Earlier this week Obama made a speech in New Mexico, on Memorial Day. Here's an extract:
On this memorial day, as our nation honours its unbroken line of fallen heroes - and I see many of them in the audience here today - our sense of patriotism is particularly strong.
He sees dead people!
Although there was a bit of online snickering at this mistake, it didn't draw much attention. Now, imagine if Bush had made it. Or McCain. The media and the public would have seen it as evidence of, respectively, Stupidity and Senility.
It's another example of the power of a frame to determine our responses - or lack of responses - to what a politician does or says. Obama's gaffes - for there are a growing number of them - haven't attracted much attention because they don't match up neatly to our conventional assumptions about him. After his latest - the Auschwitz claim - that may start to change.
How might Obama's frame shift? People are unlikely to start thinking Obama is Stupid. They may just start to believe he's Dishonest, as the RNC hope. But I think it's just as likely his gaffes will feed a perception that has been seeded by The Dark Prince himself, Karl Rove.
Rove thinks Obama is lazy, and has said so. He portrays Obama as a man with considerable intellectual and personal gifts who has coasted through life, skimping on the hard work, using his quick mind, easy charm, and perhaps the colour of his skin (Rove doesn't say that, but I get a sense he wants to stoke up a bit of anti-affirmative action sentiment - there may be a drop of racist stereotyping in the tag itself) to bluff his way through.
The danger for Obama is that his mistakes come to be seen as a signal that he's unprepared for the hard work and focused concentration needed for the highest office in the land - and that he's an essentially superficial character.
He ought to get more sleep.