The 2010s are coming to a close, and while we can still look forward to politicians embarrassing themselves in 2020 and beyond, let’s take a look back at the most legendary did-that-just-happen moments of the past decade.
Islands. What Are They And How Do They Work? – 2010
Democratic Georgia Rep. Hank Johnson kicked off the 2010s with a gaffe that might just be the greatest of the century, if not all-time.
During a Congressional hearing over troop placements in the Pacific island of Guam, Johnson speculated to a military representative that if too many soldiers were stationed there the island would tip over. Really. (RELATED: Here Are Some Of Biden’s Greatest 2020 Campaign Gaffes)
“My fear is that the whole island will become so overly populated that it will tip over and capsize,” he said.
Admiral Robert Williams, who received the question, appears to be suppressing a smirk as he says, “Uh, we don’t anticipate that.”
If You Like Your Doctor, You Can Keep Your Doctor – 2013
President Barack Obama repeated this mantra nearly 40 times both before and after the passage of his Affordable Care Act, and Politifact ultimately rated it the biggest political lie of 2013.
“If you like your plan, you can keep your plan. If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor,” Obama said. “Because I can tell you that as the father of two young girls, I wouldn’t want any plan that interferes with the relationship between a family and their doctor.”
In reality, 4 million Americans were forced to change their healthcare plans.
The Obama administration tried to justify its statements by pointing to its “grandfather” program for insurance plans, according to Politifact. The ACA allowed insurance companies to maintain their current plans so long as they were adjusted to meet certain rules, but those rules were cumbersome, so instead of making the necessary adjustments, insurance companies simply cancelled plans that didn’t already follow the rules.
Elizabeth Warren Visits Ancestry.com – 2018
Democratic Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren thought she had a slam dunk against President Donald Trump when she decided to take a DNA test to verify her native American ancestry.
The problem is, when she got the results saying she was 1/1024th Native American, she decided to publish the results and insist on her ancestry anyways.
She ultimately had to apologize to the Cherokee Nation for claiming membership, and she continues to be ridiculed for claiming Native American ancestry in her professional life.
“My family is very important to me, and that’s why many years ago I sometimes identified as Native American,” she said at a December 7 campaign rally. “I am not a person of color, I am not a citizen of a tribe, and I have apologized for confusion I’ve caused on tribal citizenship, tribal sovereignty, and for any harm that I’ve caused.”
Please Clap – 2016
Republican 2016 Presidential Candidate Jeb Bush is one of the few politicians of the 2010s to commit a gaffe so cringe-worthy it spawns a lasting meme.
Bush was at a campaign rally in New Hampshire in February 2016 when what was supposed to be an applause line failed spectacularly. (RELATED: Trump Says His Gaffes Are Intentional)
“I think the next president should be a lot quieter, but send a signal that we’re prepared to act in the national security interests of this country to get back in the business of creating a more peaceful world… Please clap,” Bush whimpered.
The gaffe went a long way to justify then-candidate Trump’s nickname for Bush, “Low Energy Jeb.”
What Is Aleppo? – 2016
Libertarian candidates have always struggled to be taken seriously in American presidential elections, but Gary Johnson didn’t do himself any favors.
During and appearance on MSNBC’s Morning Joe in 2016, Johnson was asked what policies he would have to fix Aleppo, a city in Syria that was then being ravaged by civil war. (RELATED: Biden: ‘When You Tell The Truth In Washington, It’s A Gaffe)
It was immediately clear that Johnson was lost, managing to leak out: “Aleppo? What is Aleppo?”
He later tried to explain himself by saying he was familiar with the Middle East, but had thought the panelist was referencing some kind of acronym.
“Yes, I understand the dynamics of the Syrian conflict — I talk about them every day,” said Johnson in a statement just hours after the show. “But hit with ‘What about Aleppo?’, I immediately was thinking about an acronym, not the Syrian conflict.”