I would say “there are no words”, but my inner comedian wants to finish that as a sentence with “in Mitt Romney’s vocabulary”.
There is no way to put a good spin on this. Either Romney mispronounced the name of a group which has just been violently attacked, in which case he is too undiplomatic to be President, or he genuinely can’t tell the difference between a Sikh (a member of a fairly large religious group mostly based in India) and a “sheik” (a title in Arabic cultures), in which case he is too incompetent to be President.
Don’t tell me “hey, it was just a slip of the tongue”. We know it wasn’t, because Romney repeated this “slip”. Here’s what he said, verbatim:
“We had a moment of silence in honor of the people who lost their lives at that SHEIK TEMPLE. I noted that it was a tragedy for many, many reasons. Among them are the fact that people, the SHEIK PEOPLE, are among the most peaceable and loving individuals you can imagine, as is their faith.”
This is not like 1996, when dottering old Robert Dole was campaigning against Bill Clinton and made a reference to how well pitcher Hideo Nomo and the “Brooklyn Dodgers” were doing. That was a slip, and frankly, one that baseball fans will easily forgive. (In my mind, they will _always_ be the Brooklyn Dodgers.)
Bob Dole momentarily happened to use a term he remembered, which related old information, rather than the current term for the same thing. That’s not such a big deal. I didn’t get from this that Dole really was unaware the Dodgers had moved to Los Angeles.
But what Romney’s “slip” reveals is that there was nothing in his head about Sikhs before, and precious little is there now. He mispronounced this word because he genuinely knows nothing about Sikhs. He conflated the word with a word relating to the Arab-Muslim part of the world, because that’s unfortunately what a lot of Americans do, and Romney is, unfortunately, like a lot of Americans.
What Romney knew was that there had been another shooting tragedy in the US, that he is expected to say something vague and apolitical about what a tragedy it is, speak to the lingering fear that Republicans don’t give a crap about anyone who isn’t Christian, and keep the topic off of the access a white supremacist Nazi had to a semi-automatic weapon and multiple magazines of ammunition. That’s all. No more knowledge was brought to the table…and it shows.
Romney’s media handlers come of even more incompetent than does Romney. Here is a bunch that, during Romney’s trip to Poland, were telling reporters to “Kiss my ass. This is a Holy site for the Polish people. Show some respect.” But apparently they can’t work up enough respect for American Sikhs to have him practice a short speech so they can discern whether he knows how to pronounce the _word_ Sikh, or to write it out phonetically on his teleprompter, the way they do for network newscasters.
I’m worried that Romney might be this much of a gigantic dummy, but what worries me even more, the fear that lurks at the back of my mind, is that he might actually be doing this on purpose in an attempt to be smart. He knows that many Americans can’t tell a Sikh from a sheik. Is he trying to communicate to those people? Is he sending them a message that he won’t be a president who lords over them with his intelligence? Is he trying to say “I know I might intimidate you a bit, but hey, don’t worry, I’m just as clueless as you are”?
But whatever Romney is trying to do – or not realising he has done – one thing is clear – America would be highly diminished with this oaf as its president.