By Keith McDowell
Some of us are easily amused. Take, for example, the identification of the Grand Old Party with the color red, as in “Red State.” Hasn’t anyone bothered to inform conservatives – the right wing in particular – that the color “red” was historically associated in the Twentieth Century with communism – as in “Red China,” the longstanding demagogic name for Maoist China? How quickly we forget. But I’ll let you in on a secret, if you promise not to tell. This branding of the GOP is actually a left-wing plot foisted on us by the liberal media brandishing a secret sense of humor. Aw shucks! If only that were really true.
But be that as it may with respect to one’s “redness,” the year 2012 witnessed the trumping of a dialogue on innovation per se by the presidential campaign and the continuing effect of a dysfunctional Congress on the U.S. economy. It was a year full of political theatre peppered by amusing and sometimes tragic sidebars. And not to be outdone by others, I close out this year of personal opining with my own “naughty, but nice” list of quotes and comments about those events that changed how we think about ourselves as individuals and as a nation. My list of awards runs the gamut from A to Z.
Awkward Advice Award: “Take a shot, go for it, take a risk, get the education, borrow money if you have to from your parents, start a business.” Mitt Romney, 27 April
Busy Bee Award: “I have a job to do. … If you think right now I give a damn about presidential politics, then you don’t know me.” Gov. Christie, 30 October.
Cheap Deal Award: “Buy one, get any two free.” Joseph A. Bank commercial.
Déjà vu Award: “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.” Eric Fehrnstrom, 21 March.
Entitlement Envy Award: “You can look at history of these things, and Social Security wasn’t devised to be a system that supported you for a 30-year retirement after a 25-year career. … So there will be things that, you know, the retirement age has to be changed, maybe some of the benefits have to be affected, maybe some of the inflation adjustments have to be revised. But in general, entitlements have to be slowed down and contained.” Lloyd Blankfein, Chairman and CEO of Goldman Sachs, 19 November.
Freshman Football Award: And the winner of the Heisman Trophy is: “Johnny Football” Manziel, quarterback of the Texas A&M Aggies. My sons, both Aggies, forced me to include this one. Gig ‘em Aggies.
Golden Fleece Award: John Boehner and the House GOP on their budget plan that takes from the 99% and gives to the 1%.
Hapless House Award: “I’m just tired of talking about it. I’d rather talk about golf.” Rep. Mack Mulvaney, South Carolina Republican, 19 December.
Instant Inspiration Award: “It’s halftime in America.” Chrysler Super Bowl commercial.
Jumping Jehoshaphat Award: “I hope he fails.” Rush Limbaugh on President Obama, January 2009.
King Karl Award: “I think this is premature.” Karl Rove’s comment on Fox News calling Ohio for Obama on Election Night.
Lots of Love Award: Mitt Romney’s claims of reviewing “binders full of women” as a governor seeking to diversify his Massachusetts administration.
Mixed Message Award: “Is it the Mitt Romney that was on the side of – against the Second Amendment before he was for the Second Amendment: Was it – was before – he was before the social programs from the standpoint of – he was for standing up for Roe v. Wade before he was against first …” Rick Perry, the gift that keeps on giving.
Not Again Award: “Simply scaling back the cliff and extending the political brinksmanship over the debt ceiling would doom the economy to at best slow growth and possibly another recession if policymakers take it down to the wire as they did in summer 2011.” Mark Zandi, Moody Analytics.
Oblivious Oops Award: “I would do it again.” Rick Perry commenting on failed presidential campaign, 18 December.
Piddling Prediction Award: “If the world doesn’t end on December 21st, 2012, I have a feeling there will be a lot of babies born on September 20th, 2013.” Anonymous
Quotable Quote Award: “Is capitalism really about the ability of a handful of rich people to manipulate the lives of thousands of other people and walk off with the money, or is that somehow a little bit of a flawed system? … I do draw a distinction between looting a company, leaving behind broken families and broken neighborhoods, and leaving behind a factory that should be there.” Newt Gingrich, 9 January.
Richie Rich Award: “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.” Mitt Romney.
Serial Sequel Award: “I showed extremely poor judgment by engaging in an extramarital affair.” David Petraeus.
Trust Me Award: “I’m an honorary consul general, so I have inviolability.” Jill Kelley, 11 November.
Under Review Award: Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell filibustering a vote that he had called for himself. Instant replay officials confirm the call on the field.
Vox Vehicular Award: Lindsay Lohan proves again that driving while sexting is dangerous to one’s image.
Window Washing Award: Tablets shouldn’t bear the Windows name according to Jeffrey Clarke of Dell Computers who suggested that extending the Windows name to tablets was a bridge too far. Did Microsoft purposely confuse consumers into believing that Surface was a PC? Text “A” for yes and” B” for no to Microsoft.
X-Factor Award: “The president’s campaign, if you will, focused on giving targeted groups a big gift. He made a big effort on small things.” Mitt Romney, 14 November.
Y Chromosome Award: “We’re not generating enough angry white guys to stay in business for the long term.” Senator Lindsay Graham, August.
Zany Zinger Award: “Under no circumstances am I going to willingly talk to the police in this country. You can say I’m paranoid about it, but they will kill me, there is no question.” John McAfee on security.
[The image of Santa was copied from the Laytonsville District Volunteer Fire Department.]