Below, in chronological order, are my picks for the top quotations of 2009 — the quotes that seemed to get the most attention during the past year in the news and elsewhere.
There were more than would fit into a top 10 list. So, I’ll call them The Top 10 Quotes of 2009 – Plus a Few.
“I hope he fails.”
Conservative talk show host
Comment about newly-elected President Barack Obama, on his radio show, January 16, 2009.
“I do believe that marriage should be between a man and a woman, no offense to anybody out there. But that’s how I was raised and I believe that it should be between a man and a woman.”
Miss USA beauty pageant contestant and winner (later fired)
Answer when asked by pageant judge Perez Hilton whether she believed in gay marriage, during the Miss USA contest, April 19, 2009.
“My hope is, is that as a consequence of this event, this ends up being what’s called ‘a teachable moment.’”
President Barack Obama
Comment to the press on July 24, 2009 about the uproar over his remark two days earlier that “The Cambridge police acted stupidly” when they arrested Harvard scholar Henry Louis Gates, Jr. President Obama’s use helped popularize the already existing term “teachable moment.”
“Obama...has a deep-seated hatred for white people...This guy is, I believe, a racist.”
Conservative talk show host
Commenting on President Obama’s comments about the arrest of Henry Louis Gates, in a discussion on the FOX News Network, July 28, 2009.
“The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down Syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama’s ‘death panel.’”
Former Alaska Governor
Post on her Facebook site on August 7, 2009, which first brought attention to the term “death panels.” She then gave it even more exposure in an op-ed she wrote that was published in the Wall Street Journal on September 8, 2008.
“We should not have a government program that determines if you're going to pull the plug on grandma.”
Republican Senator Chuck Grassley
Adding a new catchphrase to the rhetoric used to attack the Democrats’ health care plan, at a town meeting in his home state of Iowa on August 12, 2009. Four days later, President Obama publicly scoffed at claims that he or the Democrats wanted to “pull the plug on grandma” or create “death panels.”
Republican Congressman Joe Wilson
The instantly infamous words yelled by the South Carolina Congressman as President Barack Obama was addressing Congress on the health care plan, on September 9, 2009.
“I’m really happy for you, I’mma let you finish, but Beyonce had one of the best videos of all time.”
Musician Kanye West
His rude rant after grabbing the microphone from award winner Taylor Swift at the MTV Video Music Awards on September 13, 2009 (creating the much-parodied meme “I’mma let you finish”).
“I know it wasn’t ‘rape’ rape. I think it was something else, but I don’t believe it was ‘rape’ rape.”
Actress Whoopi Goldberg
Defending director Roman Polanski on ABC-TV’s show The View, on September 28, 2009, by attempting to portray his admitted rape of a thirteen year old girl in 1977 as, er, something else.
“If you get sick, America, the Republican health care plan is this: Die quickly.”
Democratic Congressman Alan Mark Grayson
Remark by the Florida Congressman on the floor of the House on September 29, 2009, making “die quickly” the controversial Democratic counterpoint to “death panels,” “pull the plug on grandma” and “You lie!”
“Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels.”
British “Supermodel” Kate Moss
Her answer when asked if she had a motto, in an interview published by the “fashion Bible” Women’s Wear Daily on November 13, 2009, prompting righteous outrage from anti-anorexia groups.
“We have a social purpose...[I’m] doing God’s work.”
Chairman and CEO of the investment firm Goldman Sachs
Defending himself and the financial industry, despite their role in creating the current financial crisis, in an interview published by The Sunday Times on November 8, 2009.
“The system worked.”
Secretary of Homeland Security
Her comment in a CNN interview on December 27, 2009 about the Nigerian terrorist who managed to board a plane with explosives, but failed in his attempt to blow up a planeload of Americans on Christmas Day. Napolitano’s absurd assessment was quickly repudiated by President Barack Obama.