ByÂ Priyanjana Pramanik:
“Politics is almost as exciting as war, and quite as dangerous. In war you can only be killed once, but in politics many times.” Winston Churchill said that, and he is widely considered to have been right. In fact, this is the very reason I have a great deal of respect for politicians. No matter what else I may say about them, they definitely step up to the plate. They put themselves out there. For whatever reason that might be. But sometimes, politicians are quoted for entirely the wrong reasons, when they say something we will remember for a long time, and they’ll really wish we didn’t.
There was the time Barack Obama thought his country had 58 states, or the time Senator John McCain referred to Vladimir Putin as the President of Germany. But these are some of my personal favourites; the gaffes that might just stay with me for all time to come.
- Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, former President of Iran, has had his fair share of controversy. For example, he issues a number of public statements in which he claimed that The Holocaust as we know it is ‘a myth’ and ‘a lie’. However, he is possibly best known for something that he said on September 24, 2007, at Columbia University.
“…in Iran we don’t have homosexuals, like in your country. We don’t have that in our country. In Iran we do not have this phenomenon. I don’t know who told you that we have it.”
- Mitt Romney was the 70th Governor of the state of Massachusetts, serving from 2003 to 2007. He was also the Republican Party’s nominee for President of the United States in the 2012 election, which he lost to incumbent President Barack Obama. Much has been made of a certain incident involving Romney, which took place during a 1983 family vacation. Romney drove twelve hours with his dog Seamus strapped to the roof of his car. The President of the People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) publicly criticized Romney for his actions. Romney’s reply?
“PETA is not happy that my dog likes fresh air.”
- Charles de Gaulle was the 18th President of the French Republic, as well as the co-prince of Andorra. Two weeks before what would have been his 80th birthday, he collapsed suddenly, dying some time later from a ruptured blood vessel. The memorial service and funeral were held on November 12, 1970. Among the distinguished statesmen who came to pay their respects were U.S. President Richard Nixon, British Prime Minister Edward Heath, and Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. And on this day, Nixon said something no one would ever let him forget.
“This is a great day for France!”
- For a very long time, Rick Santorum has spoken out against gay marriage, and has said a great many things on the topic. Clearly, he feels very strongly about it. Among his many detractors are writer Dan Savage, who waged a very public online campaign to make the first Google search result for “Santorum” something that I really can’t tell you here (Google it and see). But that’s not the point. Speaking to The New York Times Magazine in May 2005, Santorum said something that caught my attention.
“[Gay marriage] threatens my marriage. It threatens all marriages. It threatens the traditional values of this country.”
One wonders what threat gay marriage could and would pose to Santorum’s own.
- Mamata Banerjee, Chief Minister of West Bengal, has said quite a few quotable things about rape. An article from CNN-IBN on October 15, 2012, wrote that Banerjee blamed the occurrence of rape on the fact that men and women now interact more freely than before.
“Earlier if men and women would hold hands, they would get caught by parents and reprimanded but now everything is so open. It’s like an open market with open options.”
She went on to say that a section of the media was glorifying rape.Â “Everyday rape incidents are being highlighted as if the entire state has become a land of the rapists. Rape is sought to be glorified by these people. This will not be tolerated by people. I would like to say that negative journalism only destroys and it is time to champion positive journalism.”
I would like to say that I agree with Mamata Banerjee on the importance of positive journalism. Just that.
- There is one particular quote that makes me smile every time I read it or hear it. Though, obviously this is clearly no laughing matter. In October 2012, Haryana Khap leader Jitender Chhataar asked youngsters to refrain from eating junk food like chowmein. Apparently, men experience hormonal imbalances when they eat such food, and are more likely to commit rape.
“Poverty and intoxication are the main reasons for rape as well as young people sitting together the wrong way. But also eating chowmein causes a hormonal imbalance which is a big reason for rapes.”
Definitely keeping that one in mind.
- No list of political gaffes is complete without at least one Bushism. I’m pretty sure this one’s a winner.
“Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we.” (August 5, 2004)