World’s Smallest Ethics Trainwreck: The OIHO ‘Gotcha!’

“You say OIHO, and I say OHIO…Let’s call the whole thing off!”

This is, even now, but a mini-train wreck, not even an H-O size train wreck, but more like a wreck involving those wooden Thomas the Tank Engine models, maybe between Percy and Duncan. Still, it’s depressing, and shows how far our political system and the media have sunk.

President Obama was campaigning in Ohio, and got conned into being part of a cheerleading-style array spelling out OHIO, except that he was in the wrong position, and ended up as the H in “OIHO.” This may have been legitimate fodder for Jon Stewart on a slow day, but otherwise was completely meaningless, and not worth the time it took to write or talk about it. Never mind, though: the conservative blogs and talk show mockers were out in force, pointing out that while the liberal media ridiculed Dan Quayle for misspelling “potato” and Michele Bachmann and Sarah Palin for any number of ridiculous statements, they readily excused Mr. Perfect because in their eyes he can do no wrong.

This, of course, was both stupid and ethically stupid. Yes, the media was unfair to Quayle—20 years ago!—whom it had decided was an idiot, and thus the potatoe incident was pure confirmation bias. No, the news media was not unfair to Bachmann and Palin, because in most of their historical gaffes they continued to assert that they were right anyway, and both are irresponsibly careless with facts and deserved to be called on it. Just because the news media was unfair in the case of Quayle would not justify it being unfair to Obama, and nobody, but nobody, really thinks he doesn’t know how to spell Ohio. Even Dan Quayle knows how to spell Ohio.

It all would have languished as but another example of nasty over-reach by conservative talk radio and the right-wing blogosphere if 1) the Romney campaign didn’t jump on the bandwagon, with a campaign spokesman tweeting about this less-than-trivial incident, and 2) the Washington Post hadn’t rushed to the President’s rescue, pronouncing that the picture was photoshopped. There was no good reason for the Post to do this, and no evidence to support it. Nonetheless, the Post’s completely unsupported allegation of a campaign dirty trick was picked up by other sources, like ABC’s Jake Tapper, until it became undeniable that the OIHO snapshot was genuine, and the Obama campaign sent out a correctly-staged version that spelled OHIO. Then the Post had to retract its accusation.

I don’t know which is more disgusting, Romney’s campaign stooping to such petty (pardon my French) bullshit, or the Post outing itself as a shameless partisan fixer for the Obama campaign, or, in the alternative, as so unprofessionally starry-eyed over the President that its reporters  can’t conceive that  reports of even his smallest errors are accurate. As an anti-Obama tweeter tweeted:

“What did they do here? Immediately jump to cover for The One, like the sycophants they always are. Oh, Barack! You can’t possibly ever make a mistake! You are so unprecedented and awesome and stuff. Also, so dreamy!”

And the Post deserves every word.

The whole thing is depressing.


Pointer: Instapundit


Ethics Alarms attempts to give proper attribution and credit to all sources of facts, analysis and other assistance that go into its blog posts. If you are aware of one I missed, or believe your own work was used in any way without proper attribution, please contact me, Jack Marshall, at


8 thoughts on “World’s Smallest Ethics Trainwreck: The OIHO ‘Gotcha!’

  1. This may date me, but I recall clearly when my brother-in-law was on Guam at the NASA tracking station there during the Apollo missions (I had decided to take a year off from college and spend time in the Western Pacific attending the University of Guam until I got serious), and when the astronauts stopped in on Guam to say “thanks for your support” after one of the moon missions, someone had made a sign that misspelled ‘Apollo.” It was embarrassing, to say the least, and everyone involved was embarrassed. Sorry, kiddos, don’t tell me that misspelling THE NAME OF A STATE is a SLIP. This is our genius president and his staff???? And Karla, how do you define this as “Freudian?” Is Ohio one that will go Republican? Look up “Freudian Slip” and defend that notion. Also, why is it okay for a former VP to misspell words when our current president can’t even spell the names of the states he wants to represent? I agree that this is not a major issue, but it’s part and parcel of the egregious, liberal excuse-making for every mistake Obama has made. We are worse off than when he was elected: fact. I don’t care how he spells, but honestly, an “intellect” like Obama, who has basically sold us to China, can at least learn to spell.

  2. I am not an apologist for the President, but I can see how this would happen. It seems as though the people representing the letters didn’t take into account that the letters have to be placed in reverse order (right to left) for spectators facing them to make out the word correctly. If they just spelled out “Ohio” as if they were writing it (left to right), then they were all in the right positions for viewers behind them to see the name correctly, but not for those in front. Since Ohio starts and ends with the same letter it might be tricky to recognize the error right away.

  3. Interestingly enough the PEW Research Center released this report today that concludes it isn’t as favorable for Obama as you think. In fact, they demonstrate that this campaign is plagued by the some of the most negative coverage in the media in recent times. And its slightly more negative for Obama.

  4. As I indicated, I think POTUS is 100% blameless here, and even if he personally organized the OIHO-fest, it is less than nothing.

    But the mention of his staff is valid: in a nation where a goofy campaign photo helped derail Mike Dukakis, a competent staff would never let Obama get in such a cheesy pose, no matter what it spelled…this campaign cycle especially.

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