It was a doozy of a political year, making it hard to narrow the gaffes down to 10. But here they are: The Top 10 Political Gaffes of 2010.
(1) Pelosi on Obamacare: When House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said of Obamacare: “We have to pass it, to know what’s in it,” it was a gift to Republicans, many of whom used it against their Democratic opponents in their midterm-election campaigns. The remark reminded voters both of the arrogance of the Democratic leaders for ramming the unpopular health-care plan into law as well as the negative consequences still to come as Obamacare is implemented.
(2) Recovery Summer: It couldn’t be a true gaffe list without having Joe Biden near the top. The vice president touted the “Recovery Summer,” predicting months of robust job creation as a result of the administration’s economic policies. However, there was no significant number of new jobs, and by year end the unemployment rate was higher, not lower. Biden’s rosy scenario was easily mocked and gave Republicans a big target on a major issue.
(3) Obama’s rhetoric: Obama hitting the campaign trail to help Democrats in the election was one big gaffe-a-thon. From his theorizing that opponents were hard-wired out of fear to his urging Hispanics to punish their enemies, the supposed master-orator gave no lift to his party. And his puzzling remarks on the Ground Zero mosque were the last thing Democrats running for office needed as the election neared.
(4) Chamber of Commerce bashing: The political strategist who came up with Chamber of Commerce bashing as the Democrat’s campaign centerpiece should be fired. The coordinated strategy was voiced repeatedly by President Obama and top Democratic leaders. But the issue of whether foreign money was used for political ads by the Chamber of Commerce was easily refuted and didn’t resonate with voters. Plus, it allowed Republicans to bring up the issue of massive campaign spending by the labor unions and the foreign money in their coffers.
(5) Aqua Buddha ad: Who could forget Democrat Jack Conway’s use of a 30-year-old practical joke as relayed by an anonymous source to attack the religious beliefs of his Kentucky Senate opponent Rand Paul? His ad claiming that Rand Paul worshipped the god Aqua Buddha was the silliest political act of the year.
(6) Etheridge assaults interviewer: When Rep. Bob Etheridge (D-N.C.) was confronted by two interviewers, he struck their camera and grabbed one by the wrist and neck. The video of the incident went viral and probably cost Etheridge his seat as the seven-term incumbent lost his re-election bid by 1,500 votes.
(7) Taliban Dan ad: Florida Rep. Alan Grayson’s loose-cannon reputation was reinforced when his campaign ad labeled his opponent “Taliban Dan.” The ad contained edited remarks made by Daniel Webster that made him sound like an extremist for advocating that wives should be subservient to their husbands. But it was clear that the ad took Webster’s remarks out of context, and Grayson, a favorite of progressives, lost his re-election bid with less than 40 percent of the vote.
(8) Debate text message: Democrat Alex Sink, during a break in the final debate in the Florida governor’s race against Rick Scott, accepted a cell phone from a staffer with a text message intended to give her an advantage. The incident broke the rules of the debate and Scott, a political novice and former health-care chief executive officer, won the election by a razor-thin margin.
(9) Paladino’s campaign: Republican Carl Paladino’s campaign for governor of New York against Andrew Cuomo contained one gaffe after another. First, there was the video of Palladino threatening to “take out” a reporter, then a series of racially and sexually offensive emails that he sent were released, followed by his extremely harsh attacks on gays. Palladino’s fitness to serve and not the issues became the story line of the campaign and he lost in a landslide.
(10) “I am not a witch” ad: GOP Delaware Senate candidate Christine O’Donnell desperately needed to show some gravitas, considering her thin resume. But her “I am not a witch” ad, meant to explain her remarks on Bill Maher’s “Politically Incorrect” in the ’90s, only reinforced an image of kookiness and her campaign never took off.