One of my longtime favorite Mark Twainisms is the one that goes, “Better to keep your mouth shut and appear stupid than to open it and remove all doubt.”
Every year has its bounty of boneheads issuing stupid remarks from their pieholes (and removing the doubt), but presidential election years seem to offer up a bumper crop of ‘em.
Of both boneheads and stupid remarks, that is.
Elsewhere, you’re sure to have regurgitated for you the highlights of 2012. Pardon me, but not here. Don some rubber gloves, maybe a clothes pin for the nose, for here are some of the year’s lowlights:
“I know what it’s like to worry whether you’re gonna get fired. There were a couple of times I wondered whether I was going to get a pink slip.” – Mitt Romney, trying to identify with the problems of average people (Jan. 8). His campaign could not immediately supply examples of such a time from Romney’s past.
“I like being able to fire people who provide services to me.” – Romney (Jan. 9).
“When you have a country that is being ruled by what many would perceive to be Islamic terrorists…then yes, not only is it time for us to have a conversation about whether or not they belong in NATO, but it’s time for the United States, when we look at their foreign aid, to go to zero with it.” – Texas Gov. Rick Perry, mischaracterizing – and offending – U.S. ally Turkey during the South Carolina GOP debate (Jan. 16).
“If I was on that plane with my kids, it wouldn’t have went down like it did. There would have been a lot of blood in that first-class cabin and then me saying, ‘OK, we’re going to land somewhere safely, don’t worry.’” – actor Mark Wahlberg, reflecting on 9-11, suggesting he could have single-handedly averted the tragedy. He later apologized.
“By the end of my second term, we will have the first permanent base on the moon. And it will be American.” – Newt Gingrich (Jan. 25).
“[Democrats:] Take your message of equality of achievement, take your message of economic dependency, and take your message of enslaving the entrepreneurial will and spirit of the American people somewhere else. You can take it to Europe, you can take it to the bottom of the sea, you can take it to the North Pole, but get the hell out of the United States of America.” – Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.) (Jan. 29).
“I’m very proud of how this thing was handled. I don’t think we did anything wrong….I believe the sex abuse thing was incredibly good. Good that…the record, I think, is an excellent record. And the fact that sex abuse becomes overpowering in people’s eyes, that’s a part of life.” – retired archbishop Edward Egan, on the Catholic Church’s sex-abuse scandal.
“When you look at the Tea Party, it’s much like Steve McQueen’s movie The Blob. There really is no centralized organization or structure to it.” – Allen West (Feb. 10).
“This contraceptive thing, my gosh it’s such [sic] inexpensive. Back in my days, they used Bayer aspirin for contraception. The gals put it between their knees and it wasn’t that costly.” – Foster Friess, billionaire backer of Rick Santorum, complaining that the controversy over Santorum’s stance on contraception was overblown (Feb. 16).
“[Obama's agenda is] not about you. It’s not about your quality of life. It’s not about your jobs. It’s about some phony ideal, some phony theology. Not a theology based on the Bible. A different theology.” – Santorum (Feb. 18).
“I’m against very wealthy people attempting to or influencing elections. But as long as it’s doable, I’m going to do it….I believe that people will come to their senses and not extend the current administration’s quest to socialize this country. It won’t be a socialist democracy because it won’t be a democracy.” – Sheldon Adelson, casino magnate and Gingrich donor (Feb. 22).
“I love this state. The trees are the right height.” – Romney, campaigning in Michigan (Feb. 24).
“[My wife] drives a couple of Cadillacs.” – Romney (Feb. 24).
“President Obama said he wants everybody in America to go to college. What a snob! There are good, decent men and women who go out and work hard every day and put their skills to test that aren’t taught by some liberal college professor trying to indoctrinate them. Oh, I understand why he wants you to go to college. He wants to remake you in his image.” – Santorum, (Feb. 25).
“What does it say about the college co-ed [Sandra] Fluke who goes before a congressional committee and essentially says that she must be paid to have sex – what does that make her? It makes her a slut, right? It makes her a prostitute. She wants to be paid to have sex. She’s having so much sex she can’t afford the contraception. She wants you and me and the taxpayers to pay her to have sex.”
– radio shock jock Rush Limbaugh, referring to a Georgetown Law School student who planned to tell Congress about a friend of hers who needed contraception to prevent the growth of cysts (Feb. 29).
“A Georgetown coed told Nancy Pelosi’s hearing that the women in her law school program are having so much sex they’re going broke, so you and I should have to pay for their birth control. So what would you call that? I called it what it is. So, I’m offering a compromise today: I will buy all of the women at Georgetown University as much aspirin to put between their knees as they want….So Miss Fluke and the rest of you femi-nazis, here’s the deal: If we are going to pay for your contraceptives and thus pay for you to have sex, we want something. We want you to post the videos online so we can all watch.” – Limbaugh (March 1).
“When I heard him – whoever he is, gay or lesbian – talking about dictatorship, I thought, it’s better to be a dictator than gay.” – Belarus president Alexander Lukashenko, after being criticized on human rights by Germany’s gay foreign minister (March 4).
“I thought that they would cut me off, but since they didn’t, I thought maybe it was okay because I’m not working….I feel that it’s okay because, I mean, I have no income and I have bills to pay. I have two houses.” – $1 million Michigan lottery winner Amanda Clayton, explaining to a TV reporter who confronted her about why she still collected $200-per-month food stamps from the state (March 5). Clayton, 24, was found dead of a possible drug overdose Sept. 29.
“If I’m the godfather of this thing, then it gives me the right to kill it. And if I’m the president, I will get rid of Obamacare. I will stop it in its tracks on Day One, and get it repealed.” – Romney, alluding to his having signed a universal health care law of his own as Massachusetts governor (March 26).
“It’s a tragedy that that country no longer exists.” – Margot Honecker, widow of Erich Honecker, the last chancellor of East Germany (April 2). The “purple witch” also labeled Mikhail Gorbachev a “traitor” for his reforms and belittled the hundreds who died attempting to escape over the Berlin Wall to freedom: “There was no need for them to climb over the wall, to pay for this stupidity with their lives.”
“We have a president, who I think is a nice guy, but he spent too much time at Harvard, perhaps.” – Romney, who owns two Harvard degrees himself (April 5).
“I believe there’s about 78 to 81 members of the Democrat Party that are members of the Communist Party. It’s called the Congressional Progressive Caucus.” – Allen West (April 10).
“There are a lot of things that haven’t been hammered at because Rick and Mitt have been going at each other. Now that they have trained their barrels on President Obama, I hope his teleprompters are bulletproof.” – Foster Friess (April 11).
“What is Gawker? Is that a pornographic website?” – Fox News Propaganda’s Roger Ailes after his network uncovered and sacked a rogue employee who had filed anonymous posts on Gawker that ripped Fox (April 11).
“A tempest in a teapot.” – JPMorgan Chase’s CEO Jamie Dimon’s response to press reports about first-quarter losses of $718 million by the firm’s chief investment office (April 13).
“I’ll take a lot of credit for the fact that this industry’s come back.” – Romney (May 7), on the auto industry, even though he wrote a 2008 New York Times op-ed, entitled “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt.”
“There are 47% of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47% who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it….My job is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.” – Romney, in leaked remarks at a Boca Raton fundraiser (May 17).
“My dad, as you probably know, was the governor of Michigan and was the head of a car company. But he was born in Mexico… and had he been born of, uh, Mexican parents, I’d have a better shot at winning this. But he was unfortunately born to Americans living in Mexico. He lived there for a number of years. I mean, I say that jokingly, but it would be helpful to be Latino.” – Romney, at the same fundraiser.
“We use Ann sparingly right now so that people don’t get tired of her.” – Romney, at – what else? – the Boca fundraiser.
“This all seems like a big deal. Going public is an important milestone in our history…this is an awesome moment!” – Mark Zuckerberg, during Facebook’s IPO launch-turned-dud (May 18).
“I’ve ridden elephants. I’ve never tried to shoot one.” – Gov. Rick Scott’s clumsy first words to King Juan Carlos while on a trade mission to Spain the week of May 20. The king, fresh off one of the ugliest controversies of his life – for having recently gone on an elephant hunting trip to Botswana – obviously wasn’t amused. But the clueless and tactless Slicky Ricky persisted:
“We were in Botswana and we were in the Jeep. And an elephant started to chase [us]. My wife was in the back part of the Jeep and she wanted to get out to the front of [it].”
“I needed you in the Jeep with me,” the guv’s wife leaned in to say to the king.
Spanish newspapers and late-night TV had a field day with Florida’s idiot governor.
“The private sector is doing fine.” – President Obama (June 8).
“We’re doing what a bank is supposed to do.” – JPMorgan Chase’s Dimon, testifying before a Senate committee about his multi-billion-dollar losses (June 13).
“It appears that there has been deep penetration in the halls of our United States government by the Muslim Brotherhood. It appears that there are individuals who are associated with [it] who have positions, very sensitive positions, in our Department of Justice, our Department of Homeland Security, potentially even in the National Intelligence Agency.” – Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) on the radio. She later fired off a letter repeating her claims, questioning Hillary Clinton’s longtime assistant Huma Abedin’s possible family ties to the group.
“You are the most vile, unprofessional, and despicable member of the U.S. House of Representatives….You have proven repeatedly that you are not a lady, therefore, shall not be afforded due respect from me!” – Allen West, in an email (July 19) to colleague Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.).
“It’s hard to know just how well [the 2012 London Olympics] will turn out. There are a few things that were disconcerting. The stories about the private security firm not having enough people, the supposed strike of the immigration and customs officials, that obviously is not something which is encouraging.” – Romney, insulting Britain on the eve of its Olympics (July 25).
“It seems to me, from what I understand from doctors, [pregnancies from rape are] really rare. If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.” – Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.), U.S. Senate candidate (Aug. 19).
“They came back with an urgent report. He thanks them, sent them on their way, and then did exactly nothing.” – GOP vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan, to his party’s convention (Aug. 29), criticizing Obama for not fully adopting the Simpson-Bowles Commission’s deficit recommendations, yet failing to mention that he, himself, served on the commission and voted against its final report.
“What do you want me to tell Romney? I can’t tell him to do that. He can’t do that to himself. You’re crazy. You’re absolutely crazy. You’re getting as bad as Biden.” – Clint Eastwood, addressing a chair he imagined Obama seated in, from the stage of the Republican convention in Tampa (Aug. 30).
“When you give a speech you don’t go through a laundry list, you talk about the things that you think are important.” – Romney, asked why he failed to mention the troops in his nomination speech (Sept. 7).
“You can’t change Washington from the inside.” – Obama (Sept. 20).
“When you have a fire in an aircraft, there’s no place to go…and you can’t find any oxygen from outside the aircraft to get in the aircraft, because the windows don’t open. I don’t know why they don’t do that. It’s a real problem.” – Romney, at a Beverly Hills fundraiser, failing to comprehend the concept of a pressurized cabin and suggesting it would be a good idea to crack a window at 35,000 feet (Sept. 22).
“They (the Israelis) have been occupying those territories…with the support and force of the Westerners. They have no roots there in history….[The Israelis]…come into the picture and are then eliminated.” – Iranian leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, in what has become an annual rant against – and threat to destroy – Israel, speaking before the U.N. (Sept. 24).
“All that stuff I was taught about evolution and embryology and Big Bang theory, all that is lies straight from the pit of hell. And it’s lies to try to keep me and all the folks who are taught that from understanding that they need a savior.” – Rep. Paul Broun (R-Ga.) (Sept. 27).
“They have already created chaos in many territories, and now they are continuing the same policy in other countries, including Syria.” – Russian president Vladimir Putin, casting blame on the Western allies for the civil war in Syria.
“I’m sorry Jim. I’m gonna stop the subsidy to PBS. I’m gonna stop other things. I like PBS, I like Big Bird, I actually like you, too.” – Romney, to presidential debate moderator Jim Lehrer (Oct. 3).
“Your problem is far more complicated than our problem. Your economies have reached a dead end. The American people are helpless.” – Iran’s Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, downplaying the impact of Western sanctions on his own nation’s decimated economy (Oct. 10).
“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.” – Romney, in the second presidential debate (Oct. 16).
“Government does not create jobs.” – Romney, during the same debate and 45 minutes after having vowed, “As president, I will create 12 million new jobs.”
“Well, you want to jump out of your seat and rush down to the debate stage and take a swing at him.” – Tagg Romney, asked by a radio host how he felt when the president verbally assailed his dad in the debate. He later apologized to Obama.
“The only exception I have to have an abortion is in the case of the life of the mother. I struggled with it myself for a long time, but I came to realize life is that gift from God. I think that even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen.” – U.S. Senate candidate Richard Mourdock (R-Ind.) (Oct. 23).
“Frankly, when you take a look at Colin Powell, you have to wonder whether that’s an endorsement based on issues or whether he’s got a slightly different reason for preferring President Obama. I think when you have somebody of your own race that you’re proud of being president of the United States, I applaud Colin for standing with him.” – John Sununu (Oct. 25).
“Sources confirmed to us that Hurricane Sandy that is slamming the U.S. was set off by highly advanced technologies developed by the heroic Iranian regime…with coordination of our resistive Syrian regime. This is the punishment for whoever dares to attack Syria’s [Bashar] al-Assad and threaten peace and stability.” – a pro-Syrian government group calling itself the News Network of the Syrian Armed Forces, in a Facebook posting. “Why are you surprised by such a heroic act that our special forces carried out with the help of the Iranian experts?” regime supporters added. “Yes, this is the great work of the brave lions of Syria in retaliation to the evil conspiracy against our great nation. We will have our victory even if it will take some time.”
“We have got to be careful about calling things when we have like 991 votes separating the two candidates and a quarter of the vote yet to count. Even if they have made it on the basis of select precincts, I would be very careful about intruding in this process.” – Karl Rove, on Fox News Propaganda, disputing the network’s own election night projections of an Obama victory in Ohio (Nov. 6).
“We can’t let this happen. We should march on Washington and stop this travesty. Our nation is totally divided!” “We should have a revolution in this country!” “Let’s fight like hell and stop this great and disgusting injustice! The world is laughing at us.” “This election is a total sham and a travesty. We are not a democracy!” “Our country is now in serious and unprecedented trouble…like never before.” “The electoral college is a disaster for a democracy.” – Donald Trump, reacting, in a series of tweets, to Obama’s reelection.
“Why Is Jewish owned press so consistently anti-Israel in every crisis?” – a Rupert Murdoch tweet (Nov. 17).
“If you watch ‘Two and a Half Men,’ please stop watching [it]. Please stop filling your head with filth. I don’t want to be on it.” – actor Angus T. Jones (Nov. 26), in an interview with a religious website, urging viewers to avoid the popular TV sitcom and biting the hand that feeds him most generously. According to celebritynetworth.com, such “filth” rewards Jones with $350,000 per episode, or over $8 million per season.
“I’m not going away just because of a congressional race where he seems to have to cheat to beat me.” – Sore loser Allen West, commenting about his opponent’s close win (Dec. 6).
“Obama will be on a very short leash, fiscally speaking, over the next four years. He may decide to go blow up small countries he can’t pronounce because it won’t be any fun to be here because he won’t be able to spend the kind of cash he was hoping to.” – Grover Norquist (Dec. 13).