Open up and say what?
To badly paraphrase an English proverb, there’s many a slip ’twixt the mike and the lip for politicians of all stripes. Journalist Michael Kinsley once defined a political gaffe as “... when a politician tells the truth.”If that’s the case, there was a lot of truth to be told in 2013. From President Obama having to renege on his repeated vow that you could keep your plan under the new health care law to a Nevada politcian vowing to vote for slavery if his constituents wanted it to Vice President Joe Biden calling the wrong Marty Walsh not once but twice, here’s remembering the moments of 2013 some politicians would like to forget. Next
Menino: ‘I’d blow up [Detroit]’
Outgoing Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino (right) was asked during an interview with The New York Times Magazine what other US city he would live in. He responded, “Detroit is a place I’d love to go.” When asked what he would do in Detroit, Menino said: “I’d blow up the place and start all over. No, seriously, when it takes a police officer 90 minutes to answer a call, there’s something wrong with the system.” Menino later apologized after Detroit Mayor Dave Bing (left) said Menino was insensitive. Next
Biden calls the wrong Marty Walsh. Twice.
Vice President Biden had a rough election night in November. Not because he was on the ticket anywehre. But in trying to get through to Marty Walsh, winner of the mayoral vote in Boston, Biden reached the wrong Marty Walsh. “You son of a gun, Marty!” he thundered into the cellphone of Martin Walsh. “You did it!” Turns out, Biden had called the Martin Walsh who is a former aide to Senator Edward M. Kennedy. Now head of a government relations firm, the less-famous Marty Walsh said he thanked Biden for his kind words, but told him that he had reached the wrong Marty. He offered to help the vice president track down the right one.
The Marty mix-up apparently didn’t end there, according to the Huffington Post.Biden left a congratulatory voice mail message for Walsh on the cellphone of a woman named Toni. She said she had gotten a call two days earlier from someone looking for Marty Walsh and assumed her phone number was similar to the mayor-elect’s. Next
Biden: ‘Do your husbands like your working full time?’
The coverage of that short question by Vice President Biden threatened to sidetrack his economic trip to Tokyo on Dec. 3. Biden was visiting DeNA Co. Ltd, a global Internet company providing Web services for mobile devices and PCs. Biden’s curious question may have made more sense in context. The vice president was at the company to participate in a roundtable discussion about the challenges Japanese women face in the workplace. Next
Obama: ‘If you like your plan, you can keep it.’ Or not.
President Obama had promised Americans multiple times that they would be allowed to keep their insurance if they liked it under the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. So when insurance companies sent out hundreds of thousands of cancellation notices for noncompliant plans in October and November, it created a political furor. The president took the blame in a Nov. 14 press conference, saying, “With respect to the pledge I made that if you like your plan you can keep it, the way I put that forward unequivocally ended up not being accurate.” Next
Kerry on possible military action in Syria: ‘unbelievably small’
Secretary of State John Kerry found himself having to explain his remarks on possible US military intervention in Syria. As the White House was laying out an ultimatum against the Bashir Assad regime, Kerry promised during a press conference in London that the planned US intervention would be “unbelievably small, limited kind of effort.” Opponents of US intervention in Syria seized on the remark. Senator John McCain posted on Twitter, “Kerry says #Syria would be ‘unbelievably small”—that is unbelievably unhelpful” Jay Carney, the president’s press secretary, said that Kerry was contrasting possible military action in Syria with operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Adding to the confusion over Kerry’s remark on the size of a planned US attack was his giving an unexpected out to the Assad regime, an out that the White House apparently didn’t know about. When asked how Assad could avert a US attack, Kerry said, “[Assad] could turn over every single bit of his chemical weapons to the international community in the next week, turn it over, all of it, without delay and allow the full and total accounting for that, but he isn’t about to it.” Kerry’s proposal, the White House said, was intended to be rhetorical.
Obama: Calif. AG ‘the best-looking attorney general’
During a Democratic fund-raiser in the Silicon Valley in April, the president commended California Attorney General Kalama Harris (above,) saying, “She’s brilliant and she’s dedicated, she’s tough.” He then added, “She also happens to be, by far, the best-looking attorney general.” As the crowd laughed, he continued, “It’s true! C’mon.”
Toronto mayor: ‘Yes, I have smoked crack cocaine’
Canadian politics and politicians tend to get little attention in the United States. That changed dramatically in November when Toronto mayor Rob Ford admitted he had smoked crack cocaine. Allegations of the mayor’s drug used came up after a video surfaced showing Ford smoking crack. Ford denied the video existed until polce said they had obtained a copy in the course of a drug investigation against a friend of Ford’s.
Weiner to voter: ‘You’re my judge?’
Anthony Weiner tried to use a run for the mayor of New York City in 2013 as a way to resuscitate his political career. Weiner had stepped down from his congressional seat in 2011 after he admitted to sending sexual explicit photos to a woman he met online.
But Weiner’s mayoral campaign ran into more problems. Weiner admitted in July that he continued to send explicit photos and texts a year after his resignation. Later in July, a retired teacher from Staten Island questioned Weiner’s “moral authority” to be mayor, telling Weiner, “Your standard of conduct is so much lower than the standard of conduct that’s expected of me.”
In September, on the first day of Rosh Hashanah, a Jewish voter confronted Weiner outside a bakery in Brooklyn, with Weiner asking repeatedly “you’re my judge?” The man told Weiner “You talk to God, you work out your problems, but stay out of the public eye.” Weiner responded, “I’ve fought very hard for this community and delivered more than you will ever in your entire life.”
Weiner ended up staying in the mayoral race but came in fifth in the Democratic primary held Sept. 16. Next
GOP marks the end of racism. Oh, wait...
Even away from the microphone, politicians and political groups can find ways to get into hot water. Take the Republican National Committee, which posts on Twitter @GOP. It sent out a tweet on the morning of Dec. 1 to recognize civil rights icon Rosa Parks. But the message got muddled:“Today we remember Rosa Parks’ bold stand and her role in ending racism.” That last part, “in ending racism,” got sarcastic responses on Twitter with postings using the hashtag #RacismEndedWhen. The RNC sent out a second post the afternoon of Dec. 1, clarifying its intended message: Previous tweet should have read “Today we remember Rosa Parks’ bold stand and her role in fighting to end racism.” Next
McConnell adviser on Judd: ‘She is emotionally unbalanced’
US Senator Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader in the Senate, faced a possible run against actress Ashley Judd, a Democrat. In February, McConnell and his advisers held a meeting about possible challengers to his seat and the opposition research gathered against Judd.“This is the Whac-A-Mole period of the campaign,” McConnell said. “When anybody sticks their head up, do them out.”
The group listed potential liabilities of Judd, including, according to a transcript provided to Mother Jones, that she was anti-family, anti-Christian, and anti-coal. She was also mentally unbalanced, the unnamed aide who led the meeting said. “She’s clearly, this sounds extreme, but she is emotionally unbalanced,” he said. Judd announced on Twitter in May that she would not run for the seat. Next
Nose held, Nevada lawmaker would cast vote for slavery
In August, Nevada Assemblyman Jim Wheeler told a crowd of Repulicans at a gathering that he would be in favor of legislation allowing slavery if his constituents wanted him to. “It that’s what they wanted, I’d have to hold my nose, I’d have to bite my tongue and they’d probably have to hold a gun to my head, but yeah... if that’s what the constiuency wants that elected me, that’s what they elected me for,” he said. He later apologized and criticized the media as he tried to explain his comments. Next
Michelle Obama, ‘single mother’
During an interview in April with WCAX, a Burlington, Vt., television station, Michelle Obama misspoke, calling herself “a busy, single mother.” She quickly corrected herself, joking “Sometimes when you have the husband as president, it can feel a little single.” Next
Reid takes hit on shutdown’s effect on child cancer funding
As the federal government shutdown began in October, Democratic leaders took questions about funding programs. CNN’s Dana Bash asked Harry Reid, the Senate majority leader from Nevada, about a Republican proposal to fund research for children’s cancer. “But if you could help one child with cancer, why wouldn’t you do it?” Bash asked. Senator Chuck Schumer of New York piped in: “Why pit one against the other?” Reid added, “Why, why would we want to do that? I have 1,100 people at Nellis Air Force Base that are sitting home. They have a few problems of their own.” Some took Reid’s comments to mean that he supported the shutdown over cancer research for children. Next
Alaska congressman refers to workers as ‘wetbacks’
Don Young, the second-most senior Republican in the US House, was describing the labor market in a radio interview in March . He said that on his father’s farm in central California, “We used to have 50-60 wetbacks to pick tomatoes,” adding, “It takes two people to pick the same tomatoes now. It’s all done by machine.” He later apologized, saying “there was no malice in my heart or intent to offend; it was a poor choice of words.” Next
Selfie-gate: Obama poses at Mandela memorial service
Not so much as a gaffe as an inopportune moment to pose for a picture, President Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron were all smiles when Denmark’s Prime Minister Helle Thorning Schmidt took a photo of the three of them at the Dec. 10 memorial service for South African leader Nelson Mandela. While the service wasn’t a funeral for Mandela, the moment generated a lot of talk and rebuke. Back to the beginning
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