By the January 1, 2012, we’d left most of the best laugh-out-loud moments of the 2012 campaign behind us. Rick Perry (R-TX) had already named “Oops!” as the third cabinet-level department he’d eliminate; Herman Cain already fell into a trance when asked about Libya; Michele Bachmann (R-MN) already told the Today show that she met a woman who’d sobbingly confessed that the HPV vaccine had caused her daughter to suffer from “mental retardation.”
When it comes to slapstick self-parody, it doesn’t get better than that.
But this year – despite tragedy, turmoil and poll unskewing — did offer its own share of hilarity. Though it was more subtle and telling.
Because we all need a laugh right now, here, in reverse order, are the moments that made us LOL hardest and longest in 2012.
5. Clint Eastwood v. Furniture
In a way, the speech by the great actor/director Clint Eastwood at the 2012 Republican National Convention was beautiful. It was unscripted and unexpected. The actor critiqued the president — who appeared onstage as an empty chair — for issues no one else at the convention would touch… such as extending the war in Afghanistan and not closing Guantanamo Bay, and in the most watched and talked-about moment of a convention that was based on an inside joke, “You DID build that!” (a ha-ha that only Romney donors seemed to get — not realizing the joke was on them). Eastwood’s rambling pushed Marco Rubio (R-FL) and a very humanizing video about Romney out of prime time and left millions with the feeling that a campaign that was all about how business knows better didn’t seem to know better. Worst of all, Eastwood’s intention of creating a caricature of President Obama that repulsed voters ended up creating a parody of a Romney voter that no one wanted to be.
This is a perfect representation of the campaign: an old white man arguing with an imaginary Barack Obama.
— Jamelle Bouie (@jbouie) August 31, 2012
4. Rick Santorum Says JFK’s Speech Made Him Want To Throw Up
History will probably not note how close Rick Santorum came to defeating Mitt Romney, who outspent the former senator at least 100 to 1. Coming into the Michigan primary, the two candidates were neck and neck, but if there was one moment that cost Santorum any hope of the nomination it was when he said that reading John F. Kennedy’s speech on the separation of church and state made him want to “throw up.” Like Kennedy, Santorum is a Catholic. This comment ended up costing him the Catholic vote in Michigan and possibly the state.
Can’t wait to see Santorum throw up at Reagan’s advocacy of separation of church and state. shar.es/ghdxk
— Susan Gardner (@SusanGDailyKos) February 26, 2012
3. TIE: Please Proceed, Governor/Horses and Bayonets
Anyone who saw President Obama roast Donald Trump or is familiar with his writing knows the man is slyly self-deprecating and capable of being genuinely funny. After his dismal first debate appearance, the president nailed Romney several times in the second and third debates.
Following the principle that you never bail out your opponent when he’s about to drown himself, the president ushered Romney into a real-time fact-check with three words: “Please proceed, Governor.”
In the third debate, the president finally took on one of the big lies Mitt Romney had been repeating for months — that the Navy was smaller than at any time since after World War I. Not only did he clown Romney, but this quip had the added bonus of making Republicans all over the nation defend bayonets for a few days — just to prove they can’t take a joke.
2. Mitt Romney’s Lady Binders
After Mitt Romney’s stunningly adept first debate performance where he took on Big Bird and defended regulation, he was ready to close the deal with the group of voters he’d impressed most in the first debate — women. So when he received a chance to talk about equal pay — an issue he’d been dodging for weeks — he thought it was the perfect time to mention one of his great accomplishments as governor: He’d ordered “binders full of women” to be brought to him by women’s groups so he could find qualified females for his cabinet. At the time, I called it “the most offensive answer in the history of American presidential debates,” and I stand by that assessment now, except I also think it’s hilarious.
First of all, the statement was false. The binders were offered to him, not requested by him. Secondly, he didn’t know enough qualified women (or women who did) to amply staff his adminstration? Thirdly, the question was about equal pay! Romney went on to say that he championed women in the workplace by offering them flexible time, so they could get home in time to cook dinner. This was a man who’d missed 50 years of gender politics and kindly revealed as much in four words. Soon thereafter, the gender gap that had closed so precipitously after the first debate grew wider and wider.
Karl Rove Gets Fact-Checked By Fox News
Karl Rove spent four years and more than $300 million of other people’s money trying to defeat President Obama. On election night 2012, we got to see that all crumble right before his eyes, and it was beautiful to watch. The channel that had presented Mitt Romney’s de facto campaign manager as an “analyst” for years called Ohio and thus the election for Obama. Rove freaked. He was so certain that Romney would end up winning the Buckeye State that he demanded they rescind their call. This certainty has sparked rumors that Rove had the fix in and was thwarted by the hacktivist group Anonymous. But what we were likely seeing was a man so self-deluded that his last desperate spin to save Romney wasn’t even credible enough for Fox News.
Karl Rove has become the Gene Hackman Lex Luthor. The main villain the first time around, but reduced to comic relief by the sequels.
— Eric Alt (@Eric_Alt) November 7, 2012