13 Absurd Things Politicians Have Said While In Office That Are Still Confusing Today
Elected officials, despite all of the power and responsibilities that they enjoy, are at constant risk of embarrassing themselves. No, I'm not talking about losing a hard-fought election, or casting a vote that later becomes unpopular. The risk I'm talking about is much more simple: Getting caught saying something stupid. The many absurd things politicians have said while in office are a reminder that, though everyone says things they come to regret, the consequences of misspeaking are a whole lot worse when you're an elected official.
This is merely a small, subjective, and somewhat recent sampling of insipid political utterances. American politicians have said many preposterous things over the course of the last few centuries, and an exhaustive list would be far outside the scope of a single article (or a single book, or volume of books, for that matter).
These quotes span the last several decades, and taken in totality, they demonstrate that, for all of the ways the public discourse has changed since the 1980s, some things never change. Whether it's Dan Quayle, Marion Barry, or Sarah Palin, there will always be politicians who to put their feet in their mouths on a regular or semi-regular basis. This has produced a wealth of bonkers quotes from elected officials proving that sometimes, politicians say the darnedest things.
Vice President Dan Quayle
"You all look like happy campers to me. Happy campers you are, happy campers you have been, and, as far as I am concerned, happy campers you will always be."
Quayle was speaking to a group of Samoans during an overseas trip. "Happy campers you will always be," despite its innocuous phrasing, is actually quite a lofty promise to make.
Washington, D.C., Mayor Marion Barry
"Outside of the killings, D.C. has one of the lowest crime rates in the country."
In other words: Aside from those pesky homicides, things are looking pretty, pretty good!
President George H.W. Bush
"I do not like broccoli. And I haven't liked it since I was a little kid and my mother made me eat it. And I'm President of the United States, and I'm not going to eat any more broccoli!"
Bush was explaining why he'd prohibited broccoli from being served on Air Force One.
Speaker Of The House Newt Gingrich
"People like me are what stand between us and Auschwitz."
Gingrich, who has never personally prevented a second Holocaust, may have been giving himself a bit too much credit here.
House Majority Whip Tom DeLay
"The judges need to be intimidated. They need to uphold the Constitution."
Generally speaking, it's uncouth for lawmakers to advocate threatening members of the judicial branch in order to obtain rulings they like. Sort of goes against the whole checks-and-balances thing.
President Bill Clinton
"That depends on what the meaning of 'is' is."
There is a legitimate grammatical point in here about the distinction between the present and past tense. That doesn't make it any less of an absurd comment.
President George W. Bush
"I was like a pit bull on the pant leg of opportunity."
Bush, of course, said many regrettable things during his time as commander-in-chief. This lesser-known Bush-ism is notable, if nothing else, for the hilarious mental image it produces.
Vice President Dick Cheney
"My belief is we will, in fact, be greeted as liberators."
He was talking about the reception U.S. troops would receive upon invading Iraq. Hah!
Then-Senator Joe Biden
"You cannot go to a 7-11 or a Dunkin' Donuts unless you have a slight Indian accent. I'm not joking."
Biden's press secretary later said that the Senator was merely pointing out that "there has been a vibrant Indian-American community in Delaware for decades." That didn't make the line sound any less racist.
Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin
We're ill about this position that we have been put in, where it is the taxpayers looking to bailout. But ultimately, what the bailout does is help those who are concerned about the health care reform that is needed to help shore up our economy, helping the — it's got to be all about job creation, too. Shoring up our economy, and putting it back on the right track, so health care reform and reducing taxes and reining in spending has got to accompany tax reductions and tax relief for Americans.
Absolute word salad.
Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich
"I've got this thing, and it's f*cking golden. And I'm just not giving it up for f*cking nothing. I'm not gonna do it. And I can always — use it — and f*cking parachute me there."
Blagojevich said this in reference to an empty senate seat that he, as governor, had the opportunity to fill. He later went to prison on corruption charges.
Maine Gov. Paul LePage
"The only thing that I've heard is if you take a plastic bottle and put it in the microwave and you heat it up, it gives off a chemical similar to estrogen. So the worst case is some women may have little beards."
LePage was referring to... oh, come on, does it really matter? In no context is this a legitimate thing for a person to say.
Rep. Todd Akin
"If it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut the whole thing down."
This was a helpful but depressing reminder that, as of 2012, people still believed things like this.
These are just 13 absurd quotes from past and previous politicians that exist among the countless questionable remarks they've made throughout the years. But these quotes show us that sometimes politicians just don't think before they speak.