Anyone with a computer and a facebook account can tell you that 2012 was full of bad Internet memes dedicated to political controversy. The following briefly summarizes the 10 most popular political stories in 2012 identified by their level of familiarity. Perhaps you’d forgotten about Binders Full of Women, Clint Eastwood’s conversation with a chair, or the assault on Big Bird so here’s a reminder – with helpful links to re-experience all of your favorite moments!
10) President Obama’s Dream Act Executive Order
The Dream Act is a bipartisan proposal first introduced to the US Senate in 2001. It would create a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants that arrived in the US as children, but are otherwise citizens of “good moral character.” Congress has failed to pass the bill.
This summer, President Obama issued a directive that grants those who would otherwise be eligible for the Dream Act a reprieve from deportation and work-authorization papers. It does not grant citizenship or legal status. Obama has received some criticism for executive overreach for the purposes of scoring political points. Hispanics proved to be instrumental in the president’s eventual defeat of Mitt Romney.
9) Petraeus affair
Just days after President Obama’s successful re-election bid, CIA Director David Petraeus was forced to resign after the FBI discovered an ongoing affair with his biographer, West Point graduate Paula Broadwell.
In the days following the resignation, the story evolved to include a Tampa “socialite” named Jill Kelley, whose official title as State Department liaison to the US Central Command afforded her access to top military officials. It’s not exactly clear why Broadwell began sending Kelley threatening emails, but Kelley involved Frederick Humphries, a high-ranking official with the FBI, in an effort to deal with Broadwell.
A subsequent FBI investigation revealed a secret email account used by Petraeus and Broadwell to exchange romantic messages. Investigators also found a series of flirtatious emails shared between Kelley and Marine Corps Gen. John R. Allen. The scandal’s ever-widening list of involved characters prompted a popular Internet meme by the New Yorker: How to tell if you’re involved in the Petraeus scandal.
8) Old white dudes saying crazy things
Fox News is just one of many mediums used by privileged white people to hurl crazy ideas into the public consciousness. In 2012, they were out in force:
On the final evening of the Republican National Convention, the Romney Campaign afforded Clint Eastwood a primetime speaking spot in front of a national audience – he spent most of his time rambling incoherently to a chair.
He is no stranger to controversy and in what seems to be a bid to remain relevant, or else evidence of senility, Nugent proclaimed at an NRA conference that he would “either be dead or in jail” if Obama were re-elected. He added that we should “chop their heads off in November.” This guy is the spokesperson for an armed population? Sounds legit.
Hank Williams, Jr.
After comments he made in 2011 effectively ended his contract with ESPN for Monday Night Football, Williams doubled-down this year. At a concert in Texas, he launched a protracted, hate-filled tirade calling Obama a Muslim hater of cowboys, cowgirls, farmers, and fishermen – and lover of the gays. ‘Merica.
He was challenging a vulnerable incumbent in Senator Claire McCaskill (D – Missouri) until he stated that women who are “legitimately raped” have the ability to “shut that whole thing down” – as if women possess some hormone that expels rape babies. Republicans begged him to step down, but he refused and McCaskill was easily re-elected. Akin was one of many casualties of the so-called War on Women.
The NRA’s solution to ever-increasing gun violence in America is to arm more people. LaPierre suggested that every school be equipped with an armed guard – presumably paid for by taxpayers. He blamed violent video games, movies, music videos, environmental disasters, gun-free school zones, mental illness, Obama – basically everything except guns – for the Newtown tragedy. In his appearance on Meet the Press Sunday, he proclaimed, “If it’s crazy to call for armed officers in our schools to protect our children, then call me crazy!” Okay. Crazy.
They are quite frankly too numerous to recount here, but he’s certainly the most consistent purveyor of nonsense. The Daily Beast has compiled a handy list here.
7) War on Women
The country has been reeling from an economic collapse and suffers from high unemployment; our debt has surpassed $16 trillion and our budget deficit is more than $6 trillion. We have entitlement obligations that we can’t currently fulfill.
Obviously, liberal access to abortions and contraceptives are the problem.
In an effort to rein in deficits and spending, republicans at all levels of government moved to limit the availability of abortion and contraception through a variety of measures outlined by the ACLU. These measures include state-mandated, medically unnecessary ultrasounds; wait periods; and a tax for women seeking an abortion. Some states prohibit insurer-sponsored abortions.
In addition, Planned Parenthood has been attacked at both state and federal levels as lawmakers attempt to revoke funding to the low-cost family planning organization. Thus far, Planned Parenthood has received favor by courts looking at whether such laws are in violation of federal Medicaid rules requiring states to give patients the choice of who provides their care.
One provision of Obamacare that went into effect this year requires insurers to cover contraceptives at 100 percent. Catholics have requested a special exemption for those employed by their hospitals and other health care organizations that would allow them to deny employees their right to this preventative health care service. Obama has thus far failed to meet their specific demands; presumably because it’s unreasonable for your employer to decide what preventative health care services you need.
The most offensive cases of mansplaining this year both involved republican men attempting to articulate a woman’s right (or lack thereof) to an abortion if her pregnancy is the result of a rape. Neither believes a woman is entitled to an abortion in the case of rape. Todd Akin doesn’t believe women can get pregnant from rape – see Old white dudes saying crazy things (8) above for more detail. Richard Mourdock believes life begins at conception whether it occurs via rape or choice and takes a “sucks to be you” approach to a rape pregnancy whereby “God intended for it to happen.” Both responses were repeated relentlessly by opponents until they defeated the voices that first spoke them.
6) Same-sex marriage
Proponents of same-sex marriage have had a string of good years and 2012 was no different. After repealing DADT in 2011, Barack Obama became the first sitting president to endorse same-sex marriage. In addition, Washington and Maine became the first states to legalize same-sex marriage by popular vote.
Of course, no discussion about gay marriage in 2012 is complete without a shout-out to Chick-Fil-A, which turned fast food nuggets into little balls of chicken-fried hate when its CEO proudly acknowledged his company’s continued support of anti-gay groups. Opponents promised a boycott while supporters organized a Chick-Fil-A appreciation day to proudly display their support for bigotry and the unequal treatment of their fellow Americans. If it were about first amendment rights, then these same folks would be defending Piers Morgan’s right to speak out in favor of gun control on his program – not creating petitions to deport him for his views.