Yes, another end-of-the-year list but please indulge me as I count down the Top 15 political quotes of 2012. Most of these are quotes that changed the direction of the biggest political story of the year – the Presidential election. Whether spoken by one of the candidates or a surrogate, these are the quotes that I think made the biggest impact. The Associated Press has their list and we have a few that are the same but my list is a bit more… weird. Kind of like me. In no particular order, I give you… 1.
1. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie: “I have a job to do…If you think right now I give a damn about presidential politics, then you don’t know me.” After Hurricane Sandy decimated parts of New Jersey, Christie did what a governor is supposed to do – see to the welfare of the people and property of his state. Coming so close to Election Day, Christie’s cooperation with and praise of President Obama did not sit well with Republican pundits. When the governor went on Fox and Friends soon after a joint Obama-Christie news conference, Doocy and company tried to drum up enthusiasm for a potential Romney photo-op visit to New Jersey. Gov. Christie’s answer got him into more hot water with the GOP punditocracy. That their opinion didn’t matter to him speaks well of Christie and earned him a spot on my list.
2. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke: “Under current law, on January 1st, 2013, there is going to be a massive fiscal cliff of large spending cuts and tax increases.” Because Bernake’s use of the words “fiscal cliff” gave us a name for the economic armageddon we fell over last night. I don’t know about you but I will be happy for the rest of my life if I never hear those words again.
3. Romney senior campaign adviser Eric Fehrnstrom: “You hit a reset button for the fall campaign; everything changes. It’s almost like an Etch A Sketch. You can kind of shake it up and we start all over again.” Fehrnstrom’s comment gave us a new nickname for Mitt Romney: the Etch-A-Sketch Candidate. And he certainly lived up to it, changing his persona almost weekly. Is he “severely conservative” or a moderate? Nobody could count on Romney to be consistent, which is part of what made his campaign so fun.
4. Missouri senatorial candidate Todd Akin: “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.” How to blow up your candidacy in one easy step. This quote from crazy Akin got a lot of mileage both from Democrats and Republicans, though the latter tried to spin it while the former used it as a wedge. It killed any chance the GOP had of unseating Sen. Claire McCaskill, helping the Dems tilt the Senate a little more in their direction.
5. President Obama: “Well, Governor, we also have fewer horses and bayonets because the nature of our military has changed. We have these things called aircraft carriers where planes land on them. We have these ships that go underwater, nuclear submarines.” Sure, it was a bit condescending but it sure got people talking. It seemed appropriate to many of us that Mr. Obama explain this point to Mittens as if the Republican was a child. Fact-checkers and history wonks went a little crazy over it while Liberals (like myself) showered some love on it.
6. President Obama: “Please proceed, Governor.” THE best line from that great (or awful, depending on your viewpoint) third debate. We watched with stifled laughter as Romney pulled that rope with him and we rubbed our hands together with glee when the President uttered these words. And sure enough, Romney blundered on and had to be fact-checked live. It was a delicious moment of Schadenfreude. And a huge blunder for Romney.
7. Mitt Romney: “We took a concerted effort to go out and find women who had backgrounds that could be qualified to become members of our cabinet (in Massachusetts). I went to a number of women’s groups and said, “Can you help us find folks?” and they brought us whole binders full of women.” Ah, the “binders full of women.” The quote, coming as it did just before Halloween, inspired some women to compose a costume illustrating the idea. It also sent women across the country into paroxysms of laughter. When it was pointed out that the binders had been presented to then-governor Romney rather than his staff putting them together, the campaign had another gaffe to try to spin.
8. Mitt Romney: “There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what … who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims. … These are people who pay no income tax. … and so my job is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them that they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.” This was it, in the opinion of many political wonks and pundits – this was what swung the election and killed Romney’s chances. After wondering for over a year who the “real” Mitt Romney was, we found out in this clandestine recording of him among his peers. Speaking to other rich, entitled people he denigrated the folks that would back Obama and blundered his campaign into free-fall. There were other terrible things he said in that speech but this was all the American people needed to hear.
9. Paul Ryan: “[T]he reason I got involved in public service, by and large, if I had to credit one thinker, one person, it would be Ayn Rand. And the fight we are in here, make no mistake about it, is a fight of individualis versus collectivism.” and “We have responsibilities, one to another – we do not each face the world alone. And the greatest of all responsibilities, is that of the strong to protect the weak. The truest measure of any society is how it treats those who cannot defend or care for themselves.” Mr. Ryan was Romney’s choice for running mate. Thinking that he had scored with the Tea Party folks as well as fiscal conservatives, he thrust Paul Ryan into the spotlight. When Ryan’s hero-worship of Ayn Rand was revealed to a wide audience, he had to find a way to disavow his adoration of the Mother of Objectivism. I thought it was funny that his position took such a sudden 180 that he probably got whiplash.
10. Businessman Foster Friess: “This contraceptive thing, my gosh, it’s so… inexpensive. Back in my days, they used Bayer aspirin for contraceptives. The gals put it between their knees, and it wasn’t that costly.” Like Andrea Mitchell, who was interviewing him at the time, most of us were gobsmacked by this comment. Mr. Friess, who was Rick Santorum’s sugar daddy, just had to get his two cents in on the whole contraception thing. And when he did, we got an absolutely stunning and memorable quote.
11. Senatorial candidate Richard Mourdock: “I struggled with it myself for a long time, but I came to realize, life is that gift from God, and I think even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape that it is something that God intended to happen.” Another Republican candidate who just couldn’t keep his mouth shut about rape, Mourdock lost his party another possible Senate seat. When the Indiana hopeful felt that he had to elucidate his position on abortion during a debate he sealed his fate. Of course, he tried to blame that go-to scapegoat of all Republicans who make a gaffe, the “liberal media.” But it wasn’t anyone but Mourdock himself who blew his chances.
12. President Obama: “By the way, we have to fix that.” On election night, President Obama gave a great acceptance speech. In it, he made reference to all the voters who had stood in line and fought for their right to cast a ballot. He almost off-handedly added this remark. In the face of GOP efforts to disenfranchise millions of voters, all it took was a short quip for lawmakers at state and federal levels to start writing bills expanding and strengthening the Voting Rights Act. Even the Supreme Court took notice.
13. Presidential candidate Rick Santorum: “I don’t want to make black (blah) people’s lives better by giving them somebody else’s money.” This was another candidate freezing remark, this time from the regressive Santorum. In a speech to supporters, somehow forgetting for a second that a camera was on, he started to say what he really thought. He tried to stop but it was too late. His ridiculous spin, that he meant “blah” people was seen as exactly what it was – nonsense. And another GOP darling faded away.
14. Actor Clint Eastwood: “If somebody’s dumb enough to ask me to go to a political convention and say something, they’re gonna have to take what they get.” Sure, the whole speech was… odd. The octogenarian actor had a rambling, sometimes incoherent conversation with a chair standing in for Pres. Obama fer crying out loud. But this comment which came after the whole event led some of us to think that perhaps Clint punked the entire Republican Convention. Perhaps he did but he’s not talking about it anymore so we may never know.
15. Presidential candidate Newt Gingrich: “By the end of my second term, we will have the first permanent base on the moon and it will be American.” What can we say about Newtie? The moon base comment was the final straw, many feel. After his insistence that children should clean their own schools and his blindingly racist remarks, this was the proverbial straw that broke… in this case, the candidate’s back.
There were others but I had to stop. So many dumb comments, so little time. Or, in some cases, so many inspiring comments, so little time. Either way, this was an interesting year for stand-out (or stand-up) quotes. Between the circus that was the GOP primary, the re-election of a historic President and the burn out of Mitt Romney, political wonks like me had a field day. 2013 may bring us even more fascinating events and people, but even if it doesn’t we have the 2014 elections to look forward to. I can’t wait!
T. Steelman is a life-long Liberal. She has been writing online about politics since 2007. She lives in Western Washington with her husband, daughter, 2 cats and a small herd of alpacas. How can anybody be enlightened? Truth is, after all, so poorly lit…