Tales from the Trail

O’Donnell’s ‘witch’ captures spirit of times

RTXU581_Comp-150x150Tea Party darling Christine O’Donnell may have lost the Delaware Senate race. But she heads the list when it comes to expressing the spirit of the times.

“I’m not a witch,” her famous TV ad declaration that preceded the demise of her Republican Senate campaign, tops Yale University’s annual list of most notable quotes for 2010.

O’Donnell doesn’t have the No. 1 slot to herself, however. She’s tied with former BP CEO Tony Hayward’s lament to reporters: “I’d like my life back.” That was when his company’s off-shore rig was spewing oil into the Gulf of Mexico, endangering life and livelihoods along the U.S. coast.

 BP-RUSSIA/Yale librarian Fred Shapiro, who compiled the list, said he looked for quotes that are “famous or important or particularly revealing of the spirit of our times.”

“It was not pleasant dealing with this material,” Shapiro himself was quoted as saying by the New Haven Register, Yale’s hometown daily. He explained that the most notable remarks are “generally polarizing, fairly harsh. Some would say they are extreme.”
    
O’Donnell’s ‘witch’ quote came to symbolize a phenomenon of the 2010 campaign: Tea Party candidates who proved ill-equipped to thrive in the burning spotlight of national politics.
    
O’Donnell actually made the Yale list twice. The second entry is her rhetorical question about the constitutional separation of church and state, uttered during an Oct. 19 debate: “You’re telling me that the separation of church and state is found in the First Amendment?” RTR2ESWT_Comp-150x150
    
Others on the Yale list of notable quotes include:
    
* Republican and Tea Party rock star Sarah Palin, who tweeted to supporters on March 23: “Don’t retreat. Instead — reload!”
    
* Tea Party favorite Sharron Angle, Nevada’s losing Republican Senate nominee, who said in January: “I hope that’s not where we’re going, but you know, if this Congress keeps going the way it is, people are really looking toward those Second Amendment remedies. They’re saying: My goodness, what can we do to turn this country around?”
    
RTXU54W_Comp-150x150* House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who said on March 9: “We have to pass the (healthcare) bill so you can find out what is in it.”

Is time off allowed during a mammoth oil spill crisis? Depends…

BP CEO Tony Hayward takes time off to watch his yacht race in British waters, President Barack Obama goes golfing over the Father’s Day weekend. OIL-SPILL/

Is that acceptable when the BP oil spill, the worst in U.S. history and a huge environmental disaster, is entering a third month in the Gulf of Mexico?

Well, depends on who you talk to.

The White House on Monday made a cutting remark about Hayward’s yacht trip: “Look, if Tony Hayward wants to put a skimmer on that yacht and bring it down to the Gulf, we’d be happy to have his help,” White House spokesman Bill Burton said at the daily media briefing. 

Washington spinmeisters start BP’s damage control

OIL-RIG/LEAKThe new public relations gurus hired by BP couldn’t have started at a better time. The team, headed by Anne Womack-Kolton — a former spokeswoman for Vice President Dick Cheney and the White House — had just started work when they had to deal with an unfortunate statement by BP chief executive Tony Hayward.

On Sunday Hayward infuriated many of those struggling to deal with the impact the massive oil spill has had on their lives and livelihood when he said he wanted his “life back” and wanted the oil spill mess to be over. So today his office issued the following email:

I made a hurtful and thoughtless comment on Sunday when I said that ‘I wanted my life back.’ When I read that recently, I was appalled. I apologize, especially to the families of the 11 men who lost their lives in this tragic accident. Those words don’t represent how I feel about this tragedy, and certainly don’t represent the hearts of the people of BP – many of whom live and work in the Gulf – who are doing everything they can to make things right. My first priority is doing all we can to restore the lives of the people of the Gulf region and their families – to restore their lives, not mine.