Dave Kenny picks the top 10 political gaffes of all time


10 things politicians definitely wish they had not said ...

To mark the end of the elections, Dave Kenny picks the top 10 political gaffes of all time

THE dust has finally settled on Elections 2014 and to mark the occassion here are 10 political gaffes you may have forgotten.

1. US vice president, Dan Quayle constatntly mnagled wrods [sic] but he surpassed himself in 1995 when he appeared to blame America for murdering millions of Jews.

“The Holocaust was an obscene period in our nation’s history. No, not our nation’s, but in World War II. I mean, we all lived in this century. I didn’t live in this century, but in this century’s history.”

2. Sarah Palin’s political utterances were comedy gold. However, her mouth wasn’t to blame when she ‘gaffed’ at a turkey pardoning photo-op in Alaska in 2008. Palin blathered on for the cameras while turkeys were being slaughtered in the background. It was horrendous.

The woman who could “see Russia from her back yard” couldn’t see what was happening six feet behind her.

3. In 2006, Mary O’Rourke was savaged for referring to her campaign helpers as working “like blacks”. It was a stupid choice of words, but does anyone really think Mammy is racist? The phrase refers to the exploitation of African slaves and was widely used here up until a number of years ago. Asked for a reaction, one of her helpers said “It’s a black day for her campaign”. Ok, I made that last bit up.

4. God, I miss Conor Lenihan. In 2005, he shocked the Dáil when he managed to insult all of Turkey. “Stick to the kebabs,” he sneered at Joe Higgins, who was defending the rights of Turkish GAMA workers.

His greatest blunder concerned God. In September 2010, it emerged that he was to attend the launch of ‘The Origin of Specious Nonsense’. The book claims that Darwin’s theory of evolution is a “scientific hoax”. Fair enough, you may say, except for one thing: Lenihan was Minister for Science at the time.

5. In 1995, Fine Gael were in bed with Democratic Left and Labour and the three were constantly vying for the duvet.

At 12.15 on Budget Day a fax was sent to two evening newspapers, bearing Phil’s name and outlining all the main provisions of Ruairi Quinn’s budget speech. The problem was that Labour’s Quinn hadn’t delivered his speech, which was due to take place at 4pm.

6. Condoleezza Rice wasn’t renowned for making gaffes, but she gave an extraordinary insight into her relationship with George W at a dinner party. Rice, who is single, was overheard saying, “As I was telling my husb-” before stopping herself. She continued: “As I was telling president Bush.”

7. In 2002, Enda Kenny almost derailed his political career with an anecdote at a Fine Gael function. It concerned a holiday in Portugal and a Moroccan barman “with shiny teeth”. The latter had been asked why a cocktail was called a ‘Lumumba’ and replied: “It’s named after some nigger who died dans la guerre”. Congo’s president patrice Lumumba was one of Africa’s greatest heroes.

Enda apologised, but any hopes that the Lumumba family wouldn’t hear of his comments were shortlived. By a remarkable coincidence, it turned out that one of Lumumba’s sons, and seven of his grandchildren, were living in Tallaght at the time. Enda issued another grovelling apology.

8. In July 2005, French journalists overheard president Jacques Chirac poking fun at British food with German chancellor, Gerhard Schroeder and Vladimir Putin.

“Ze only thing ze British have ever done for European agriculture is mad cow disease,” he joked. “You can’t trust people who cook as badly as zat. After Finland, it’s ze country with ze worst food.” That’s good news for us, so.

9. Saddam Hussein chose Whitney Houston’s ‘I Will Always Love You’ as the theme song for for his 2002 ‘election’. If that sounds inappropriate, then spare a thought for Hillary Clinton.

In 2000, she used Billy Joel’s ‘Captain Jack’ during her campaign. Her opponents merrily observed that the song is about “getting high” and … masturbating.

10. Remember Gary Hart? No, nobody else does either. Gary was the cool, young Democratic presidential hopeful in 1988. Then the New York Times ran a story alleging he was having an affair. Hart responded: “Follow me around. I don’t care. I’m serious. If anybody wants to put a tail on me, go ahead. They’ll be very bored.” Two reporters from did just that. They ended up introducing the world to Hart’s mistress, Donna Rice.

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