We’re entering a presidential election year in 2016, and the lead up during 2015 was pretty crazy. In fact, can anyone remember a year with more political zaniness than this last one? Many of the candidates vying to occupy the Oval Office proposed some pretty crazy ideas—from building a giant wall along the U.S.–Mexico border to ensuring that every American is armed, to doing away with university and college tuition. There were also a good deal of political scandals throughout 2015, and some tense moments among world leaders. Whatever your personal political persuasion, we are sure you will enjoy these 10 weirdest moments in politics from the past year.
10. A Drone Lands on the White House Lawn
Secret Service and staff at the White House were left red faced in January of this year when an airborne drone piloted by an off-duty government worker landed on the White House lawn—causing a ruckus and sending the security detail scrambling to determine the threat posed by the drone and neutralize it. Luckily the drone posed no real threat, and President Barack Obama was away on an official visit to India at the time. Nevertheless, the incident raised new questions about both the use of drones and the ability of law enforcement to protect the Leader of the Free World. Interestingly, the operator of the drone worked for the U.S. National Geospatial Intelligence Agency, a government entity that is tasked with mapping and security duties. The agency issued a press release after the incident saying the drone flight was “not work related.” Good to know!
9. U.S. Ambassador to South Korea is Attacked By a Knife-Wielding Maniac
The U.S. has been a staunch ally of South Korea since the Korean War in the 1950s, and they’ve done a lot to help the nation in its ongoing dealings with North Korea. The U.S. has been pretty good about not expecting much in return. Although the one thing the diplomatic core does not expect is for its Ambassador to the country to be attacked. Yet that’s exactly what happened this past March when U.S. Ambassador to South Korea Mark Lippert was attacked at a public speaking event in the country. Ambassador Lippert was rushed to hospital after his face and right hand were slashed with a 10 inch knife by assailant Kim Ki-Jong, who was apparently demanding that the U.S. military leave South Korea. Lippert survived the attack and Kim Ki-Jong was convicted of attempted murder and sentenced to 12 years hard labor.
8. Political Leaders Get Up Close and Personal
Several awkward moments by the leaders in Washington, D.C., went viral online this past year. In January, House Speaker John Boehner awkwardly kissed House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi after he was elected to a third term as speaker. This image quickly exploded on the internet. Then, in February, images of U.S. Vice-President Joe Biden whispering alluringly into the ear of Stephanie Carter as her husband, Ashton Carter, was sworn in as the new U.S. Secretary of Defense made waves in cyberspace. Oh, and then there were the images of former Alaska Governor and Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin addressing the Conservative Political Action Conference wearing a skin tight leather skirt that set the internet ablaze. The year 2015 seemed to definitely be the year of political viral sensations.
7. George W. Bush Attends the 50th Anniversary of the Selma March
The last time George W. Bush was involved in racial politics in America, it was after Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans and rapper Kanye West said on live TV that “George Bush doesn’t care about black people.” Yeah, not good. So it was a little more than awkward when the former President, who hails from Texas, attended the 50th anniversary march in Selma, Alabama. This marked the anniversary of the historic march led by Dr. Martin Luther King through Selma, Alabama, where the civil rights activists in attendance were brutally beaten when they crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge. It was great that U.S. President Barack Obama attended the march. But what was George W. Bush doing there? It didn’t make sense to a lot of people. Making things more awkward were photos of the event that seemed to show that nobody at the anniversary march wanted to stand next to George W. Bush.
6. Mitt Romney Boxes Evander Holyfield
Politicians are known for being pretty shameless, and more than one has sunk low for publicity and notoriety. But it seemed to be a new low of sorts when former U.S. Presidential candidate Mitt Romney got into the ring this past May to box former world heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield. Yes, the event took place in support of a charity. But that didn’t make it any more dignified. Both men looked horribly out of shape, and their bout could barely be described as boxing. What’s more, why boxing? The organization the two men raised money for was CharityVision, which is seeking a cure to blindness. What does that really have to do with boxing? Surely, there must have been a better way for Mitt Romney to support this charity? He didn’t have to treat us all to the sight of him with no shirt on getting thrown against the ropes by Evander Holyfield, did he?
5. New Jersey Governor Supports the Dallas Cowboys Football Team
One of the unwritten rules of politics is that you support the hometown team. After all, you’re an elected representative for a particular area of the country. That area is supporting you as a politician, so it is natural for you to support your constituents and their sports teams. Apparently New Jersey Governor Chris Christie never learned this rule. With both the New York Jets and New York Giants football teams playing at Metlife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey, Governor Christie threw his support squarely behind… that’s right, the Dallas Cowboys.
Apparently a lifelong Cowboys fan, Governor Christie was very excited in January 2015 when the Cowboys made it all the way to the Divisional round of the playoffs. He was spotted sitting next to Cowboys owner Jerry Jones at the Wild Card playoff game where the Cowboys beat the Detroit Lions, and he even went on TV and did interviews to support the Cowboys ahead of the Divisional round playoff game they lost to the Green Bay Packers. Governor Christie even invited reporters into his office in New Jersey to show off his Dallas Cowboys mementoes. To say this pissed off Jets and Giants fans may be the understatement of the year. But so enthusiastic was Chris Christie with the Cowboys’ playoff run this past year that he didn’t seem to notice. We’ll see if he notices the next time New Jersey voters go to the polls.
4. Just Call Me ‘Jeb’
George Bush Sr. and George W. Bush were both extremely unpopular presidents when they left office. George Bush Sr. only lasted one term. And George W. Bush suffered from the lowest approval ratings in U.S. history when he left office in 2008. So one would assume that the “Bush” name would not carry too much cache in political circles or with the American public. And that assumption was confirmed in 2015 when former Florida Governor Jeb Bush announced his candidacy for the Republican nomination for President. He is not running on the “Bush” namesake. No, his campaign is “Jeb for President.” And in all of his commercials, radio addresses and public engagements, he is telling people to “Just call me Jeb.” This is clearly a tactic to draw attention away from the bad memories voters still hold concerning Jeb’s father and brother. But it is tactic that does not seem to be working. He’s currently at 4% in the polls, and near last place among Republican presidential hopefuls.
3. Hillary Clinton’s E-mail Controversy
She’s the Democratic frontrunner for President, but former First Lady Hillary Clinton ended up in a scandal in March 2015 when it was disclosed that she used her family’s private e-mail server to send and receive official communications while United States Secretary of State, rather than using official State Department e-mail accounts maintained on government servers. The press, and some Members of Congress, contended that Hillary Clinton’s use of private messaging, and a private server, as well as the deletion of a whopping 32,000 of those e-mails violated State Department protocols and procedures, as well as federal laws governing recordkeeping. An FBI probe was initiated regarding how classified information was handled on the Clinton server. Yet, so far, the controversy has not seemed to hurt Hillary’s bid for the 2016 presidential nomination. Still, the scandal has given ammunition to Clinton’s opponents and critics.
2. Ben Carson Supports the Confederate Flag
Ben Carson is a well-educated former neurosurgeon who is a leader in the Republican presidential nomination race. Only Donald Trump has more support than Ben Carson as we head into 2016. Mr. Carson is also black. And that fact made his support this past year of the Confederate flag truly awkward and a bit mindboggling. Considered an overt symbol of racism and segregation, the Confederate flag was removed from the grounds of South Carolina’s State Capitol this past year following a racially motivated shooting at a black church in North Charleston. Yet, at a NASCAR event in September, Ben Carson said that people, notably NASCAR fans, should have the right to fly the Confederate flag on their private property. When asked about the shooting in South Carolina and the removal of the offensive flag from the State Capitol, Mr. Carson was dismissive, saying that people’s preoccupation with the Confederate flag was a “passing fancy.” Wow!
1. Donald Trump
What has been truly bizarre about Donald Trump this past year has not only been his offensive, racist and incendiary comments about everyone from women and Mexicans to Muslims and Starbucks coffee cups, but the fact that he is leading in the polls to become the Republican nomination for President. In a world where one single controversy is often enough to derail a political campaign and destroy a person’s political career, Donald Trump has made his reputation and built a head of steam in the race for the presidency by being as controversial as he possibly can be.
In 2015, he referred to Mexicans as “rapists and murderers,” commented on a female reporter’s menstrual cycle, threatened to ban Muslims from entering the U.S., and even took issue with the fact that Starbucks cups don’t say “Merry Christmas” on them. Yet despite saying whatever he feels like whenever he feels like it, Trump is leading in the polls, and by a wide margin. While serious news outlets have tried to dismiss Donald Trump’s candidacy for the White House as a stunt, he continues to be popular with Republican voters. This despite a policy platform that includes building a giant wall along the U.S.–Mexico border to keep out illegal immigrants, and passing legislation compelling Canada to give the U.S. its oil reserves. Not sure what Donald Trump’s success says about the state of the Republican Party or politics in general, but 2016 promises to be very interesting as we could, realistically, see a man who has hosted Wrestlemania sitting in the Oval Office. Stay tuned…