It’s that time of year when we review the weird and wacky comments made this past year by some of our public figures, prompting the always apt phrase, “Is this a great country or what?”
This week we will rankle the Republicans. Next week, the Democrats.
Sen. Larry Craig, R-Idaho, who had a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad year, was arrested in a men’s room at the Minneapolis airport in an undercover sex sting. He refused to resign, stating he was innocent although he had pleaded guilty to proposing a homosexual encounter.
According to the arrest report prepared by Sgt. Dave Karsnia, “Craig stated … he has a wide stance when going to the bathroom and that his foot may have touched mine.” Sgt. Karsnia asked him if he did anything with his feet. Craig replied, “Positioned them, I don’t know. I don’t know at the time. I’m a fairly wide guy.”
Responding to a series of scandals, GOP strategist Scott Reed said, “The real question for Republicans in Washington is how low can you go, because we are approaching a level of ridiculousness.”
The pundits get up every day and thank the heavens for President Bush, whose Bushisms make almost every day a little funnier.
In a speech in November at New Albany, Ind., he said, quite seriously, “If you’ve got somebody in harm’s way, you want the president being — making advice, not — be given advice by the military, and not making decisions based upon the latest Gallup poll or focus group.” Whatever.
Earlier that month at his Crawford, Texas, ranch, he said, “I don’t particularly like it when people put words in my mouth, either, by the way, unless I say it.”
In October, in a speech in Lancaster, Pa., the president said, “You know, when you give a man more money in his pocket — in this case, a woman more money in her pocket to expand a business, it — they build new buildings. And when somebody builds a new building somebody has got to come and build the building. And when the building expanded it prevented additional opportunities for people to work.”
On his favorite subject, the No Child Left Behind law, Bush said in New York last September, “As yesterday’s positive report card shows, childrens do learn when standards are high and results are measured.”
In May, the president raised eyebrows when he said, “We understand the fright that can come when you’re worried about a rocket landing on top of your home.”
Despite being the son of a politician as well as one himself, the president never tires of disdaining the pols. “There’s a lot of blowhards in the political process, you know, a lot of hot-air artists, people who have got something fancy to say.”
As a historian, the president is a little lacking. In Martinsburg, W. Va., on July 4, he said, “More than two decades later, it is hard to imagine the Revolutionary War coming out any other way.”
Sigh. We know what he means to say; we just never hear it exactly from his own lips.
Vice President Dick Cheney’s wife Lynne is used to defending him. When former president Jimmy Carter called the vice president a disaster and a militant who had too much influence on foreign policy, Mrs. Cheney responded, “Dogs don’t bark at parked cars.”
In October the Army put a recruiting advertisement on GLEE.com, a networking Web site for gay professionals, who as open homosexuals, are barred from military service. Queried, Maj. Michael Baptista, the advertising branch chief for the Army National Guard, protested: “We didn’t knowingly advertise on that particular Web site.”
Trying to complain that not all Islamic clerics protest radical Islamic acts, Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., the national security adviser to Rudy Giuliani, said, “Unfortunately, we have too many mosques in this country.” He’s still trying to explain.
So is Rep. Tom Tancredo, the Republican presidential candidate from Colorado. He said this past summer that another terror attack on the United States was likely. He said the United States should warn that another attack would be “followed by an attack on the holy sites in Mecca and Medina. You had better find a deterrent or you will find an attack. There is no other way around it. There have to be negative consequences for the actions they take. That’s the most negative I can think of.”
A campaign strategist to John McCain, explaining last July why the presidential campaign of John McCain was in trouble, said, “We began the campaign believing our own b.s.”
McCain, 71, was asked by a high school student if he is too old to be president. McCain shot back, “Thanks for the question, you little jerk. You’re drafted.”
(Scripps Howard columnist Ann McFeatters has covered the White House and national politics since 1986. E-mail amcfeatters(at)hotmail.com.)