Welcome to the Media Research Center's annual awards issue, a compilation of the most outrageous and/or humorous news media quotes from 1993. To determine this year's winners, a panel of 39 members of the media and media observers each selected their choices for the first, second and third best quote from six to ten quotes in each category. A list of the 1993 judges appears on the back page. (This issue covers quotes from December 1992 through November 1993.) The first quote under each award heading is the winner, followed in order by the top runners-up.
"Greenpeace, the public interest organization, believes that the Iraqi death toll, civilian and military, before and after the war, may be as high as 198,000. Allied military dead are counted in the low hundreds. The disparity is huge and somewhat embarrassing. And that's commentary for this evening, Tom."See the Runners-Up for the Quote Of The Year
"As the icon of American womanhood, she is the medium through which the remaining anxieties over feminism are being played out....Perhaps in addition to the other items on her agenda, Hillary Rodham Clinton will define for women that magical spot where the important work of the world and love and children and an inner life all come together. Like Ginger Rogers, she will do everything her partner does, only backward and in high heels, and with what was missing in [Lee] Atwater -- a lot of heart."
"I saw a Hillary Clinton that I'd never seen before. She was funny, charming, sexy -- yes, gang, sexy. We are both Scorpios, which tells you a lot. She's informal -- called me `Larry' and told me to call her by her first name...Meanwhile, she's earned the respect of everyone (except the wackos) with her handling of the health care issue. Indeed, she has gotten everyone (except the wackos) to agree that we need health care for everyone. This is a very formidable idea, ladies and gentlemen."
"She's ecumenical but prefers Italian and Mexican. The President fixes her eggs with jalapeño peppers on the weekends. One Christmas she served black beans and chili as part of a buffet. She carries Tabasco sauce wherever she goes....Valentine's Day at the Red Sage restaurant. Even at a romantic outing, the President can be the date from hell, talking to everyone but the girl he brung....Finally alone, they have `painted soup' and the lamb baked in herbed bread. They exchange gifts and touch each other more in two hours than the Bushes did in four years."
"In the midst of redesigning America's health care system and replacing Madonna as our leading cult figure, the new First Lady has already begun working on her next project, far more metaphysical and uplifting... She is both impersonal and poignant, with much more depth, intellect and spirituality than we are used to in a politician...She has goals, but they appear to be so huge and far off -- grand and noble things twinkling in the distance-- that it's hard to see what she sees."
"You've been working hard already to introduce this plan to people, sell this plan to people. Are you having any fun with this or is it all just hard work? It looks to be very hard work." "I hear you talking, and as I have before on this subject, I don't know of anybody, friend or foe, who isn't impressed by your grasp of the details of this plan. I'm not surprised because you have been working on it so long and listened to so many people..."
"If we could be one-hundredth as great as you and Hillary Rodham Clinton have been in the White House, we'd take it right now and walk away winners...Thank you very much and tell Mrs. Clinton we respect her and we're pulling for her."
"Clinton's campaign, conducted with dignity, with earnest attention to issues and with an impressive display of self-possession under fire, served to rehabilitate and restore the legitimacy of American politics and thus, prospectively, of government itself. He vindicated (at least for a while) the honor of a system that has been sinking fast. A victory by George Bush would, among other things, have given a two-victory presidential validation (1988 and 1992) to hot-button, mad-dog politics -- campaigning on irrelevant or inflammatory issues (Willie Horton, the flag, the Pledge of Allegiance, Murphy Brown's out-of-wedlock nonexistent child) or dirty tricks and innuendo (searching passport files, implying that Clinton was tied up with the KGB as a student)."
"There's no doubting that the nation is about to be led by its first sensitive male chief executive. He's the first President to have attended both Lamaze classes and family therapy (as part of his brother's drug rehabilitation). He can speak in the rhythms and rhetoric of pop psychology and self-actualization. He can search for the inner self while seeking connectedness with the greater whole."
Without running the risk of being considered `touchy-feely,' Clinton is known as a hugger of men and women. Simple handshakes aren't enough for this man whose theme song easily could be borrowed from the cotton industry's `the touch, the feel, the fabric of our lives'....What one does with hands, lips, arms, trunks, and legs carries far more weight that a barrage of insults, eloquent speeches, or sweet poetry whispered in the ear. The problem is that many of us, unlike Clinton, have lost touch with touch."
"[Clinton] pointed out the Andrew Jackson magnolia tree. He's a very good historian. Harry, I think if you had been in the room, any viewer-listener who had been in that room, would have been impressed with the breadth of his knowledge. I mean he talked about the Oscars. He talked very knowingly about Clint Eastwood and his new movie Unforgiven, Jack Nicholson's role in A Few Good Men, and then switched very quickly to a knowledgeable analysis of Arkansas's chances against North Carolina in the big basketball game tomorrow night."
"In the plague years of the 1980s -- that low decade of denial, indifference, hostility, opportunism, and idiocy -- government fiddled, medicine diddled, and the media were silent or hysterical. A gerontocratic Ronald Reagan took this [AIDS] plague less seriously than Gerald Ford had taken swine flu. After all, he didn't need the ghettos and he didn't want the gays."
"Florio will win substantially. Whitman's offer of a 30 percent tax cut, she lost all credibility. Last year's hustle doesn't work. Supply-side economics is dead."
"In the greedy excesses of the Reagan years, the mean income of the average physician nearly doubled, from $88,000 to $170,000. Was that warranted?"
"[Christie] Whitman tried a Ronald Reagan rerun and proposed a 30 percent tax cut. The lost revenue could be made up by cost-saving devices, such as no longer giving free Adidas sneakers to prison inmates. A decade after Reagan, New Jersey's voters aren't buying government by apocryphal anecdote."
"Then you've got Bill Bennett out there, who is kind of a Torquemada...Bill Bennett is basically a schismatic heretic practicing his own contrived lunatic version of the Latin Mass in the basement. That's what Buchanan is doing, only with Confederate flags flying. You have Phil Gramm from Texas, an incredibly mean-spirited right-wing character backed by big-oil money. He is the kind of perverse version of Lyndon Johnson whittled down to his vices and exaggerated. Then you have Bob Dole: when he's most sardonic and cruel is when he's most sincere. I think that's the Republican Party right now."
"The President permitted Buchanan, the man who tried to destroy him, to speak at the Houston convention during prime time. Buchanan delivered a snarling, bigoted attack on minorities, gays and his other enemies in what he called the `cultural war' and `religious war' in America. Buchanan's ugly speech, along with another narrow, sectarian performance by Pat Robertson, set the tone of right-wing intolerance that drove moderate Republicans and Reagan Democrats away from the President's cause in November. If Houston represented the Republican Party, many voters said, they wanted out."
"Bob Michel is a great guy but his time was up. He was a moderate, and it's the unmoderates who control the House Republicans, that is, the Newt Gingriches of the world, the firebomb throwers: burn this village in order to save it, destroy the House in order to try to elect Republicans, have term limitations....Bomb throwers don't believe in civility, bomb throwers believe in throwing bombs...opposing every principle of the other party simply for partisan opposition."
"If you look at the people who served on that [Republican] platform committee, they were a group of the most intolerant human beings that could ever be collected."
"Harry, I don't want to take away from the severity of what you two were talking about, but please pass along to Dan he looks great in his jeans today."
"You claim the debt problem actually began with Lyndon Johnson...But he was fighting the Vietnam War and that was most of his problem?...So he had a good reason." "...I'm not sure there's a grade low enough for this next one: Ronald Reagan. He spoke regularly of balancing the budget, but he broke the bank. In return for his own personal popularity he spent eight years in office and ran up $1.34 trillion in deficits....It's early yet, but for at least trying to address the deficit in a more serious fashion than anybody in 12 years, what kind of early marks do you give Bill Clinton?"
"The Reagan Administration used to boast they created a lot of jobs. Most of those were menial jobs that were quickly dissipated by a quadrupled budget deficit. How do you suggest we make more high-paying jobs?"
"Is the problem that the laws are ineffective, or the laws can't be carried out because the bureau, like every other, is understaffed, underfunded, a victim of the Reagan cutbacks?"
"As we have seen in the past, during Reagan-Bush administration days, when huge slashes went through, when entire programs were dismantled, and what ends up being left sometimes in its wake is this sort of vacuum and chaos and even more problems than were there to begin with."
"I don't shield my politics in this book, as I do in much of my journalism, as I've been disciplined to do. The Reagan years oppressed me because of the callousness and the greed and the hard-hearted attitude toward people who have very little in this society, so all of that came together at around age 40 for me"
"Reagan got his taxation program through, which was to cut taxes to the bone. Mr. Clinton's going to get his program through, which is to raise taxes to the sky. And let us hope, Cokie, that it doesn't turn out to have a similar fate. What Reagan did was destroy the economy!"
"For members of Ronald Reagan's Administration, the metamorphosis has been traumatic. Just a few years ago, they commanded Washington. They were privy and powerful, setting the country's intellectual and moral compass. Their mission was called noble. But after they left, their crusade was rejected, their ideology repudiated much as the Russians have repudiated communism. They were accused of making greed into the country's unofficial religion. Their fall was far and fast and the crash was painful."
Dan Rather and Arsenio Hall
Dan Rather: "Some days I say `Why is he [Clinton] doing that?' or `Gosh, can he do it a little better?' But it may be time to, sort of as you say, chill. We know when it comes to politics and governing, whatever you think of this President, whether you voted for him or not, he can hang -- which is to say he can do it...."
Arsenio Hall: "See! See! Dan is deep, ain't he? Dan in the Hood!...I thank you for being here. You're a special guy. And I hope whatever you have is contagious."
"Mr. Clinton was about as relaxed as a pound of liver."
"Well, in Texas they have a saying: `That's a good way for Momma to drive a Cadillac,' which is a way of saying that if you play with one of these things, particularly if you are in a low-water area. I would say, Harry, this morning there must be lot of people who are in that let's-have-another-cup-of-coffee-and-not-worry-about-it stage. And I agree with that. That's the stage to be in."
"If an American inauguration can't bring a lump to your throat and a tear to your eye, if you don't feel as corny as Kansas in August, maybe you need a jump-start and some vitamins."
"If I'm a young black man in South Central L.A., where poverty is rampant and unemployment is skyrocketing, I see that Washington's promises of a year ago have gone unfulfilled, I see that perhaps for a second time, the court's inability to mete out justice in a blind fashion, why shouldn't I vent my anger?"
"One of the fires was started by a homeless man trying to keep warm. It represents the strains in our society, from neglect to the nihilism, the `burn, baby' nihilism of people who actually go and start fires like this."
"Like the country club that bars women from the golf course, where many deals are made, the game of softball can act as another barrier, another means of excluding women from the corporate inner circle."
"When rioting, looting, and arson erupted last spring, it wasn't just anger over the Rodney King verdict, it was an explosion of rage over years of social and economic neglect, poor schools, violent streets, joblessness, poverty, and no hope. Has anything changed? Quite honestly, very little has."
"The real story is the proposed gas tax is far too low...There's only one problem with the 4.3 cents-per-gal. gas tax the Senate has proposed: it's too little...Where it says 4.3 cents, they should add two words: a year. And maybe a third word: forever. For decades, we'd still be paying vastly less for gas than our competitors (in Europe and Asia, gas goes for nearly $4 per gal.). For decades, the hike in the tax would be more or less canceled out by available improvements in fuel efficiency -- so it would cost no more to drive a mile."
"So Clinton is right to back off his plan for a middle-class tax cut and right again to `revisit' the proposal to increase gasoline taxes, regressive levies he routinely dismissed as unfair during the campaign."
"We need to raise taxes...As for gasoline -- which costs about $3.75 per gal. throughout Europe -- Ross Perot was right. Phase in a 50-cent tax over five years, and you raise $50 billion a year."
"When Clinton's `Climate Change Action Plan' finally debuted last week, environmentalists could muster only faint praise....There are two major omissions: the plan does nothing to raise auto fuel-economy standards, and it contains no energy-tax hikes to boost conservation."
"What do you do for an encore after ending the Cold War and reversing the arms race? How about saving the planet? That's the latest assignment for Mikhail Gorbachev, having assumed the presidency of the International Green Cross, a new environmental organization...."
"She restores a tradition of excellence at the Department of Health and Human Services. That agency has been headed by some of America's truly great human beings: Joe Califano, Pat Harris, and now Donna Shalala. She is an academic who is connected with the real needs of people. When it comes to being an effective advocate for those who have no voice, she has few equals, perhaps only one -- the other half of the dynamic duo here in Washington, that is the duo of Donna Shalala and Hillary Rodham Clinton."
"In that instant, [Janet] Reno, who had already pretty much captivated Washington with one gutsy performance after another, achieved full-fledged folk-hero status....She was cheered on both sides of the aisle in Congress and in her own Justice Department, where a succession of 25-watt, responsibility-ducking Attorneys General had left morale lower than -- well, lower than an alligator's belly."
"Just last night on television I saw your opponent for Governor complaining about your record, saying how you had raised taxes, how it had cost 300,000 jobs. Are you afraid your politically courageous moves are in fact going to cost you the election?"
"Forty-five minutes into budget director Leon Panetta's briefing on the economy, it was clear that something was missing. After 12 years of Ronald Reagan's voodoo economics and George Bush's low-fat, decaffeinated, nondairy, sodium-free imitation voodoo economics, there was suddenly no ideology in the federal budget. Panetta talked like a cheerful, no-nonsense accountant trying to balance the books the hard way -- honestly."
"Doesn't Clinton deserve some credit here for beginning to tackle the problem of getting people to pay taxes? I mean, for 12 years in this country, it's become patriotic not to pay taxes, to avoid paying taxes. And Clinton at least is trying to turn that around. Why isn't he getting more credit for that?"
"Clinton has at least faced the facts squarely, which is more than his immediate predecessors ever did, and he is forthrightly taking the heat for the tax increases that serious deficit reduction demands. Simply to move the debate from whether the deficit should be tackled to how the red ink should be stemmed is the definition of courage in modern American politics. So give him that....Clinton's economic plan deserves to be known as a new New Deal, and Congress should pass it quickly."
"It's one for one [tax hikes to spending cuts] and it's gutsier than any Republican President has done in 12 years of feel-goodism. This is going to be politically courageous and you're going to hear a lot of screaming."
"I think regardless of what you think of the specifics of the program, the President deserved great, great credit for having the courage to come forward with a plan to deal responsibly with the deficit. Yes, there are flaws....But I think that Bill Clinton really set the nation on a new course last night in trying to deal responsibly with our problems, and make the tough choices."
"The free market. While the government helped build the trains and the roads to help bring the United States into the 20th century, the economic philosophy of this country has been laissez-faire. Germany and Japan, on the other hand, give industry broad government support. The Japanese government invests 58 percent more than the United States [government] in civilian research and development, Germany 42 percent. But American business has always fought a government-guided industrial strategy. They called it socialism. Now many are calling it 21st century economics."
"There is no mystery in how [the deficit] can be brought down...the U.S. simply has to choose from a menu of unpalatable options that include deeper cuts in defense spending, tougher controls on medical services, higher taxes on federal pensions, and a broad-based tax on energy or consumption, preferrably both. We know how to do this. Impose measures already commonplace in other industrialized countries. The weapons are there. It's the will to use them that's the problem."
"Here in France, they have created a child care system that would amaze most Americans. Every child in this country, from the richest family down to the poorest, gets a chance at the same high standard of day care, preschool, and health care. Not only is it free, or at low cost to everyone, but the quality is better than what most youngsters get in the United States....Next fall, Benjamin will be able to leave the [government nursery] and move on to the next stage of the French government's child care system, the école maternelle, or preschool, which is totally free....There's one in virtually every neighborhood in the country, and almost every single three-to five-year-old French child goes all day -- for free."
"Add to this visual pop lexicon the newest hip eye-opener: cross-dressing. As if to punctuate the end of the socially stagnant Reagan era, a parade of drag images is now crossing screens big and small, mostly men bedecked in wigs, lipstick, and scarfs to hide their protruding Adam's apples....Along with symbolizing self-empowerment, cross-dressers also can remind us that sex roles and costumes are fictional. Men wear pants because American society tells them to."
"Many GIs recognized homosexual leanings for the first time in the all-male surroundings....There is, in fact, an undercurrent of homoerotic tension in the shared latrines, shower rooms, and sleeping quarters of barracks life....The military exalts masculinity in ways that are frankly or implicitly sexual. A form-fitting dress uniform can make a leatherneck look like a peacock."
Dr. Bob Arnot
"For infant mortality, America couldn't do much worse. Excluding white newborns, America ranks 70th in the world, roughly the same as Mongolia."
"All I can tell you is that the football coach at the University of Wisconsin didn't want her to leave -- I don't think she's any lefty."
"But Hillary was smart to rip their heads off....After all, she's right substantively: the [health insurance] industry has `brought us to the brink of bankruptcy,' it does `like being able to exclude people from coverage, because the more they exclude, the more money they can make.' No other industrialized country puts up with useless paper shufflers taking such a large cut of their health budgets...And she's right tactically: if health-care reform is to live, the companies backing Harry and Louise must die. If 90 percent of those 1,500 insurers don't die -- if someone lifts the DO NOT RESUSCITATE sign off them -- then the entire reform contraption will collapse."
"The Clinton plan is surprisingly persuasive in supporting the longtime claim of the Clintons, and their top health care strategist, Ira Magaziner, that reform can be almost entirely from savings, without broad-based new taxes and with enough left over to reduce the federal budget deficit."
"White House officials said today the plan will require almost no new taxes. Most of the funding will come from employers who will be required to pay into a state system."
Steven Pearlstein and Dana Priest
"Woven through the 1,300-page health plan is a liberal's passion to help the needy, a conservative's faith in free markets, and a politician's focus on the middle class."
U.S. Captive Says He's Well Treated
Somalis Provide Daily Medical Care
US captive tells of being dragged through streets
New York Times
Bush Makes Public Iran-Contra Diary
Entries Suggest He Did Not Know Details of Scandal
Diary Says Bush Knew 'Details' of Iran Arms Deal
Nina Totenberg and Harry Blackmun
Reporter Nina Totenberg: "Have you ever cried over these cases?"
Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun: "Have I ever what?"
Totenberg: "Have you ever cried over them?"
"Corporations pay public relations firms millions of dollars to contrive the kind of grass-roots response that Falwell or Pat Robertson can galvanize in a televised sermon. Their followers are largely poor, uneducated, and easy to command."
Howard Fineman and Eleanor Clift
"Clinton is giving the best evidence yet of his approach to leadership. It's about understanding, not threats; accommodation, not confrontation; about getting people (or at least Democrats) to sing the same song. The style is reminiscent of another patient, nonjudgmental figure given to hugging in public: Barney the Dinosaur."
"If either of the two [Madonna or Michael Jackson] is the logical heir to Marilyn Monroe, it is clearly Michael Jackson, who is the more bruised and authentically vulnerable of the two....Not only is he black and white, male and female, but also young and old, hip and square, the crotch-grabbing self-appointed guardian of the world's children."
"Roger [Clinton]'s life is in some ways the story of any younger sibling clobbered by the spectacular success of the one who came before. The presidential brother syndrome. If your brother is Christ, you have a choice: become a disciple, or become an anti-christ, or find yourself caught somewhere between the two."
Ray Archer, Arizona Republic editorial writer
Brent Baker, Editor of MediaWatch & Notable Quotables
Mark Belling, talk show host, WISN Radio, Milwaukee
Tom Bethell, Washington Editor of The American Spectator
L. Brent Bozell III, Chairman, the Media Research Center
David Brudnoy, talk show host, WBZ Radio and commentator for WBZ-TV in Boston
Priscilla Buckley, Senior Editor of National Review
John Corry, former New York Times television critic; American Spectator “Presswatch” columnist
Sandy Crawford, Editor of TV, etc.
Mark Davis, talk show host, WWRC Radio, Washington, DC
Midge Decter, author
Jim Eason, talk show host, KGO in San Francisco
Don Feder, Boston Herald writer and syndicated columnist
Tim Graham, Editor of Notable Quotables
Charlton Heston, actor
Les Jameson, talk show host, WLAC in Nashville
Cliff Kincaid, columnist and commentator
John Leonard, talk show host, WWCN Radio, N. Ft. Myers
Marlin Maddoux, talk show host, USA Radio Network
Bob Madigan, talk show host, WWRC Radio, Washington, DC
Patrick McGuigan, Chief editorial writer, Daily Oklahoman
William Murchison, Dallas Morning News & syndicated columnist
Kate O’Beirne, Heritage Foundation Vice President for government relations & panelist, PBS’ To the Contrary
Marvin Olasky, Associate Professor of Journalism, U. of Texas
Joseph Perkins, San Diego Union-Tribune and syndicated columnist
Burton Yale Pines, Senior Fellow, MRC’s Free Enterprise & the Media Institute; VP of National Empowerment Television
Mike Pintek, talk show host, KDKA in Pittsburgh
Wladyslaw Pleszczynski, Managing Editor of The American Spectator
Mike Rosen, talk show host, KOA Denver Post columnist
William Rusher, Senior Fellow, Claremont Institute and syndicated columnist
Marc Ryan, editorial writer, Waterbury [CT] Republican-American
Ted J. Smith III, Associate professor of Mass Communication at Virginia Commonwealth U.
Philip Terzian, Associate Editor & columnist, Providence Journal
Cal Thomas, syndicated columnist
R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr., Editor-in-Chief of The American Spectator
Dick Williams, Atlanta Journal columnist
Walter Williams, Economic professor, George Mason U. and syndicated columnist
Brian Wilson, talk show host, WWRC Radio, Washington D.C.
Thomas Winter, Editor of Human Events