Oh, what a wild and crazy political year we’ve had.
I know, I know. You’ve tried to put it all behind you. But historians will be mining this vein of gold for many moons.
Who would have imagined that the political end of 2012 would be dominated by a stalemate between Barack Obama and John Boehner over taxing the richest Americans while everybody else watches in stupefaction as the threat of their taxes rising – and another recession – gets closer?
This was the year when almost half of American voters wanted as president a wealthy man who boasted that his wife drives a couple of Cadillacs, told unemployed people that he, too, was unemployed, criticized the president for going to Harvard when he himself has two Harvard degrees, who said he’d been a hunter all his life of rodents and rabbits, who publicly pondered why airplanes at 30,000 feet don’t have windows that open in case of fire and boasted that he likes to be able to fire people who provide services to him.
This was such an uncertain year economically that a popular bumper sticker in 2012 read: “This year I listed the federal government as a dependent on my taxes.” And then there was this one: “Politicians, like diapers, should be changed often and for the same reason.”
This was the year when the Republican Party gave thousands of dollars in campaign donations to Todd Akin, after the Missouri candidate for the U.S. Senate talked about “legitimate rape” and said that women who are raped can’t get pregnant because the female body has ways of shutting that process down.
This year, Obama scared his party half to death because he didn’t take the first debate with Mitt Romney seriously and seemed to have taken an overdose of Valium.
This was the year when scientists confirmed the existence of the Higgs boson and a rover named Curiosity landed on Mars while politicians vowed to cut spending on education and research and development as a way to deal with the deficit.
This was the year when a popular campaign pledge was to vote against paying the country’s legitimate debts.
This was the year when several candidates for president of the United States said they weren’t sure Obama was born in America. (He was born in Hawaii, one of the 50 states.)
This year, almost half of American voters wanted as vice president a man who said he couldn’t explain his running mate’s tax plan because it would take too long to go through all the math, who said he couldn’t say how Romney’s budget would solve the deficit because “we haven’t run the numbers,” who boasted that reading Ayn Rand taught him a lot about who he is and what his beliefs and values are, who defended his foreign policy experience by saying he “voted to send people to war” in Iraq, and who boasted that his best marathon time was under three hours when he ran only one marathon and it took him just over four hours.
This year, voters elected a record 20 women to the Senate. That is 20 percent, which puts the United States behind at least 69 other countries in the number of females in their legislatures, according to the Inter-Parliamentary Union.
In 2012, the last man standing in the GOP primaries except for Mitt Romney was Rick Santorum, who once compared homosexuality to bestiality, campaigned tirelessly against women’s rights and fought successfully to prevent the Senate from ratifying an international treaty that would adopt the U.S. law helping disabled people – even though former Republican Sen. Bob Dole, a disabled World War II veteran, was taken by wheelchair into the Senate chamber to plead for its passage.
This was the year that Hillary Clinton, once vilified by the “vast right-wing conspiracy,” won such universal praise for being secretary of state that they all agreed she would run for president in 2016. Then they decided she got sick from the flu and had a concussion to avoid testifying about what happened in Benghazi.
Rats. I’m out of space and I didn’t even get to Rick Perry, who said he might run again for president now that he has remembered what government agencies he wants to abolish.
Scripps Howard columnist Ann McFeatters has covered the White House and national politics since 1986. Email [email protected]