A year of oops: five big political gaffes of 2011

There’s nothing like a presidential campaign cycle to bring out big political gaffes. 2011 had some doozies, and some of the most memorable actually weren’t on the campaign trail.

3. How Joe Biden sums up the tea party

Yuri Gripas/Reuters
Vice President Joe Biden speaks during a Cabinet meeting in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington December 13. Biden was quoted as characterizing tea party voters as “terrorists."

Vice President Joe Biden denied it to the nth degree, but Politico said it had five sources to confirm its story – that during an offline discussion with House Democrats on Aug. 1, the loquacious Mr. Biden not only agreed with a characterization of tea party voters as “terrorists,” but actually chimed in, saying, “They have acted like terrorists.”

Mr. Biden’s mouth has drawn flak plenty of times, including later this year when he argued that, unless Congress passed President Obama’s American Jobs Act, “Murder will continue to rise, rape will continue to rise, all crime will continue rise.” Actual FBI crime numbers show violent crimes and most property crimes on a steady year-over-year decline.

But the terrorist comment – which came amid a debt-limit showdown that was driven by tea party-friendly congressional freshmen – didn’t have that “Aw, shucks, that’s just Joe” feel of past gaffes. This one had more bite.

Then again, Biden was riding a roller coaster of colorful rhetoric from Democrats at the time. Comments included Rep. Emanuel Cleaver’s “Satan sandwich” quip about the debt deal, and Rep. Luis Gutierrez accused Republicans and tea partyers of “slash and burn lunacy” before declaring, “The arsonists must be stopped.”

3 of 5
of stories this month > Get unlimited stories
You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Unlimited digital access $11/month.

Get unlimited Monitor journalism.