There is a Presidential election in the greatest country on Earth later this year. Arguably the biggest story however, nearly as contentious and interesting as the election itself, is one candidate. Donald Trump, the billionaire, real estate developer, television personality, entrepreneur...whatever you want to call him, is finally running for the Republican nomination and he's the biggest story in the game of politics right now.
There are plenty of questions being thrown around with regard to Trump's political aspirations. Can a businessman run a government? That's one, and while plenty of people argue a government must operate in a fundamentally different manner from a profit based business, Trump supporters argue that a man concerned with financial considerations may be what Washington needs to combat the current money-hemorrhaging problem. Another question is whether or not a politician can just say what's on his mind.
Ever since he threw his name into the fight, Trump has been saying what has come to mind, whether it be about Muslims, Mexicans, journalists, whoever. Again, his detractors argue that politicians need to be careful with their words and speak diplomatically. On the other hand, those who like him consider most politicians to be slimy cowards whose ability with words amounts to little more than lies, thus making a man who speaks his mind like The Donald an attractive choice.
His colorful statements about the Mexicans in the United States being criminals and barring all Muslims from entering the U.S. have been the most divisive of the campaign so far. With that said however, he isn't the first politician to say ridiculous things that warranted massive "face-palms". Here are some other ridiculous, absurd and terrible quotes from political leaders who make Trump seem...almost normal. Almost.
12 Steve Stockman - Babies and Guns
"If babies had guns, they wouldn't be aborted".
Steve Stockman is a Texan and Republican who has held office twice in the House of Representatives. Back in 2013, Stockman was running for office after a fifteen year hiatus from politics and came up with this gem for a bumper sticker. The statement sure does indicate that Stockman is pro-life and pro-gun, but even as a meaningless bumper sticker, it earned him little in the way of fans who weren't already supporters.
I'll admit, when I first read this quote it brought a thought to mind of an old Family Guy gag in which a baby was born with a gun, and proceeded to hold the doctor and his mother hostage. I wonder if that's where Stockman got the idea...
11 Mary Frances Berry - Civil Rights Laws
"Civil rights laws were not passed to protect the rights of white men and do not apply to them"
If you thought I'd stick to white Republicans for this entire article, you were wrong. I'll be skewering left and right and all colors and creeds here because when all is said and done, everyone's an idiot. While Mary Frances Berry is primarily an academic, she used to be the chairwoman of the U.S. Commission on Human Rights, an undeniably political position, while it probably shouldn't be. Saying that civil rights legislation has nothing to do with a certain group misses the entire spirit of those initiatives. The purpose and wording of the document includes the fact that it applies to all people, but heck, maybe this is all up to interpretation and maybe I'm wrong.
10 Harry Truman - An Army of WHAT?
For those whose American history chops are less than stellar, Harry Truman took over as President of the United States in April, 1945, after Franklin Delano Roosevelt died. A few months later he used two nuclear bombs to destroy Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan, in order to bring an end to the Pacific Campaign of World War Two.
While he is popularly remembered as the man who ended the war and who, after the war, made civil rights a priority, Harry Truman was far from a saint. Historians have pointed out that while his outward political attitudes were far from those of his private life. He was documented as saying that men are all equal as long as they were not black or Asian (he used the N-bomb and the word "Chinaman"), and referred to the waiters in the White House as an army of c**ns. Then again, if one were to play the devil's advocate, he was saying these things back between the 30's and 50's when such slurs were not nearly as offensive as they are today.
9 Bill Clinton - Obama and Coffee
“A few years ago, this guy would have been getting us coffee.”
Coincidentally, a few days ago, a woman in Arkansas gave birth to six babies. When asked about the incident, Bill Clinton himself said in a press conference "I did not have sexual relations with that woman". That was a joke, and a good one. You're welcome.
But back to the issue at hand, this was said quietly to Ted Kennedy back in 2008, and many think it, along with other similar comments by Clinton about Barack Obama helped push Kennedy away from pledging support for Hilary Clinton and into the Obama camp. It was widely received as an indication that Bill Clinton saw Obama as a man receiving press and support because of his race, rather than his leadership ability and the quality of his character.
8 Marion Barry - D.C. Crime Rate
"Outside of the killings, D.C. has one of the lowest crime rates in the country".
Trump has said plenty of downright stupid things during his campaign so far, but back in 1989, Marion Barry said something that was puzzling at best. For those who are not versed in District of Columbia politics and history, Barry was a mayor and council member from the 1970's to his death in 2014. He gained negative press and notoriety in the early 1990's for being thrown in jail on drug charges, but was elected mayor again after his release.
In 1989, USA Today published an article in which he said the quote for which he is listed here. He was discussing the homicide rate in D.C. at the time, and essentially dismissed a significant problem at the time, saying that apart from murders, the crime rate is pretty low. If we agree that murder is the worst crime someone can commit, this is not a point worth mentioning, because what's the point of a low "other than killing" crime rate if those enjoying it are afraid of being killed.
7 Todd Akin - "Legitimate R*pe"
Excuse me while I hit my head against a wall for a minute or two. Because our purpose for this article is Trump, we should mention him here. Many people have attacked The Donald's statements throughout his campaign so far because of factual inaccuracies about immigration numbers, crime numbers and so on. Sometimes, it just seems like he's throwing out numbers and loosely related sentences.
But back to Todd Akin. He was running for re-election in Missouri and when asked a question about abortion in response to sexual assault, he essentially stated that in the case of such a crime, the female body shuts down its own reproductive function. He also used the term "legitimate r*pe" which did not help his case. His statement referred to now-disproved medical studies and is nonsense. Basically, Akin was factually flawed and used a term that offended many women. It's doubtful that he meant for his statement to be taken with offense, but could have chosen his words better and fact-checked.
6 Al Sharpton - "Them Greek Homos"
“White folks was in the caves while we [blacks] was building empires … We built pyramids before Donald Trump ever knew what architecture was … we taught philosophy and astrology and mathematics before Socrates and them Greek homos ever got around to it.”
When we think of America's most notorious bigots, Al Sharpton is often left off the list despite hilarious mini-tirades like this. Sharpton may have good intentions in terms of strengthening the African-American community, but looking at some of the stuff that sometimes comes out of his mouth, he's essentially Donald Trump without business sense. Despite any community building to which he may contribute, he divides more people than he brings together. In this delightful quote, we see his rare ability to take a swing at ol' whitey and Greek history in one fell swoop.
For those shouting about whether or not he is a politician, he's run for office a handful of times and lost each.
5 Richard Nixon - Abortion
"There are times when an abortion is necessary. I know that. When you have a black and a white, or a r*pe."
Right now there is a generation of kids who have learned everything they know about Richard Nixon from the television show Futurama. This is alright, because the show actually has portrayed their Nixon character well, combining facts and true-to-life references in with a great parody of his personality.
Anyone can tell you, Nixon was far from a straight shooter. Between his secretive but necessary bombing campaigns and incursion into Cambodia (*cough* Obama, drones and Pakistan, *cough*) and the Watergate scandal, Nixon did what he wanted, regardless of "procedure". He also said things that got him in hot water. This face-palm worthy sentence was discovered about six years ago after someone reviewed tapes from discussions he had back in the early 1970's. Nixon said, shortly after the verdict of Roe v Wade, that interracial pregnancies were a legitimate cause for an abortion.
4 Pat Robertson - Feminism
"The feminist agenda is not about equal rights for women. It is about a socialist, anti-family political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians."
I could run with this quote and totally mock modern, popular feminism but that's just too easy these days. This quote is from a fundraising letter that was sent throughout Iowa. For anyone who still isn't sure, most feminists, whether male or female, do just want equal rights for women. Whether or not that has already been achieved, is another story. There are some feminists who believe in the kind of stuff Pat Robertson was worried about but they are a vast minority and usually stick to the West Coast.
3 Rodmond Roblin - "Nice Women"
"Nice women don't want the vote".
Up to the desolate wastelands of Canada we go for number three. This one goes all the way back to the early 1900's when women in Canada were fighting for voting rights. Between 1916 and 1940 women were gradually given the right to vote in Canada, on a province to province basis. It all went downhill from there. Joking, calm down.
One of the opponents to this initiative in Manitoba (Canadian province that is mostly snow) was Rodmond Roblin, the Premier of the province in the early 1900's. His famous quote was dropped on Nellie McClung, one of the leaders of the Canadian women's suffrage movement at the time. The last time I remember anyone in the United States talking about taking the vote away from women, it was Ann Coulter, who has said things like that for years.
2 Stokely Carmichael - "Prone"
"The position of women in SNCC is prone".
One of the most outspoken and influential leaders of the Black empowerment movement in the 1960's, Stokely Carmichael was a gifted leader and speaker, but was widely accused of mocking women. He was the leader of SNCC, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, and when asked about the position of women in the movement he said "the proper position of women in SNCC is prone". Prone is of course, a way of saying "lying down". It has been argued that he meant this statement as an ironic joke, but this excuse has not been widely accepted.
1 Benjamin Ryan Tillman Jr. - "Reconstruction"
“We have done our level best [to prevent blacks from voting]...we have scratched our heads to find out how we could eliminate the last one of them. We stuffed ballot boxes. We shot them. We are not ashamed of it.”
The Senator for South Carolina from 1895 until his death in 1918, Ben Tillman Jr. was and remains one of the most notorious racists in U.S. history. He is credited with having disenfranchised the vast majority of black people in that state and remains a contentious figure to this day. A statue of Tillman still stands outside the state building in Columbia, South Carolina. In recent years it has been vandalized and many have called for it to be torn down, especially in the wake of the racially motivated church shooting in Charleston that took place in 2015.
Okay, now reading through all of these, forgive us, Trump doesn't look any better, he just has some more company in the club of ignorant, politically-inclined people. It goes to show you that no matter their allegiance, there are and always have been some troublingly ignorant people in politics.