'You Have a Right to Be Stupid': The Top D.C. Soundbites of 2013
Right vs. right
Enter John Boehner at the end-of-the-year budget negotiations, when some conservative groups came out in opposition to the Ryan-Murray budget deal hours before it was unveiled. “They’re using our members and they’re using the American people for their own goals. This is ridiculous," Boehner said, followed by a lengthier challenge the next day: “I don’t care what they do. It’s just that there just comes a point when some people step over the line. You know, when you criticize something and you have no idea what you’re criticizing, it undermines your credibility.”
Not a year passes without more gems from the lips of our vice president. Though the competition is always stiff, the winner this year is Biden's odd reference to Deliverance at a benefit dinner for a volunteer legal group that helps domestic violence survivors. “After those guys tied that one guy to the tree and raped him, man-raped him in the film, why didn’t the guy go the sheriff?" he said. "They don’t want to get raped again by the system.”
Hill meltdown of the year
Lots of lawmakers take their turn on the floor for a good old-fashioned rant, but it was the monologue of one of the seen but rarely heard staffers in the chamber that caught Hill denizens off-guard. During a late-night House session Oct. 16 to end the shutdown, stenographer Dianne Reidy took the dais for a rant about Freemasons: “He will not be mocked, He will not be mocked — don’t touch me — He will not be mocked. The greatest deception here, is that this is not one nation under God. It never was. Had it been… it would not have been.… No. It would not have been. The Constitution would not have been written by Freemasons… and go against God. You cannot serve two masters. You cannot serve two masters. Praise be to God, Lord Jesus Christ.” Reidy was led away by security, sent for a psych evaluation and placed on administrative leave, and reportedly still works in the House these days but in a low-profile capacity.
The congressman who brought us the “sugar-coated Satan sandwich” in reference to a 2011 bipartisan debt compromise invoked Lucifer again this year, saying the devil's approval rating is better than Congress'. In October, Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.) was commenting on Congress' low approval numbers. “Now it’s already dropped down to 10 percent. And I think Satan is probably at 12 percent. So we are in real bad shape here."
Most insensitive shutdown quote
When some lawmakers tried to restore funding program-by-program during the government shutdown, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) refused to allow the piecemeal votes. One of these dealt with funding trials for kids with cancer. CNN's Dana Bash asked Reid at a press conference, "If you can help one child who has cancer, why wouldn’t you do it?”
“Why would we want to do that? I have 1,100 people at Nellis Air Force Base that are sitting home. They have a few problems of their own. This is — to have someone of your intelligence suggest such a thing may be irresponsible,” Reid told her.
Reid later tried to explain his comment: "I am not known for being real articulate, but what I was trying to say is that we can’t be piecemealing all this stuff."
Biggest verbal grenades
Baby, it's violent imagery out here. Senior Obama adviser Dan Pfeiffer on Obamacare defund and shutdown threats at the end of September: “What we’re not for is negotiating with people with a bomb strapped to their chest." Harry Reid: "We will not bow to Tea Party anarchists who deny the mere fact that Obamacare is the law." Former Clinton chief of staff and new Obama adviser John Podesta in an interview with Politico this fall called the GOP "a cult worthy of Jonestown in charge of one of the houses of Congress."
Greatest Iran nuclear deal reality check
Everyone eager to cut a deal with Iran in 2013 hailed its new president, Hassan Rouhani, as a 180-degree turnaround from the Mahmoud Ahmadinejad era, but his September interview with NBC said loud and clear that it's the same old regime in Tehran. Asked about Ahmadinejad's Holocaust denial, Rouhani said, “I’m not a historian. I’m a politician.”