagues was the then-future president George W. Bush. While closing a congressional session, Lewis shared his real feelings about his peers. He said, "I want to thank each and every one of you for having extinguished yourselves this session." He tried to explain his Freudian slip away by saying, "There's a lot of uncertainty that's not clear in my mind." Perhaps he was describing his jumbled reign as Texas Speak because he also said, "This is unparalyzed in the state's history."
  6. Dan Quayle: Before George W. Bush became president, Quayle was the reigning king of malaprops. Serving one term as vice president from 1989 to 1993, he tripped over his tongue so much that he was often roasted on late-night TV. His most famous slip occurred in 1992 while visiting a New Jersey spelling bee. When Quayle thought student William Figueroa misspelled "potato" as p-o-t-a-t-o, he corrected William incorrectly by saying, "No, it's spelled p-o-t-a-t-o-e." Quayle didn't help himself win reelection because, at a campaign stop in California, he said, "This president is going to lead us out of this recovery."
  7. Spiro Agnew: serving as vice president from 1969 to 1973, Agnew resigned due to evidence of tax evasion. I guess his tongue-tripping may have revealed the truth when he stated, "I apologize for lying to you. I promise I won't deceive you except in matters of this sort." Agnew didn't help win over the lower economic class in 1968 either when he stated, "To some extent if you've seen one city slum, you've seen them all."
  8. George W. Bush: while reflecting on his youth in Midland, Texas, he said in a 1994 interview, "It was just inebriating what Midland was all about then." Seems innocent at first but, back then, "Dubya" was known to be a heavy drinker. So, the word "inebriating" was truly a priceless Freudian slip! During his time in the White House, this Bush had so many slips and trips that it's a miracle he could still stand.

Of course, it's wouldn't be fair to the above-mentioned Bush without mentioning...

9. George H. W. Bush: the bloopers of this Bush were mostly overshadowed. However, that didn't cover him completely. In 1988, on the campaign trail, he described what it was like to be Reagan's vice president... "For 7-1/2 years I've worked alongside President Reagan. We've had triumphs. Made some mistakes. We've had some sex... uh... setbacks." So, when it comes to presidents 41 and 43 (the two Bush boys), you could say that the slip doesn't fall far from the tongue.

Can you think of any others back in history or more recently?

Here is a coffee mug for you Freudian fans...

Amazon MugPhoto byAmazon

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