From Obama effigies and hate speech to coded racial commentary and flat-out lies, this campaign season has had no shortage of bizarre, infuriating and downright insane political moments. As the presidential election approaches, we’re collecting them here for a special edition of our Crazy Talk series. We couldn’t make this stuff up if we tried.
Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2:42 p.m. EDT: Democrats have a lock on the stupid votes? “We have to give it up. Democrats have a lock on the stupid voters. We are never going to get them. They have feeble-minded women. They apparently have 6-year-old kids who have been told Republicans are killing the polar bears,” conservative author and political pundit Ann Coulter said recently on Hannity while discussing a supposed political ad of children singing, according to Real Clear Politics. Then, in response to a question from Sean Hannity about whether she thought President Barack Obama was on the defensive in battleground states, she said, “I’m worried the Democrats are going to steal Ohio. They’ve put all their eggs in that basket.” Stunning allegation from a party whose presidential candidate in 2000, George W. Bush, narrowly lost the popular vote to Democrat Al Gore but defeated Gore in the Electoral College. In the highly contested election, Gore became the third presidential candidate to receive the largest share of the popular vote while losing the electoral vote.
Friday, Oct. 26, 8:24 a.m. EDT: Colin Powell likes Obama just because he’s black? “When you take a look at Colin Powell, you have to wonder whether that’s an endorsement based on issues or whether he’s got a slightly different reason for preferring President Obama … Well, I think when you have somebody of your own race that you’re proud of being president of the United States, I applaud Colin for standing with him,” top Romney adviser John Sununu said on Piers Morgan last night. Interestingly, Sununu’s Twitter feed would suggest that he’s the one preoccupied with the president’s race (and not in a way that anyone would applaud).
Wednesday, Oct. 24, 11:26 a.m. EDT: Herman Cain: Chris Matthews playing race card: Mr. “I left the Democratic plantation a long time ago,” former Republican presidential hopeful Herman Cain said on Fox News today about his disdain for what he sees as the liberal media’s propensity for “playing the race card,” Mediaite reports. In particular he criticized MSNBC’s Chris Matthews, who has said that the right “hate[s] Obama” and that they “want him out of the White House more than they want to destroy al-Qaida. Their No. 1 enemy in the world right now, on the right, is their hatred, hatred for Obama. And we can go into that about the white working class in the South, and looking at these numbers we’re getting the last couple days about racial hatred in many cases … this isn’t about being a better president; they want to get rid of this president.”
Tuesday, Oct. 23, 2:27 p.m. EDT: Ann Coulter calls President Obama a “retard”: Well, this would fall into the category of insults that are much more revealing about the speaker (or tweeter, as the case may be) than they are about the person targeted. On Twitter after the third and final presidential debate between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, the conservative commentator told followers, “I highly approve of Romney’s decision to be kind and gentle to the retard.” The social backlash included “Are you out of your f–king mind?” (Anyone familiar with Coulter’s increasingly outrageous commentary should be able to answer that one pretty easily.) Read more at the Huffington Post.
Monday, Oct. 22, 12: 11 p.m. EDT: Google reveals disturbing Obama-related search data: On Election Day in 2008, roughly 1 in 100 searches that included “Obama” also included “KKK” or “nig–r.” “Michelle Obama ugly” receives three times as many searches as “Michelle Obama beautiful.” And, not surprisingly, states in which Obama underperformed in 2008 were also the states that searched most often for “Obama Muslim.” On a nonracial note, “Paul Ryan Shirtless” is nine times more popular a search than “Paul Ryan budget.” Not exactly news that inspires confidence in the American electorate. Read more at Gawker.
Thursday, Oct. 18, 12:08 p.m. EDT: Farther from God now than during slavery? “We strayed away different times. Andrew Jackson’s time was not a great time; different times slavery was a blot on our existence,” Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) said this week, adding, “But the trouble is we have never as an entire nation overall been so far away from God’s teaching.” Speaking on a conference call with far-right pastor Rick Scarborough, he warned that the much-worse-than slavery sins going on today could lead the nation “toward the end of [its] existence.” Read more at the Huffington Post.
Wednesday, Oct. 17, 1:28 p.m. EDT: Geraldo to Obama: “Balls are a beautiful thing”: Just when you thought Mitt Romney was a bit disrespectful to the office of the president in some of his snippier moments last night, there’s this: Fox News reporter Geraldo Rivera praised Obama’s more assertive performance at Tuesday night’s town hall-style debate at Hofstra University with this tweet: “Congrats Mr. President balls are a beautiful thing,” Mediaite reports.
Tuesday, Oct. 16, 12:11 p.m. EDT: White liberals threaten “black riots” when losing? On his show Monday night, Sean Hannity addressed the motivation of “those who say there will be riots if Romney wins.” (No, we don’t have any idea who is actually saying that.) “You know why this is happening?” Hannity asked. “Because his numbers with women are way up.” Guest and election-season offensive gaffe machine Ann Coulter piped in with, “White liberals are always threatening black riots whenever they’re about to lose an election,” Mediaite reports. So the second presidential debate is on tonight, providing plenty of legitimate political material to discuss, but we’re talking about imaginary “black riots.” Sounds about right for these two.
Monday, Oct. 15, 4:55 p.m. EDT: GOP Pep Talk: “Send Obama back to Kenya”: You always know things are getting intense politically when Republicans start reminding people of President Obama’s ties to Africa (where he was not born, but if they haven’t gotten that after four years, maybe it’s a lost cause). Mediaite reports that at a Republican brunch event this morning that was attended by RNC Chairman Reince Priebus, the son of Wisconsin GOP Senate candidate Tommy Thompson told the audience, “We have the opportunity to send President Obama back to Chicago … or Kenya.” A woman in the audience added, “We are taking donations for that Kenya trip.” Thompson’s campaign has now issued a vague statement that says nothing about why the statement was inappropriate (“The Governor has addressed this with his son, just like any father would do. Jason Thompson said something he should not have, and he apologizes”).
Friday, Oct. 12, 12:01 p.m. EDT: “Some girls rape easy” backlash continues: Wisconsin Freshman Rep. Roger Rivard lost Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan’s endorsement on Thursday after claiming that “some girls, they rape so easy,” and then “clarifying” the remark, saying, “[My father] also told me one thing: ‘If you do [have premarital sex], just remember, consensual sex can turn into rape in an awful hurry,’ ” the New York Daily News reports. Later, Rivard’s camp issued another clarification, calling rape a “horrible act of violence.” Sure took a long time to state the obvious.
Wednesday, Oct. 10, 3:31 p.m. EDT: Paul Ryan on inner-city character development:Republican vice presidential hopeful Paul Ryan, when asked whether this country has a gun problem, responded in a recent interview, “The best thing to help prevent violent crime in the inner cities is to bring opportunity in the inner cities. Is to help teach people good discipline, good character.” We were with him right up to the “opportunity” bit.
First, it’s curious that this conservative candidate would place the government in charge of what we can only imagine would be the pretty intrusive work of character development for would-be criminals. But AlterNet’s Laura Gottesdiener captures the real issue with the statement, which was unfortunately even more problematic than the out-of-touch gaffes we’ve come to expect in the run-up to the election:
The idea feeds into the well-developed propaganda about the “culture of poverty,” the idea, first pushed under Reagan, that the inferior ethics of the inner city is what keeps its residents impoverished.
This theory entirely disregards chronic unemployment, failing schools, institutional racism, political disenfranchisement and the dozens of other structural forces that create chaos and crime in swaths of the country that capitalism has effectively abandoned. To hear such a dangerously misinformed statement coming out of the mouth of a vice presidential candidate less than a month before the election is terrifying.
Wednesday, Oct. 10, 3 p.m. EDT: Obama-inspired chair lynching? An Austin, Texas, homeowner hung an empty folding chair from a tree branch in front of his house and later attached an American flag to it. NCB News reports that he told a political blogger who expressed concerns about the display, “You can take it and go straight to hell and take Obama with you.” Meanwhile, in Virginia, an empty chair with a sign reading “Nobama” was strung from a tree in or near a park. The image of an empty chair has been linked to President Obama since Clint Eastwood used one to represent him at this year’s Republican National Convention, but the symbol is now being used in ways that cross over from bizarre to disturbing.