All of us can have a slip of the tongue or make an incorrect, top-of-the-head comment that we quickly come to regret. And for politicians, who can give dozens of addresses in a single day when on the campaign trail, such errors are quite common.
When the questionable comment comes from a prepared address, though, that’s where we have to draw the line. They mean it then. And sometimes they know what they’re saying is wrong, but say?it anyway, specifically to mislead and misinform.
Consider the following “17 Stupidest, Most Offensive” we gathered, for example, all of which were delivered in meetings, addresses, or prepared interviews. ?(And if you know of others of the same caliber that were issued in the same prepared format, be sure to share them in comments below and on Liberal America’s?Facebook page!)
By Tiffany Willis
1) Goodbye from the world’s biggest polluter.
That was George W. Bush‘s exiting statement from a 2008 G-8 Summit meeting in Japan. He was punching his fist in the air beaming with pride as he babbled this baloney, too. (This might be ironic, or maybe just typical, but ? W was wrong. The U.S. is actually the second biggest polluter on the planet. ? Not that it makes a difference or anything.)
2) Literally, if we took away the minimum wage ? if conceivably it was gone ? we could potentially, virtually wipe out unemployment completely because we would be able to offer jobs at whatever level.
In a Jan. 2005 interview with the Twin Cities? Pioneer Press, U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minnesota) offered this rather Marxian statement. (And the economy would be skyrocketing with all these penny-a-day workers, now wouldn’t it? I mean, we’d all have so much to spend, which would create new jobs!) It wasn’t a misstatement or slip of the tongue, either; she defended that comment, reiterating its sentiment, in a June 2011 interview with ABC News.
3) We have every mixture you can have. I have a black, a woman, two Jews and a cripple. And we have talent.
Referring to a coal leasing panel he created, James Watt, Sec. of the Interior in the Reagan Administration (1981-83), offered this magical statement while speaking to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce about Affirmative Action in Sept. 1983. The statement led to his resignation shortly after, and earned his listing in Time’s ?Top 10 Worst Cabinet Members? 25 years later.
4) They’re coming after your doughnuts!
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) issued that warning when speaking at South Carolina’s The Charleston Meeting in Nov. 2013, claiming the Food & Drug Administration’s new restriction on trans fats would completely eliminate these and other food items. (For the record: Dunkin? Donuts, Krispy Kreme and other doughnut brands do not use trans fats. Dunkin? once did, but removed that ingredient back in 2007, six years before Paul’s tirade.)
5) It’s a racist tax.
At an Aug. 2013 Town Hall meeting, Rep. Ted Yoho (R-Florida) claimed that an Affordable Care Act tax on tanning salons was discriminatory against whites. His evidence? He once met an Indian man who told Yoho that he had never used a tanning booth. (Tanning is cited as a direct cause of melanoma, and persons who use tanning salons are 20 percent more likely to acquire that cancer. The tax was already in effect on a temporary basis prior to the ACA, which only removed its temporary status.)
6) If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.
In an Aug. 2012 debate, Rep. Todd Akin (R-Missouri) offered this statement when asked if abortion in cases of rape would conflict with his pro-life stance. According to medical research, however, an average of 32,101 American women are impregnated by rape every year. In addition, almost one-third of the victims (32.4%) don’t learn of their pregnancies until the second trimester.
7) Feminism encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism, and become lesbians.
Pat Robertson isn’t an actual politician, but is active with many political groups, as well as leader of the Christian Coalition and host of The 700 Club. And it was at the 1992 Republican National Convention when made this inane comment. The delegates attending responded with a sea of applause.
8) Gee-whiz, the hormone level created by nature sets in place the possibility for these types of things to occur.
Get a bunch of 17-to-24 year olds, stick them in military barracks, and give ?em guns, and ? well, ladies?sexual assault should be expected, right? Excusable rape! That was the argument of Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Georgia) when discussing the subject at a June 2013 hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee. (The U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs reports that 28 percent of women in the military have been sexually assaulted; 55 percent faced sexual harassment.)
9) We have done our level best [to prevent blacks from voting]…we have scratched our heads to find out how we could eliminate the last one of them. We stuffed ballot boxes. We shot them. We are not ashamed of it.
This is going back many years, but its vileness hasn’t tarnished with age. In Feb. 1900, and while speaking from the Senate floor, U.S. Sen. Benjamin Ryan Tillman Jr. (D-South Carolina) admitted to racist election tampering, and even to the murder and lynching of African Americans. He stayed in that office for another 18 years, too. And a statue dedicated to this racist SOB still remains on the grounds of the South Carolina state legislature.
10) So if we decrease the use of carbon dioxide, are we not taking away plant food from the atmosphere?
At a meeting of the House Subcommittee on Energy and Environment in March 2009, U.S. Rep. John Shimkus (R-Illinois) offered this counterargument to ?Cap and Trade? regulations on CO2 emissions. (And for the record, the carbon dioxide produced by refineries far exceeds the amount that plants can consume.)
11) I don’t want to make black people’s lives better by giving them somebody else’s money.
Rick Santorum offered this comment at a Jan. 2012 press conference during his bid in the Republican presidential primary. He later tried to backpedal away from the statement, claiming he was actually saying ?blah? instead of ?black.? (Sure. We believe him.)
12) We are faced with a president who believes that men and women, no matter their effort, should all be equal. [?] You see, some of us believe in freedom. Others want equality.
So equality is a negative thing? And you can’t have freedom if everyone else has a right to equality? That was the argument of U.S. Sen. Tim Scott (R-South Carolina) against the Affordable Care Act, which he gave at an address to a local 9/12 group in his state in July 2012. Apparently, Scott doesn’t know the Declaration of Independence, the second sentence of which reads ?all men are created equal,? and upon which was this nation founded.
13) You’ve got a duty to die and get out of the way. Let the other society, our kids, build a reasonable life.
Colorado Gov. Dick Lamm (D) was supposed to be arguing for sick elderly to have the right to physician-assisted suicide when he made this statement in 1984. It wasn’t a verbal gaffe, either; Lamm was reading a prepared speech to the Colorado Health Lawyers Association.This ?duty to die? comment ? which only seemed to promote a ?Logan’s Run? society ? didn’t sit too well with his state’s senior population, though. He later switched to the Reform Party and tried to run for president in 1996, but lost this third-party nomination to Ross Perot.
14) Just think about it ? 16,500 armed bureaucrats coming to make (the Affordable Care Act) work.
Former Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) made this statement in a March 2010 interview on Fox News, claiming the ACA called for IRS agents to enforce its rulings complete with weapons. His bizarre statement originated from a press release from House Republicans on the Ways and Means Committee, but Paul added the ?armed? factor. And both Paul and House GOP Committee were proven wrong over and over again. (House GOP based its statement on the fact that the IRS might have to hire more people to handle the tax refunds more Americans would be afforded under the ACA, and retracted the silly claim shortly after its issuance ? but not soon enough to prevent Paul from expounding on it.)
15) Wind is God’s way of balancing heat. Wind is the way you shift heat from areas where it’s hotter to areas where it’s cooler. That’s what wind is. Wouldn?t it be ironic if in the interest of global warming we mandated massive switches to energy, which is a finite resource, which slows the winds down, which causes the temperature to go up? [?] I mean, it does make some sense. You stop something, you can’t transfer that heat, and the heat goes up. It’s just something to think about.
U.S. Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) offered this ?wind is a finite resource? address at a March 2009 Congressional committee meeting, supporting the oil companies in his state by attacking alternate energies with this bizarre claim.
16) (T)he idea that carbon dioxide is a carcinogen that is harmful to our environment is almost comical. Every time we exhale, we exhale carbon dioxide. Every cow in the world, you know, when they do what they do, you’ve got more carbon dioxide.
U.S. Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio) offered this claim in an April 2009 interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos. (We can honestly say, though, that when Boehner speaks junk like this, the words from his mouth smell just like cow manure.)
17) I think it was a mistake that President Obama and the Democrats shut the government down this fall.
In Sept. 2013, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) actually called for a government shutdown during his ham-it-up filibuster. And in October that year, it was Republicans in the House who arranged the shutdown, with Rep. Eric Cantor making a last-minute rule change that prevented a vote. But somehow Cruz had the audacity to shift the blame in a Jan. 2014 television interview.
Know of any other stupid, offensive quotes from politicians that you think missed the list? Share them on Liberal America’s Facebook page!
Amid several ethics scandals, the city government has dramatically improved its delivery of services -- even as demand has increased.
Story by Peter Harkness
I was born and raised in Washington, D.C. It’s my hometown.
It’s also the hometown of the federal government, a relationship that dates back all the way to 1791, when the city was founded by Congress as a federal district. Almost a century later, Georgetown, a small port on the Potomac River, was incorporated under a single municipal government and the District of Columbia was born.
Today, it is the D.C. government that federal officials in the executive branch and Congress interact with more than any other locality, or more than any state. And the relationship between the two governments isn’t always amicable.
For starters, voting is a major point of contention. Please understand that eligible voters among the 617,000 District residents do not have the right to vote for a congressional representative. We pay federal taxes like everyone else, but we can only vote for a nonvoting delegate who sits in on House committees, but has no real say. We couldn’t even vote for president until 1961. Beyond that, Congress has an almost imperial control of our budget and all other laws our Council enacts.
But sometimes you can’t blame Congress for its heavy-handedness. These federal officials in the bureaucracy and Congress form their impression of the District based on what they see right in front of them every day. That’s not so good when you consider D.C.’s recent and not-so-recent history.
Marion Barry, who may be one of the craftiest politicians I’ve ever seen, as well as one of the most deeply corrupt, served four terms as mayor. We finally escaped his grip in 1995 when Congress created a financial control board to oversee all municipal spending and rehabilitate a city government that was in a fiscal and political death spiral. Three years later, Anthony Williams, the former finance officer for the control board, was elected mayor, served two terms and transformed D.C.’s government. He was so successful that the oversight board went out of business in the middle of his first term. In 2006, Adrian Fenty, a young, energetic, impatient and abrasive reformer with the political skills of a drill sergeant, succeeded Williams.
Unfortunately, as the Tea Party Congress convened last year, they didn’t see the new, transformed D.C. Instead, they saw a series of bad news stories in the local press.
Fenty had lost his re-election bid to Vincent Gray, the Council chairman who almost immediately was accused of paying off a competitor no one had ever heard of named Sulaimon Brown to stay in the race if he would continue attacking Fenty. Gray allegedly even offered Brown a government job, which he eventually took, but was fired within weeks for incompetence. The whole matter is under federal investigation.
Then newly elected Council Chairman Kwame Brown ordered up not one, but two “fully loaded,” $2,000-a-month Lincoln Navigator SUVs for his personal use, defying not only the city’s supposedly stringent cap on spending, but also its devout green policy.
In December, a District councilman admitted in federal court that he had defrauded the city -- specifically programs for disadvantaged youths -- of $353,000 in public funds to pay for a fancy car, a trip to Pebble Beach and even a dinner at Hooters.
Another member, the son of former U.S. Commerce Secretary Ron Brown in the Clinton administration, is being investigated for pushing online gambling legislation while working at a law firm that represents clients who would profit from the gaming. (Please see editor's note below.)
Then, there is the part-time City Council itself, which has 13 members and is the second-highest paid in the country at $125,000 annually per council member, except for its chairman, who makes $190,000. Some of its members even maintain lucrative jobs in the private sector.
I could go on. Marion Barry isn’t the mayor, but he’s still on the Council and still in trouble: He seems to have a perennial problem paying his federal taxes.
It’s as if a new mentality has seeped in that permits what in many cities and counties would be deemed wildly inappropriate. Each Council member has been allowed to raise $80,000 a year in private constituent services funds, mainly from special interests. They can legally spend the dollars on almost anything they want. It’s a mentality that may have spread through the ranks. Nearly 90 employees recently were suspended and face potential firing and prosecution for illegally receiving unemployment benefits while holding city jobs.
Unquestionably, our city government has been keeping FBI and IRS agents very busy, not to mention Justice Department attorneys. Even the new Congress has had their hands full making sure we don’t enact any gun control laws or do anything else they wouldn’t do back home.
In spite of all of this, a new analysis of city performance scrutinized by The Washington Post and Georgetown University shows that in the wake of the Williams-Fenty reform movement, the city government has dramatically improved its delivery of services, even as demand has increased. It shows the murder rate is falling like a rock. And the newest Census data shows D.C. is the fastest growing city in the country, and not because of jobs in the federal workforce, which are actually declining.
Best yet, the Council has passed an ethics law, which, while watered down, at least cuts those allowable constituent services slush funds in half. You take progress where you can find it.
Editor’s Note: Since this article was written and edited, the D.C. Office of the Inspector General has finished its investigation and released a report that found no evidence that Councilmember Michael Brown had lobbied or received anything on behalf of any gaming entity while sponsoring gaming legislation. The report also stated that the “better course of action” would have been for the councilmember to alert the Council that his law firm had a gaming practice, or to seek an interpretive opinion about his activities.